May In The Haute Marne

The charms of May are as fickle as an old spinster when she receives her company.  The month may become settled in its old ways and remain cool and reserved or it may cast off winters dark suit and erupt in spontaneous gaiety.  This year the coolness of the season is due more to heaver cloud cover that threatens pouring rain and yet delivers little of the tears of spring.  Last year the breezes were warm with the occasional drops of rain that make the flowers bloom more brilliantly in the sun.  And June brought the stroke of heat than swelters and wilts any Englishman.  Us Texans are of a more hardy stock, it ain’t hot till it reaches three numbers on the thermometer.  I am not a native of that great state, having been born close to the Mason Dixon line, but through the grace of George W. Bush, when he was the Secretary of State for the State of Texas, and the two dollars I sent in with my application to that office, I was duly appointed a Texan and thereby entitled to all the rights and duties therein.  Such as eating barbecue and drinking the craft beers of that state.  And I am authorized to let out a “Yee Haw” when occasion or mood deem it fit.  And up until the beginning of the eighties it was lawful to keep a loaded firearm and an open container of alcohol on the front seat as you drove your vehicle anywhere in the great state.  They did outlaw the open container.  But I digress.  Back to spinsters and the weather.

So far this month of May has not been as cold as two years prior, which also saw far more water run under the bridge and over the fields, but it’s coolness had meant long sleeve shirts and sweaters most of the time.  I have greater hopes for June, I could do with a bit more warmth during the day as I like to open the house to the fresh air.  There are a couple of Jasmine trees in my garden and I simply adore the aroma when the day is warm and the breeze sweeps through the house with that perfumed air that lingers through the evening.  But not this year.  The blossoms are turning brown and committing suicide in the tall grass below.  I have to yet take the electric weed whacker and teach the greenery a lesson in good manners.  But the weeds and grasses never learn, they’ll do it again next year, dolts that they are.  Perhaps if I were Mrs Dalloway and sing-sang my way through life in an off key voice the flora would have more respect.  But I need not stream my own consciousness, I now have the internet to do it for me, one of those apps the more literate people have on their smart phones.  Only ten more days left in this month before June gets a chance to warm us up.  The weather forecasts have been inaccurate, as usual.  When the forecast is accurate the French declare a national holiday and go on strike for better weather.

June is a good month here, time to get out and visit the very small independent champagne producers south of the main region around Reims.  These little guys are almost unknown in he states and the import duties (four bucks a bottle, I do believe) really hike up the prices in the retail shops.  Of course if you’re part of the one percent then price is no objection to over paying for anything.  My own wine collecting goes in fits and starts here.  When the 2009 vintage came out I stocked up the cellar with many cases of good wines.  I can’t afford the best chateaux, their prices are far above my ability or desire to pay for the greatly overpriced quality.  But I have found a great many very enjoyable and good quality bottles of the common chateaux at inexpensive prices.  This year and last I was content to only buy a few bottles and drink the cellar down.  Wine collections are like spinsters, they tend to live forever while their suitors die young.  Right now I am aiming for young to mean 87.  I would rather leave a few bottles than have the few bottles leave me.  Or, as it has been said, there is truth in wine and we should hope that such truth outlives us.  Well, yes, fecundity is its own reward and rarely pays well.

So as the warmer weather approaches I can open the windows and warm these old stone walls.  The I shall be spending time with a chisel and hammer removing the old mortar to a depth of two or three inches and replacing it with fresh.  I think the current cost per square meter by the local stone masons is fifty euros.  It was only forty five years ago.  If I had to hire a mason to do the work for me I would have to sell the house to pay for it.  Besides, it really is a simple DYI thing, any fool can do it and I am any fool to do it.  Or put another way, it is just a way of fighting old age and keeping up the pretense that I am only twenty five now that I am in my sixties.  Call it a positive attitude instead of a second foolish youth.  Pretense is everything with such positive attitudes.  So I store up truth in my cellar and keep up the pretense in hops that one day the two shall meet and become of the same mind.  That would prove interesting, hope I live long enough to see it.  You see, life either has meaning or it has amusement.  I prefer amusement since if holds so much charm.  Meaning is an old stick int the mud, a party pooper.  I would not want to reach death and say that my life was filled with meaning but I had no fun.

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