I’ve been told that the heatwave that has hit all of Europe has broken all records. I have certainly felt it down here in Le Gers. There is something so different about being this hot when you live in a stone house and have a pool! I get errands done in the morning or plan a hike and make sure I’m back in the house by 2pm at the very latest. Then it’s nap time, reading time, swimming time. If I need to go out again, I make sure I’ll be in the shade as the heat doesn’t even begin to subside until 10pm at night. Who knew when I planned this month down here in March that I would be escaping hot and miserable Paris. I feel very fortunate.
Is it because of the heat that all the sunflowers are bowing their heads? Probably not, That’s what happens. They bow their huge heads into their long necks and nothing but a pale yellow and green shows in the fields. It’s very pretty but it’s not like seeing proud sunflowers looking at the sun and loyally following it’s path during the day. Soon they will be harvested and turned into sunflower oil. That patch of ground will then be home to wheat. It’s so fun to see sunflowers popping up willy nilly in and around the wheat. The stubborn ones kept their seeds nearby.
The Gascons drive terribly. Very fast on roads that are barely wide enough for one car. The Gascons live here and probably know these roads like the back of their hands. It must be frustrating to have summer people driving slower, looking at the gorgeous countryside, filling up on the beauty that is Le Gers. I’m pretty sure of this because they come right up on my tail and wait for the first possibility of passing. I pull as close to the right as I can to make it easier but when I see a van coming in the opposite direction and the road isn’t wide enough for both of them, I find myself holding my breath, my eyes grow very wide and I say a little prayer to the driving gods that all will be ok. So far, I haven’t seen an accident. The people that live here tell me accidents happen a lot.
The people that live here…. I’ve met Gascons, I’ve met Brits, I’ve met a few Americans. Everyone of them is genuinely happy to help if I have a question or just chat if I don’t. Saturday, I was in Agen with my friend Barbara. We went to a pharmacy to get some bug spray and anything to help with the itching. Barbara got a prescription filled and we just chatted away with the pharmacist. As we were getting ready to leave, she disappeared for one second and returned with two french soaps. One for each of us. Just because.
There are two Brits who live in Pouy and have done so for 12 years. The wife arrived on our doorstep last week with a big box of tomatoes, corgettes and green beans that she had just picked from her potager. The smell of freshly picked tomatoes is unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. It makes me wonder how I ever ate those tomatoes my mother used to buy that were wrapped in cellophane and sold in the A&P. Today, we went over to see their home. They had bought a house that had been empty for years and they gutted it except the bones. They now have a lovely, tasteful stone home (the walls were maybe the ramparts of the Chateau next to them) with something precious to look at at every turn. After drinks of cool, cool water, it was time to leave and she handed us another bag of fresh green beans and tomatoes. The thing is they would treat anyone this way.
Then there is Sallie Erichson, the American Photographer, who I met two weeks ago at a Fete. When she realised that I was just visiting for the summer, she got my contact info and invited me for dinner with her and her husband. When my friends from Paris arrived, we went over to her home and she entertained us for a couple of hours. Plus, each time we were going out for dinner, I would ask her for a suggestion. So far, she is batting 1000.
And lastly, there is Simone, the mother of a friend of Barbara’s. She is 93 years old and when Barbara realised we were staying only 2 km distance from the mother’s home, she suggested to her friend that she might check up on mom in all this heat. Both of us were picturing a frail old woman suffering from loneliness while everyone was staying inside. We rang her doorbell and a sturdy woman answered and shook her finger at us and said she wasn’t interested. She thought we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Her son had told her that Barbara would visit so when she realised who we were, we all doubled up laughing. She took us through her house, completely shuttered up to prevent the heat from entering, to a small terrace in the back. We must have stayed 45 minutes while she entertained us. We walked through her lovely gardens and both Barbara and I hoped that we looked and functioned like her at 93 years old. Each time Barbara asked if we could buy her something or help her with something, she didn’t need us. She has plenty of friends who stop by. She is well cared for.
And thus continues my wonderful month in Le Gers.