Thursday came with our first clear dawn and a hard frost. I put on a hat and gloves for the short haul down to Madame Aldi – we weren’t quite on first name terms yet, myself and the woman who opened it up in the morning, but we were getting there. Light had been filling my East facing bedroom since well before eight and I went outside with a cup of tea to enjoy the sun’s rising over the glen. It came up clear under a blue sky ribboned with aircraft contrails, my breath misting in the cold Autumn air, long shadows appearing behind the garden chairs and the porch column and on the pages of my notepad and my pen was enshadowed now too, and the back of my cup. Funny how the shadows are longest at the dawn and the dusk. Mist from my nose and mouth in the cold, mist billowing gently from my cup of tea. Mist in the soft stream of condensed air rising from the central heating chimney of the house below.

The main road below was busying itself by now, the noise of trucks and cars and the high pitched buzz of the odd moped. And some other noise, constant, a whining pitch too, from a small engine, I think maybe a strimmer – somebody cutting his grass for the last time this year.

Light reflected on the plastic chair before me, on my forefinger as I wrote, light on the drops of dew in the grass, and then the sun was up and clear so that I couldn’t look at it any more, at its elemental glare. And it struck me that we had been looking at millions of those suns the night before in the starry sky in the Milky Way. I went inside to begin the breakfast.

When we were about to head off to Mialet, where we were set to walk, John reflected on the cold and quoted Emily Dickenson.

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away—
Too imperceptible at last
To seem like Perfidy—

A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon—

The Dusk drew earlier in—
The Morning foreign shone—
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone—

And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

If Autumn teaches us anything (and it does) it’s how to let things go, how to let the Summer and all our Summers, and everything else too, escape into the beautiful. And it teaches us that every goodbye can bring a new hello, so it’s all about acceptance. Those days have to shorten for them to lengthen again next Spring. Those leaves and apples have to fall, for more to grow next year.

We walked around the lake – it’s a man-made lake, they call it a Barrage – and it was a fine flat path all the way around. We saw mushrooms today, some of which looked spectacularly poisonous. M. Besson said that it has been too dry for the real crop of mushrooms (the local ones are called Cèpes) to come up out of the ground yet, but at times we did get that rich humus smell from the earth, in places where the sun doesn’t reach.

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Our legs were getting stronger as the week went on – at least I felt that mine were. We met an English couple running around the lake. They were on a half-term break, as they called it, and had a house nearby – a lot of English people seem to live in the Dordogne, they have their own newspaper and some of the shops in Brantôme seemed to cater specifically to them. It’s not hard to imagine why, given the beauty of the place, the availability of property and the accessibility to them.

We walked on to another loop which was more agricultural and we saw a lot of dry cattle, the lands seems to suit them. We passed an old derelict trailer in the woods that had been a furniture delivery van. And then looping back around to the village, talking about films and film musicals in particular for some reason. We couldn’t agree on a favourite. We talked about lots more and politics even and Dermot quoted from Yeats:

Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all that blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

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That evening we had the meal of the week (at least it was, for me). Two local specialities were canard and fois gras so we gave them go, and John cooked the duck in a lovely marinade which he grilled to perfection and we bought some Alsace pinot noir in Carrefour to go with it. And we said: Go mbeirimíd go léir beo ag an am seo arís, and we clinked our glasses and I hope we will.

More music in accompaniment, this time some Beatles (John has a major collection of music on his phone) – some of the simpler early stuff, and some covers. I never knew they did covers. And we talked about how they had to stop touring because nobody could hear a thing they sang. And we talked about Paul and John and I told a story I’d heard about Paul lately. It’s always Paul and John isn’t it? Or John and Paul, perhaps. And the boys reminisced about The Isle of Wight, which was something.

This was another good day.

Words of Love

Hold me close and
Tell me how you feel,
Tell me love is real.

Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you.
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm,
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm,

Let me hear you say
The words I long to hear,
Darling when you’re near.

Words of love you whisper soft and true
Darling I love you.
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm,
Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm,

Songwriter: Buddy Holly

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