The yellow flowers screamed spring to my frozen, soft focus consciousness. So much so that I set out clad in only a thick fisherman’s sweater, a heavy waterproof working jacket and gloves approved for arctic conditions yet, as the first blast of bitter warmth raked the exposed skin of my unwisely, uncovered face, I felt that I was in shirtsleeve order in one of those cold snow covered places that people visit for fun and I shun.
Getting warm is each day’s mission when living in a stone house. Unlike those who live in glass ones I have no compunction in throwing stones as the proximity of another dwelling and the range of my throw would preclude any collateral damage but that advantage does not afford much compensation for living with a deep and complete understanding of the frigid life of frozen fish fingers; all ten of them, A gift of wood was to arrive that morning; not an airmail package of viagra but a trailer full of logs which is why I had chosen my outdoor look wardrobe to welcome them. The activity of reducing tree trunks into bite size pieces replaces the gymnasium for the diaspora of foreigners of a certain age living in la France profonde. Aided by triple bypasses, vanadium hip and knee joints, trusses and back supports we fell, split and saw as if there was no tomorrow or, more precisely, with every hope that there will be a tomorrow. As we hew and stack the conversation is limited to heavy breathing interspersed with “sorry” “bugger” “is it time for coffee” and ” the fucking thing’s stopped again”; then it is time for coffee and we recover our breath and talk of how impossibly distant will be the arrival of next summer…we are, indeed, the last of the summer whine.