Gosh. Was it really only five weeks ago that we were there? Was it only 5 weeks ago that we togged ourselves in skimpy sun gear, floppy hats and clodhopping sensible shoes to make our annual pilgrimage to Le Jardin Extraordinaire? If you’ve been following our story of our life in France you may remember the photos of this joyful, playful, meditative, exuberant, and quite lovely space which so many of us come to explore and relax in for the one weekend only, in very early September (follow the link above).
Today we wanted a walk: it’s not high summer any more, but the sky was very blue, the sun was pretty hot, the morning mists had burnt off and who knows if tomorrow it may rain? We wanted to take bags and a bucket and see if there were a few late blackberries (there were), a few sloes (there weren’t) and a few early walnuts (there were) to make our sortie near Lieurac worthwhile.
Our path took us past the site of Le Jardin Extraordinaire. It’s not normally a public space, so we couldn’t wander down to the river, or scramble up the hillside. But we could walk by the meadow which had greeted us at our last visit, and we could see the tunnels and bowers of gourds. Autumn has struck. The bright fleshy stems and leaves of the gourds and sunflowers have changed into gnarled and bony twigs. The pumpkins which once peeped from beneath their leafy green sunhats are now exposed on bare earth, those leaves crisp and brown like curls of tobacco. The sunflowers still rear their tall heads over the scene, but they too are blackened and dry.
It’s still lovely though. This is no cemetery. The seed pods, the gourds, the berries are all ripe now, They’re ready for the next stage: marauding animals may eat them, humans too, or else they’ll seed themselves, so that early next year, the garden can begin to grow again, and be transformed by the creative artists and gardeners of Artchoum.
And we too marauded today. We came back after our walk with full bags, muddy shoes, and that feeling of well-being that comes from a peaceful and productive afternoon out in the countryside in the bright Autumn sunshine