Monday 4 September signals la rentrée in France. I love this time of the year even though it means the summer is over. It’s when everyone returns to work, to school and normality after the long summer holidays and there’s a feeling of enthusiasm and joy in the air. Better yet, the shops are all open. It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses close for summer here in France, even restaurants, just when you think they would be busiest!
In preparation for the winter my neighbours make jam and freeze boiled summer fruits and vegetables. They store produce from their gardens and fields, potatoes are hoarded in cellars, carrots stored in boxes of sand. Pumpkins start to be harvested and there is always a contest to see who grew the biggest in the village – one year a green fingered monsieur grew one so large no one could lift it and it had to be rolled into a tractor bucket to get it out of the garden. If you’d have put 4 wheels on it I think I could have driven it to the shops that are now open.
They’re not the only ones preparing for winter. Wild pigs and deer, and birds of all kinds start some serious foraging, and my adopted hedgehogs – there are five of them that regularly feed at the back door, will start to eat more, ready for hibernating.
It’s a time for celebration of the harvest and every village will hold a party. Called a Ducasse or a Kermesse, the entire village is invited to join in with a meal, usually mussels and chips, accompanied by copious amounts of beer, wine or cider followed by dancing, often going on until the early hours of the morning. Even the dogs join in, howling at the surprising and unusual nocturnal noise in this normally tranquil countryside.
My ducks, geese and chickens like this time of the year, especially when I chuck the fallen apples into the pen! My three dogs love to run in the cooler weather when the farmers cut the fields of sweet corn (maize) and they can race down the neat lines, searching for grouse and pheasant which they never catch.
Wishing you a very bonne rentrée
Click on the link to read the whole newsletter and round up of fab features with lush photos: September 4 2017 newsletter
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ps the top photo is of my three dogs Ella Fitzgerald, Churchill and Frank Bruno (in the far distance) running in my village on a sunny autumn day!