This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Mentioning that I have finished planting (digging and weeding first, of course, much to the disgust of my back) the vegetable garden before the 15th May makes me think about culture and tradition in France. When I tell my neighbours I have done it already they all suck in huge amounts of air through their teeth and shake their heads. Apparently, the few days leading up to the 15th May is Les Saint de Glace (The Ice Saint) and there could be a catastrophic weather phenomenon before then so my courgettes could wither, my pansies toughen up, and my French beans become English. As we pass all the other gardens we’ve noticed their vegetable patches remain empty, gardeners poised with tools in hand, waiting to toil all night on the 15th so their sprouts can rise in time and live up to the culture passed down by their forefathers. Part of my excuse to get prepared early is that I am off to Doha on the 15th to see my grandson for the first time, who is now two weeks old. Woo hoo! Edward, to be known as Teddy, and I have daily Skype sessions so to hold him soon will be just wonderful.
We have other wonderful moments of culture here too. During our first summer, Rudelle, a village 10 minutes from here, had a musical spectacle. The event was somewhat bizarre and John and I could not believe the evening which unfolded before us. Rudelle has a population of about 150 people and is famous for its medieval bastide church. The rest of the village is medieval too so try to imagine the scene. The temperature was about 30*, without a cloud in a late evening sky. The small village square was turned into a stage surrounded by raised seating. A derelict house at the edge of the square was home to dashing, shrieking house martins and swallows as they chased rising insects into the warm summer night and then swooped low over the gathering audience. Then the first drums started their Latin beat and from all corners, brightly costumed Mexicans appeared, rhythmically clapping and singing delightful, morale lifting songs. This continued for about an hour and we couldn’t believe that we were in a small corner of rural south west France with this multi-cultural event happening around us. Since then Rudelle has had a Brazilian evening (I turned up with some hot wax as I misunderstood what was expected…), Bolivian and this year, a group from Uzbekistan!
I’m off to pack my case… My suitcase allowance is 23kg which will be full of baby clothes, toys and gifts for Teddy from friends sending stuff from England (if post reaches Doha, you’re lucky!). I will try and get my clothes into my carry-on case, but like Annabel, I take too much but try and put everything on the bed the day before I pack, reduce it by a third, go to sleep then put the original amount back in the case. At least it will be emptier on my return unless I can smuggle Teddy back with me!