It’s a phrase that I never thought I would hear myself utter, but this morning I heard myself saying ….’we need the rain’
Over the years we have spent far too many days, cold and miserable, soaked to the skin, with rain dripping off our hoods, watching the world through a curtain of grey. In fact it was a fundamental need to escape the rain that had started to fall in the Gorges du Tarn, when we were there 30 years ago, that originally saw us stumbling into Provence.
Here the days and weeks tend to be gentle, and light, with infrequent, but often dramatic storms, or downpours, that wash dirt and stones from driveways onto the roads and paths, turning them into rivers for a moment in time.
This last couple of days though has been different, with slate-grey skies and persistent, heavy rain that has fallen in sheets, blurring the views and turning the earth to mud. Sitting inside, I am watching the drops bounce from the newly tiled terrace, as the clouds drift across the field in front of the house, almost seeming to catch in the trees, before tumbling on their way.
Normally weather like this would dull my senses and turn my smile upside down. Generally grey skies and persistent rain have the same effect on us as the Dementors did on Harry Potter, draining us of all our spirit, leaving behind a soggy and lethargic mess. Over the last couple of days though, it has felt slightly different, and I have found myself watching the rain, thankful that it is persistent, hoping that it finds its way deep into the ground, rather than simply running off into the drains and away, and happy that the plants in our new little garden are getting a good watering.
A first sign perhaps that my mind-set is changing, and that like our friends here, I am starting to appreciate the rain, rather than mutter under my breath whenever the clouds start to gather.
Of course, the rain does rather put paid to our cycle rides. We dashed out, between the showers a couple of days ago, but the bikes have been firmly behind doors ever since. It does mean though that we have pulled on our walking shoes, thrown on our waterproof coats and headed out for walks.
Yesterday morning, we wandered up the ancient tracks that lead up through the old terraces to Saignon, happy in the knowledge that we wouldn’t melt. There, we would be able to buy a takeaway coffee and croissant from the boulangerie, and sit in the shelter of the old lavoir, overlooking the beautiful fontaine, content just to watch the rain.
Of course we got utterly soaked on the way up, walking through the sodden bushes and grass along the paths, to the point that my trousers were so wet that the water was just running down my legs into my shoes. As we walked the final path into the village, my feet were squelching in the puddles that had settled in my shoes, and Andy in his shorts, looked as if he had been wading through a lake.
We sat on the edge of the lavoir, munching our croissants for nearly an hour, with the gentle sound of the rain muffled by the heavier sound of the water falling from the spouts into the fontaine’s bassin. At one point Bertrand, our electrician passed in his van, stopping for a moment, exclaiming that we must be mad, before having a nice chat about the little bits of work that still need to be finished in the new kitchen.
The thing is that it was rather nice, and almost had a novelty value too. It was so peaceful, with just a couple of people scurrying past, sheltering under umbrellas, as they dashed up to the boulangerie, being careful not to slip on the cobbles, now slick with water. There was no cutting wind, so it wasn’t cold, certainly not in the shelter of the lavoir, and what else is there to do on a wet, miserable day in April, when museums and other cultural centres are still closed due to the pandemic.
Of course we took Millie with us, and she made a great effort to make the most of the walk, despite looking bedraggled and miserable throughout, as if a walk in the rain is something to be endured, rather than actively enjoyed.
Pusscat on the other hand has a very different attitude and refuses to even leave the house. She walks to each door, waits for us to open it…
Sees the rain and looks at us accusingly (as if we are responsible for making it wet)…
Before walking on to the next and going through the whole process again….
The fact that we have 4 possible routes for her to use, makes this a lengthy process, with her disgust becoming more and more apparent at our inability to open the right door for her to walk outside, into the sun, which is here somewhere!
After several attempts to find that elusive, enchanted door that will lead her to that much-loved sun-drenched land of lizards and grasshoppers, she finally gives up on us, and slinks off to sulk on our bed for the day, refusing to even give us eye-contact whenever we have the audacity to walk into the room.
We are though, also taking the opportunity to finish all the inside jobs that we will be happy to see done and out of the way, before the heat of the summer really hits. From fitting the new mosquito screens for the main rooms, to tidying up the workshop, which has been in a state of chaos for the last 6 months, whilst the work has been going on.
Also with the rain, Andy has changed his plans for the last bit of path that needs to be finished in the new garden, realising that gravel, rather than concrete is needed, to enable water to drain from the terrace. So in this case, the heavy grey clouds really have had a silver lining.
The main thing though is that we can almost hear the roses, flowers and vegetables that we have planted in the garden, gulping the water as it soaks into the ground around their roots. In my mind’s eye, I imagine that they are singing in the shower, luxuriating under the falling rain and holding their smiling faces up to the water.
They need to make the most of it though, as it already feels like the worst has passed, and the roads have started to dry again. In fact even after the last two days, the rain has probably done little more than dampen the dust. Already the forecast is predicting that this time next week, it will be in the mid-twenties and with that the summer will start in earnest.
All being well, our wet-weather kit will be put on one side, and we will be back out on the bikes (able to go further than the 10km radius too, which will be wonderful)…….
But for the time-being I will continue to smile with this rain….. perhaps a first sign that I am adopting a more provencale attitude to life!