The summertime blues…

With the arrival of several consecutive days of sun, and the possibility of more to follow, comes a new way of being. The fire is still lit in the evening but more as a comfort than a necessity. We have just passed the three days of “les Saints de Glace” which coincide with the fêtes of St.Mamert, St.Pancrace (didn’t he have a London station named after him, or was it part of the digestive tract, which latter would have been more apposite as we enter the underground system full of life and joy only to be expelled the other end transformed and drained of all goodness) and St.Servais. Since the middle ages, peasant farmers in France have invoked these saints to spare them the effects of “la lune rousse”, which prevails during this period, and which can bring unseasonal frosts. It seems the saints have gone marching by for yet another year and the time for clout casting is upon us. It makes me reflect on the amount of of mental angst that we Northern Europeans suffer in our annual anticipation of the short tryst with the sun and clear blue sky that we call summer. For us, of the cold, grey North, summer is a difficult period of the year to enjoy because, like so much in our lives, it rarely lives up to expectations. There is the ever present fear of making arrangements that might depend on the hoped for seasonal weather  which, as we have learnt on the journey from childhood disappointments to adult stoicism,  will invariably rain on our parade. Being able to carpe the dies is not in the gift of everyone. In fact only a tiny minority of us can enjoy this pleasure and those that can will, for the most part, not be entirely grateful. Being without work, being homeless, being very ill, being imprisoned are all states where the dies can be carped for the full 24 hours of sun filled fun, for it is so often the case that it will be the most unfortunate among us who have endless time on their hands. The remembered sun filled summers of childhood are tricks of memory which our minds have superbly edited to leave out the frightening bits so that they are now suitable for adult retrospective viewing. Well, don’t tell me that that didn’t cheer up your Monday morning. I meant to include that I seem to have achieved the ability to carpe dies without being in any of the above miserable states. Reading a book in the warmth of the sun, planting and pruning in the tiny garden, preparing and cooking food that will be eaten, sheltered from the sun, under an awning surrounded by pots of scented herbs are amongst the moments that I greedily enjoy in the way that a parched man will try to down draughts of cool water without choking. I have been reading a wonderful book called “Les Goûteurs de Provence” which describes a set of day trips undertaken by a Provencal restaurateur and a childhood friend of his who, having moved to Paris many years before, returns to rediscover his patrimoine. Even these privileged people had to grab a day here and a day there to undertake the journeys that created the book that is giving me so much pleasure. My pleasure was increased by a late lunch of confit de canard which was served with a warm lentil salad mixed with walnuts, mint and capers and dressed with lemon and walnut oil. Delicious lemon bars, from a recipe by Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes in London, were followed by garden watering, more reading, lighting the fire and going to sleep

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in baking, Basil, biscuits, cake, capers, Claire Ptak, Cooking, desserts, Digital photography, fireplace, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, friendship, Herbs and Spices, la lune rousse, Lemon bar cakes, Les Gouteurs de Provence, Les Saints de Glace, lifestyle, Memory, Mint, Patricia Wells, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Recipes, St.Mamert, St.Pancrace, St.Servais, summer, Vendee, Violet Cakes, Walnut oil, walnuts, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The summertime blues…

  1. Mad Dog says:

    You’e reminded me a of a lovely film with all that talk of summer and Provence – La Gloire de Mon Père.

  2. Really enjoyed reading this and had to chuckle as Big Man was born on 12th May the Feast of St Pancrace and I thank whoever I need to thank that his mother didn´t name him after the Saint!

  3. Tandy says:

    Baking, reading, sitting by the fire= bliss 🙂

  4. ceciliag says:

    Morning! I am thinking about the lentil salad now. I need to go back and look more awakely (you know what i mean) at that flippant little sentence that will help me recreate your warm lentil salad. I like the idea of sitting under an awning to eat.. with fragrant herbs sitting obediently in their little pots blowing their fresh fragrant breath towards your stretched out legs. c

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    Those lemon bars sound like a great precursor for an afternoon in the garden. I do enjoy them but haven’t ever made them myself. I’ve so little self-discipline when it comes to some things, lemon squares definitely being among them.

  6. Michelle says:

    The confit looks grand.

  7. When I lived further north I used to say that statements about the weather always began with the words ‘at least’, as in ‘at least it isn’t snowing’, but here in the Midi even the saints de glace hold no fears for us. People do worry a bit about les cavaliers (in late April) but these have passed too now, for this year. I love the summer light on those cakes in your photo!

  8. Nice post which invites to appreciate these lazy season s’ changes…

  9. Did the sugar brown and crust on your lemon bars? If so, that looks delicious.

  10. It never got cool enough for a fire here! Sounds just wonderful.

  11. spree says:

    Your posts are always a good read Roger, and your lemon bars look quite perfect on the sun-dappled patios of our all-too-short summers.

  12. Hi Roger!
    It sounds like a marvelous lunch and a very interesting book 🙂

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