Bizarrely we sense and feel the changing seasons more in Provence than we do in Devon. Back in Exeter the proximity to the sea seems to soften the edges of summer as it shifts into autumn and likewise, autumn into winter.
That’s not the case here and today it was almost as if someone had turned the page of a book from the chapter on summer to a prologue for autumn.
It’s hard to explain as the days are still long and hot with temperatures brushing the low 30s, but something has shifted. A peace and gentle stillness has settled across the valley and it seems to have literally changed overnight.
This is a lovely time of year here as the whole valley seems to relax as the summer visitors start their journeys home. Houses that have burst into life for the short summer season now have their shutters firmly closed and the chain padlocked across the gateway again. Even the back roads that are busy with cars for the height of the season revert to feeling like cycle paths that allow vehicles to use them.
It is still busy though, with the markets and cafés filled with people enjoying everything the area has to offer, but somehow it has lost its ‘busy-ness’
Sadly Andy headed home yesterday for a week, so today I hopped on the bike and went for a gentle potter around the Valley and the first thing I noticed was the peace. Of course this may have been down to the fact that Andy wasn’t with me & we weren’t chatting (as we always set the world to rights when out on the bikes), but it was so much more than that.
During the summer even the insects add to the busy-ness of the area with the constant ‘kss-kss’ of the Cicadas providing a soundtrack to the day. Today though they were almost silent, just the odd few doing their best to make their voice heard in the last days of summer, the sound more like an old car doing its best to start on a damp day, rather than the joyous screech of the last couple of months. Whereas during the summer their chatter is so constant, it simply becomes a background, white-noise, today it felt as if I could hear each and everyone against the silence.
The colours also seem to have changed overnight too, with the bleached glare of the height of summer being softened, the colours more golden and muted than a few days ago. Of course this may have been due to the clouded skies today….
But it was more than that. The stubble fields below Gordes were golden….
The lavender fields that spent the summer in a purple haze had been cropped and returned to sage green corduroy stripes that now define the landscape…..
The old lavender flowers that have long-since been distilled for their oil now appear as a scented fertiliser, spread across local fields, filling the air with a smell far-removed from the fertiliser we tend to smell in Devon!
And the first autumnal leaves were starting to fall onto the cycle path near the Gare de Lumières….
Most apparent though are the vineyards as they start to take centre stage ahead of the harvest season, which will soon be starting. The heavy bunches of grapes are now clearly visible between the leaves, as if they are being pushed forward by the vines themselves to take their place in the limelight in the seasonal shift. Again this seems to have happened overnight.
To be honest this is one of the best times here and we love being able to potter out on the still warm days, cycling along peaceful roads that criss-cross the Valley.
The boulangeries no longer have queues out of the door and we can take our time over our croissants and coffee or sit on the walls that overlook our favourite views and let time pass peacefully by.
The Bee-Eaters are still chasing insects in the skies above the house with their distinctive call, that has resulted in us calling them the ‘Wibbly Birds’ and the swallows are still dashing round the village rooftops.
Last night the boars were back in the front field and as I drove back up to the hamlet this lunchtime 3 deer were grazing at the side of the road, stopping only to watch me as I slowly drove past. It is as if the wildlife too feels it is calm enough to come out again.
Yes Summer is lovely, but personally I love this time of year, with its gentle, slow feel and the promise of cooler days to come when we can bolt the shutters and snuggle down with our books infront of the woodburner….
Not yet though it’s still far too warm!
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