Sharing the sunflowers
When we arrive at the top of our lane we always pause. The dogs’ heads dip down, busy noses snuffle out scents caught in the thick grassy verge. It’s August, the sunflowers are out and usually the grass would be crisp and thin, scorched by sun and parched by drought.
This however is not a usual summer. It’s cooler and wetter and has been so since May. It has its benefits: the fields are full of gigantic yellow sunflowers, and crops of tall, fat corn; the flower garden is flourishing having escaped the stress of extreme heat. And our walks don’t need to be at dawn to stay enjoyable.
But the drawbacks are present too: the vegetable garden is slower to produce summer salad staples, the aubergines are still small tight buds and legions of snails have fattened themselves happy on our plants. More than once we’ve said it’s like gardening in a British summer, not one in south-west France.
Looking out across the valley at the top of the lane, a field of corn now blocks the view. It will be November and after the corn harvest before the vista returns. Then through the winter months we’ll pause and look over to the hills on the far side of the river. Often it will be through rising mist, or, a struggle to see much on foggy days.
From here if we take the road right it goes along to the next hamlet and down to the pond; to the left we’ll walk past a couple of houses, above the farm where Nemo lives.
We decide to go left where the lane is flanked by sunflower fields. For a mile or so we’re tucked within the beauty of a eight foot tall, yellow natural corridor which hums with bees.
A couple of weeks ago we’d been excited at the prospect of sharing this beauty with my brother and his family.
We’d been watching the plants and hoping they’d be in full and perfect bloom for the week of their stay. Sunflowers look glorious for just a short while before their frilly edges begin to shrivel and lose their lustre. Last week and this, from our doorstep is prime adoration time for worshippers like us.
But, we’re not able to share it with my family. We’re not able to do anything with them. The British government imposed a last minute change in travel rules. This made it impossible for them to visit us. Throughout the pandemic we have respected rules, and understood that things cannot be the same as in normal times. My sister-in-law works as a hospital doctor, she knows the real cost of the virus. We’ve had friends and family struck down by it. But, the singling out of France in the latest travel restrictions is baffling. It’s hard not to feel buffeted by petty politicking. Which has consequences for individuals who have no choice but to search for positives where we can find them and be patient once more.
Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts or happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever flowing through one’s head.Mark Twain