the roads here were not made for cars. most of them were made for horses and donkeys and a few were even made by romans 2000 years ago. sometime in the last century the were covered with a thin layer of asphalt. as you can imagine they are not two car widths wide. the best roads, the widest ones, are about one and a half cars wide. so as two cars pass, both cars must slow down and each puts one tire into the side road, only inches from the run-off ditches that line all the streets. and each time we do this, the entire side of the car, and my arm leaning out the open window, is whipped be these meter high stalks of wild fennel.
we learned within hours of our arrival in southern france that we had a swallow’s nest with babes under our terrace overhang; mama was trying to keep everyone fed, and it was clearly hard work. she was swo0ping in and out all day. apparently the urge to fledge has more to do with brain chemistry or the calendar than waiting for favorable meteorological conditions. because this guy decided yesterday was the day to start flying. but, as is typical here, the wind was slamming shutters and shaking tree tops. and so we watched with fascination and a little bit of horror as he launched himself into our courtyard, and then got caught in an eddy of wind which carried him from within centimeters of one stone wall and then another. at some point we turned away. it was like watching brazil against germany in the world cup. i didn’t want to watch. about an hour later our ten year old, joseph, found him/her on the garage floor looking very much the worse for wear, with wings stuck out at odd angles. we nursed it as best we could, and then gingerly placed it beside its nest so that mama could take over. we decided she is a much better swallow parent than we are.
in our courtyard, autignac, france
a collection of fruits in mid-july from jean-luc’s orchard: peach, fig, apricot, plum, quince, pomegranate, nectarine, apple, pear, and cherry pits (and notably absent is persimmon)
i am still getting teased for my slight overreaction to finding these silver dollar plant seed pods growing out of the top of a stone wall during a family outing. i gasped as if an intruder had just jumped out at me, and blurted, “seed pods!” in the middle of the street. my children have spent the last two days imitating me every time they walk by this plant in our living room. still, i mean, look at them. wouldn’t you gasp too?
money plant / monnaie du pape (lunaria annua)
saint-guilhem-le-désert, languedoc, france
the front door flew open this afternoon, and 10 year old joe came pounding up the steps. a jar. a jar. he needed a jar. he grabbed one and tore back down to the street. ten minutes later, he came back with a scorpion in a yogurt pot. i don’t know how he got the scorpion into the pot. i don’t want to know. i just know the scorpion in the jar became part of the family for a day, and we were treated to some extra dialogue and commentary from the young naturalist who had adopted this stray off the village street.
scorpion (rock scorpion?)