I caught the wind making waves in this field and the sky above it yesterday. Usually I am the one making waves around here…it is nice to have company.
‘Faire des vagues’ is one of those rare expressions that works as well in French as it does in English. To make waves, to rock the boat.
The wind also makes waves in water, and we get our share of those on Lac Léman, aka Lake Geneva (although don’t call it that to certain purists for whom ‘le Léman’ is much more than the international city!) This area is known as the Arc Lémanique and includes the entire ‘arc’ on the Swiss side from Geneva to Lausanne all the way to Montreux.
From whence the group Deep Purple wrote the song that defined a certain period of my youth…
The wind has died down today and with it the waves. I can almost see the smoke on the water across the lake. And am waiting with baited breath for a new season to begin.
It has been a long, dry summer here in France. The earth is parched, the fields bleached by the sun. Normally the final days of August and early September bring a few big storms but so far they have missed us. This morning, the rain has rarely been so welcome.
La pluie is not something we often rejoice over here in France. It is not like the English rain, so light and prevalent. When it rains here, it pours. And generally brings with it a mood that is like the weather – maussade (pronounced: moh-sad) Meaning gloomy, dull, sad.
Perhaps that is why I used to confuse the verbs ‘pleuvoir’ and ‘pleurer’. To rain and to cry. I may have once told my husband that his mother was raining. Things could be stormy when she was around, so it may not have been entirely unintentional.
Long ago I gave up on trying to find the logic behind the attribution of gender in French. No matter how you try, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. I find you have greater success if you let your instincts rather than your memory guide you. Somehow la pluie feels right. Rain must surely be feminine, just as wind – le vent – is masculine.
I love the smell of rain. I love the way it sounds upon the roof. I love to sit outside on my balcony and watch the patterns it makes across the sky over the Léman, as I did in this photo from last summer.
Perhaps what I love most about the rain is that it forces me to sit inside and ponder it. Curl up and read a book, enjoy the comfort of being warm and dry inside. And some of my fondest memories of childhood are running around outside as the skies opened up after a hot dry spell.
‘Sky’ is one of those French words that sounds completely different in the plural form. Le ciel, les cieux. So it is with the skies above us and the summer season – they are transformed into something other worldly.
The advent of summer often finds me outside staring at the sky. So much is going on above our heads and at this time of year it captivates my attention.
Our house is on the flight path into Geneva. Lac Léman is like a highway for air traffic in and out of the neighbouring Swiss city. Planes landing make me feel relaxed and somehow happy, as if the homecoming were my own. Planes taking off are noisier and more intrusive, yet they often circle so high above us that the sound is very far away, a distant reminder of people setting off to see the world.
I lie on my reclining chair (oh, the wonders of this reclining chair, as good as the dentist’s only without the pain) and watch the silver bullets above. Sometimes it seems the planes are playing tic tac toe as their white tails criss-cross in the sky.
The birds in these parts are a treat. We had dinner by the lake the other night and these little ones provided quite the spectacle. Although they were with some ducks, I am convinced these are baby swans. Any ornithological experts care to weigh in?
Above us, the constantly circling hawks are mesmerizing. They coast way up high on currents of air, emitting strange high-pitched sounds. Although I suspect they are hunting for prey, it is relaxing to watch them circle and soar. At ground level, swallows swoop and dip into the pool for a drink. Little green and yellow birds flit and peep in the garden.
The clouds have been especially amazing this year. The turbulent weather pattern this spring and early summer has brought constantly changing skies that are a wonder to behold. Each glorious day must be savoured; in winter we often get dull days of fog and cannot see the mountains just across the lake.
Something magical happens to the light around Lake Geneva at this time of year. It glows as if lit from within. Although I am a morning person, we get amazing sunset views.