In France for the last gasp of summer and even half way down the west coast, not far from the mouth of the Gironde, the change in seasons was obvious as August slipped into September.
Sunflowers bow their heads, yellow petals turn to brown, seed-packed and ready for harvest to make oil. The grapes, still a couple of weeks from harvesting, hang heavy on the vines. Many in this area, on the right bank of the river and well to the north of Bordeaux, will be made into a rather basic wine that can be distilled into cognac or pineau, a sweet, fortified aperitif. Maize is still standing, corn cobs fat and full of kernels.
The weather, however, is on the turn. After a day of full sun and temperatures in the low 30s, we get up early the next morning for a bicycle ride to the boulangerie and it is a chilly 10C – cool enough to need a sweater. Within an hour or two, however, and the chill has burned off signalling another hot day.
Mares' tails in the sky the following evening reveal a further change is coming, the cirrus clouds foretelling that wind and perhaps rain is on the way. Our French next-door neighbour has a magnificent crop of tomatoes and generously shares them. Mists and mellow fruitfulness, French-style.
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Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014