Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Of bears, turtles, wisteria, and trout . . . spring has sprung

One of the pleasures of living in the PO is to open the local paper and find the lead story the saga (ongoing, like any good saga) of Balou the bear. Balou is in rut and has been roaming the Pyrenees and Corbières for many weeks looking for a mate (or mates: Balou is insatiable and is known to have sired numerous cubs). (Here is a great video of Balou.)

Bears are not the only creatures hunting mates. Land turtles, the paper tells us, are prowling as well. We are warned to be cautious if we encounter one. They are likely to be in a bad humor and can be quite dangerous. A snap of their beak can take a finger right off, which would indeed be a sad ending to a stroll in the countryside. Even on such a spring day as we had yesterday.

Another pleasure is the sunny spring afternoon walk around the village. This is the season of blossoming trees and shrubs and vines -- and the clouds of pollen which seem to turn the air golden, so the outing carries its share of peril for the sensitive. Even so, the risk is worth taking. Several houses along the banks of the Agly have wisteria vines in full blossom, for instance, and everyone seems to have one or another variety of rose putting on a show.

At the bend in the river just before the main bridge, we pause to watch the trout sunning. There are a dozen or so of various sizes, each one facing into the oncoming current and swaying body and fins just enough to keep from being swept downstream. A fishy spring walk.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unplugged in Paradise: look up, it's all a joke


When you take a public service for granted -- roads, water, electricity -- you are only setting yourself up for disappointment when the service fails to come through. For just over a day and a half, we have been without internet and telephone (we get both from the same provider) and we have no clue from what is going on or when it will be resolved. The ADSL signal didn't go off suddenly (as if someone cut the phone line while stealing it for the copper -- Romanian gangs comb the countryside doing just that) but instead ceased responding after several hours of intermittent service early yesterday.

Aside from the annoyance of not knowing what happened or when it might resolve itself (is it sun flares or faulty circuits, is it being worked on, when if ever will it be fixed?), there is the matter of what if anything we can or should be doing about iy. In short, it's a situation loaded with conundrums and dilemmas worthy of any great test of reason and good judgment. We are glad that no big problems are awaiting our attention on the net, but you can never be sure that an unknown will not suddenly appear.

This is a time to practice calm patience and good humor.

Tomorrow, if nothing changes, we'll begin finding ways to contact to let them know our difficulty and seek a solution. This will not be easy here in the back country. Public WiFi zones are rare. Querying people we barely know for information or for the use of their WiFi network will be tricky.

But when the time comes, we will know what to do. Our Optimism comes from all that work on calm patience and good humor. Whatever comes of our search, we know that therein lies our best shot.

En attendant, we enjoy the dis-attached life. Unplugged in paradise.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring return

Maybe today was the first day of spring, after all. After all of the dreary weather and weeks of chaos chez nous, waiting for deliveries, camping among the disarranged furniture while we endured delays (at one point the shipping company simply declared that our furniture was "introuvable"). But in the end, the goods arrived and order, a new and better order, has taken hold around home and we were ready for the dazzling day that seems to arrive as our reward for endurance and serenity.

So. A spring Sunday walk through town and out past the railroad crossing to the olive orchard and the benches under the poplar trees just beginning to show budding leaves with a fine view of our gorges -- the Gorges de Galamus -- and the distant skies over the source of the Agly. We paused for a while and recalled other days and other views up the valley.

Suddenly three tiny dogs came scampering out of the viney thickets behind us, a black spaniel, a white and tan Jack Russell, and a brown poodle. They yipped and circled us sitting there. Then their masters appeared, two women out for a spring stroll. They laughed and assured us that the dogs were "pas mechant"!

As we rose to head home, a chorus of songbirds seemed to cheer us on our way. The Agly valley is greening again, they sang. For today this is a fine world worth savoring and we count ourselves lucky to have been granted a spring return.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dark day searching for delight

dark skies in the county once ruled

by the counts of Fenouillèdes

as ever in these parts a spring storm

rolling in from the sea

filling the air with droplet clouds

dust-laden from the Maghreb


imagine what the seacoast is like today

sea and sky darkening, roiling


while here under the crêtes de la fou

we seek delight

indoors watching

balcony plants swelling

spring at last


Saturday, March 29, 2014

La vie après cataracts


Walked up to The Field to see the white horse. A blustry and chilly wind whipping up the valley from Caudiès, so we did not linger for long. The bright sun on the whole world, a clear vision. Turned off rue Voltaire at the corner and took refuge under the cedar trees. Checked on the car. The Blue Beauty, our Cent Six with its dents and scratches of honor. Snapped a picture of a greening willow. Then home.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Autumn in old St. Paul de Fenouillet


Autum this year has come along slowly. The vendange was a month en retard for many vignerons, the latest in many years, decades even, and the weather has been slow to change. Some trees are beginning to change color and drop dried leaves. Yesterday on the Planiol, the wind in the platanes caused a gentle rustle. Another sure sign that autumn is with us, despite the mild temps: chrysanthemums. A walk around the ville always reveals a new surprise, even a revelation.




Friday, August 30, 2013

St, Paul in the news

Two recent articles in L'Indépendant tell about local cultural landmarks which define the place. After all what would St. P be without em?

The hermitage of St. Antoine

Le chapitre