Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Rude shock horror drama probe

Our peaceful, innocent viewing last night of Part 1 of a French TV adaptation - a very good one, a miracle of condensation - of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu was rudely interrupted by a heavy crash from outside. It was a dark and stormy night, not fit for man nor beast, and, thinking that a sudden gust might have carried away some items of garden furniture, I rushed out to the back of the house, to find that the only damage was to the birds' fat-ball bucket, whose lid had blown away. This happens several times a year. We get through a lot of lids.

Easily the least appealing element in our climate is a wind called the Tramontane, the 'across-mountain' which blows in monstrous gusts sometimes for days on end. It's the same wind as the better-known Mistral, which funnels down the Rhone valley well to the east of us. Cold and usually dry, the Tramontane blows off the Massif Central and when it reaches our valley it doesn't know where to go, so it blows in all directions at once, up and down as well as sideways. When the Tramontane's blowing in autumn, we can watch giant flurries of leaves blowing left to right along the back of the house. Moments later, another capricious gust will blow them all back again, right to left.

But last night it wasn't leaves. It was our precious lemon tree. I bought it for J. about five years ago. The usual practice here, where winter frosts are common, is to grow lemon and other citrus trees in pots or tubs on trolleys, so that they can be wheeled inside when temperatures drop below freezing. For the past few winters we've opted out of tugging it into the garage every time the mercury drops, and we've wrapped it in a blanket instead, a thin fabric several times folded that I could confidently say looks like ectoplasm if I'd ever seen any.

Anyway, last night a particularly violent gust upended it, ripped at the blanket like a Mills and Boon heroine's bodice, scattered lemons far and wide, smashed the terra cotta pot and made a few small gashes in the house wall for good measure. We bought a new pot this morning, the ever-helpful M. Hector came up this afternoon to assist with replanting it, and J. and I have just put its blanket back on, because it's freezing fast again.

Why am I telling you all this? Day-to-day events aren't really the Lydian Airs style. But today is Chandeleur (Candlemas) in France, when like Shrove Tuesday in the UK pancakes are served. Yum. And of course there'll be no shortage of fresh home-grown lemons to squeeze over the delectable, golden-brown, smiling pancakes. Why, they've even picked themselves.


Dave said...

You have just given me an appetite for pancakes. Sadly (like many others) that is a desire that will not be fulfilled.

Rog said...

It's nice of the French to give names to all their winds. It's like hurricanes, it gives them a personality and reduces the worry.
I'm thinking of calling last week's cold snap Trevor.

Z said...

I call the wind Maria.

Pancakes. Fine idea.

Candlemas. Christmas is over, then. That probably means we move from white to green. Check. *Remembers not churchwarden*. Remind to check.

You read Mills and Boon, Chris? Gosh.

Vicus Scurra said...

Please keep these articles coming, I am almost feeling the urge to write again. I know you, unlike most, will be charitable enough to encourage my conceit.

Christopher said...

Dave, they were excellent. I wish you could have shared them with us.

Rog: May I call you 'Hurricane'?

Z: I call the effect Rioja. I did once read M & B's 'Harvest of Venus' or some such title, thinking I might one day ape the style, calling myself Gramercy Lightowler and trousering fat royalties, as Edward VII's tailor used to say. But like so many projects it came to nothing.

Vicus: Some weeks ago you told us you were going to be engaged on a project (surely not writing for Mills and Boon?) so Kaliyuga Kronicles might be in abeyance for a while. We've waited a long's as though Dean Swift had gone on retreat, like others of our acquaintance.

english inukshuk said...

oooooh. . . fresh lemon juice squeezed onto sugared pancakes

totally delectable!


(hope the tree survived its tumble!)

english inukshuk said...


Rosie said...

The lemon tree is still up and running but everything else has blown away. I hope your tree survives.

Christopher said...

IE: See my reply to Dave.

Rosie: Have you had the same weather as we have? Tramuntana isn't just a supermarket in La Jonquera? And yes, our tree ought to survive, thank you. In fact it has been repotted (long overdue) and all the muscari that grew around the trunk like Zulu dancers' anklets has been replanted elsewhere.

Sarah said...

I've just bought a new pancake readiness.

Never read any M&B but remember a rather dog eared copy of an erotic novel, about a cotton picking slave and his Mistress, getting passed around the dorm. Maybe you should write something along those lines C. 'The musings...wink, wink,nudge,nudge.. of a Gentleman abroad'

Spadoman said...

Day-to-day events are the norm for mw these days, in fact, I haven't been by hardly any of my harem, I mean, my reader's blogs.
We have names for different winds as well. In Los Angeles, they have the Santa Ana winds. Up in the Northland, where I live, we have the Alberta Clipper, a wind that comes blowing Southeast from Arctic canada, (Alberta??), and brings us the cold weather, usually after a snowstorm.
The Hawaiian Islands have the pineapple Express, which is more wind driven rain.
Sorry about the lemon tree, but sounds as if it was transplanted without injuring the thing.


Christopher said...

Sah: I think I'll stick to musings about non-stick pans, like I hope your new one is. Richard Coeur de Lion was killed with the aid of a frying pan, did you know?

*looks in garage for helmet*

Spadoman: There's another local wind - from the east or south-east called in the dialect Lou grec or lou grego, i.e. 'the Greek'. It's always associated with a drip on the end of the nose. Thought you might like to know. Can't have people visiting here and going away unsatisfied. The lemon tree will be fine and I'm sure will flourish as mightily as your harem.


letouttoplay said...

Lemons rolling about all over the blogosphere it seems.
I'm glad to hear yours will survive.
After reading this I think it's time we had pancakes, we've got a lot of eggs and at least one (supermarket) lemon.