Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Morning Ritual

Two months of rain and early morning soft light result in a landscape that is easy on the eyes, soggy on the feet, apparently benefical to the crops, and equally amenable to Fergus. With the shutters only partially closed (we're not pure French), the bedroom remains dark long after sun-up. I rely on two key indicators that it's time to arise: Fergus' stirring around, and more imperatively, that I have to heed the call of nature. I've conquered jet lag once again, it's about 5:45 a.m., and Leran is barely twitching---except for Cecilia at La Boulangerie, who is probably well into her day at work.

I'm allowed a quick cup of coffee, saddle up the critter, and head out. In the field next to the Chateau, a flock of noisy sheep are pruning the weeds and grasses. Through the fence, Fergus meets these alien species and is intrigued. (I find it quaint that the wealthy Chateauans, ensconced in their high-rise medieval apartments, find time to tend to flocks of grazing animals. It is good to know that they also "get back to the land".) We continue on through the lane flanked by Plane trees, a species related to our American Sycamore. If France has a national tree, I would bet that it is the Plane tree, since it is everywhere along the Canal du Midi and the south of France to provide shade.

I encounter a young mother with baby and four dogs circling the stroller. Fergus made a mad dash to add to the excitement, and by the time dogs and baby were sorted out the sun had started to rise above the hillside. Amazing rays of sunshine fanned out to the ground, shining on the moisture in the air. For a moment I thought I was in the Great Smokey Mountains.

My understanding of the water cycle is pretty limited, so I had to rely on Doug (the answer man) for some clarification, but these vaporous clouds were ethereal. The ground is saturated from non-stop rains of late, then yesterday's 95 degree F heat(@ 33 degree C). It's created a perfect combination. Warm air can hold a lot of moisture, but as the temperature drops at night it loses it's capacity to hold the moisture which condenses on the ground in the form of dew. There is soooo much dew that it is producing tremendous misty clouds when the sun hits it. Please, anybody with a better explanation, step forward.

Fergus heads off into some of the fields, lost in the grasses. Le tournesol, the sunflowers, do not fool me this year. I recognize the stalk and leaves, and know that before we leave many of these fields will be blankets of brilliant yellow. We look down on the village of Leran, shrouded in mist, and across to the Pyrenees with barely a hint of snow remaining. Everything is quiet. But in two weeks, the Marche Nocture Leran, Friday night town-wide dinners begin, and in mid-July Le Tour de France zooms through in nearby Lavelanet and Chalabre. Nothing will be quiet then.

We cut off from the road onto a two-track through some fields, past the camping-park and down along the river. It runs fast and high and clear. Last summer this path was easily crossed over on boulders, but this year they are underwater. The water is cool and refreshing, even in the early morning. If you gotta have a morning ritual, mine's not too bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nancy, your pictures are lovely! We get a lot of foggy mornings with all the waterways here in Charleston also.

I love the long tree-lined pathways...and Fergus does also judging by his picture.

Your mornings sound so much more pleasant than mine! HA!