Two days of fine sunny weather and we've all gone mad. I swear the beagle winked at me today as his nonchalantly clicked his heels like a pair of snappy castanets and smiled, a big succulent drool of a smile that caused me to stop in my tracks and wonder why the permanently depressed looking canine actually managed to look happy, for once. Maybe it had something to do with me being out in the garden at six a.m., weeding and watering to my hearts content. Singing along with the birds, trying without any luck to spot the elusive cuckoo.
Sunburn prevails. Before you shake a finger at us, you have to be kind. Understand. Out of the gloom and doom of months of rain and storms we are allowed to burn ourselves a little. We are allowed to be blameless. I mean when you have not seen proper sunshine since last September, well, we are entitled to a little Vitamin D. I bet my bottom euro that if you happened to live here you would do the same. It's called abandon. Stripping off. Letting the bod breathe. Luring the white skin into the ether, the ozone, whatever. And besides, to be honest, any sun protection cream in this house is way out of date, possibly expired since the last warm week we happened to experience which was possibly in 2009.
Still, H has taken to calling me Pequito - whatever that means. He gets lusty in warm weather. Thinks he is a young thing again. I think Pequito sounds like a sauce, a red hot sauce that would burn any taste sensation right out of your mouth. Still it is nice. Pequito, what's for dinner? Pequito, do you want me to take the clothes in off the line? Pequito, I love your ankles, I haven't seen them in years.
And all of a sudden the house is transformed in this strange sunshine. Gone the rain drenched cottage, swaying in the gale force winds that rage in from the Atlantic. Yes, you got it, it's a villa now - by the sea smothered in night-scented stock and Sweet William galore. Honestly, they are popping up like wild fire. And the tadpoles swarm in the pond like crazy, ravenous beings. Thousands of black blotches eager to finally transform themselves so that they can journey into the exotic jungle of bogland behind the garden gate.
I pick radishes for the dinner salad the size of golf balls. My son lies in the hammock beneath the Monterey pines and tells me that for a minute he thought he was nine again. I glide up across the grass, call the Small dog to me, never far, but still always needing my voice. I stop at the door. I have picked fresh thyme for the dish I am making for dinner. I am blanching tomatoes after I've scooped out the pulp. I am filling them with my own concoction. I am trying to recall when I was seventeen, living in France, standing beside Madame in her kitchen watching her cook. I close my eyes. I see her. I see the steps she took, meticulous, convicted. I follow her in my mind like I am back there but I am not. I open my own back door, walk in, begin to cook. The windows are open. All my dreams float back like the tomato juice stains on the counter top and I celebrate the maps etched on all that I have not yet travelled and the ones I can recall with just a hint of yellow sunshine to ease the way.