Hard rain with big drops slapping against the roof and the skylights woke me up at five this morning. That was a good excuse to roll over, pull the covers up around my ears, and stay right where I was. I've always enjoyed rainy days, unless there are too many of them in a row. Right now, it looks like November outside.
It's still raining hard at 7:45. And it's dark — I had to turn on all the lights in the kitchen and living room so that I could see to walk around and get a pot of tea brewing. We're starting to wonder if summer will come back at all. It's been raining off and on since July 12. Oh well, we don't have to water the garden any more, and that'll keep the water bill down. But it also helps the weeds grow really long, tough roots.
Yesterday we had lunch at our neighbors'. They are the couple who live in Blois and have the house across the street as their summer place. They invited another woman we're friends with who lives on the other side of the village. Walt and I brought the average age way down. The three neighbors are 76, 81, and 81 years old.
M. served a nice salad with lettuce, tomatoes, smoked salmon, and surimi. Then she had monkfish, cut into big chunks, served in what's called a sauce américaine or armoricaine. There's some confusion over the name of this particular sauce, which is probably not actually American but Breton (armoricain) in origin. At any rate, it's a light tomato sauce that contains a lot of cream, so it's the color, more or less, of thousand island dressing. It's rich but not spicy, and it's often served with lobster.
Then there was cheese, of course. She had a platter that included a local goat cheese, a camembert, and a couple of hard cheeses. It was a lot like the cheese platter I put together for dinner with other friends a couple of days ago. I probably learned the combination from having lunches and dinners with the neighbors here.
The conversation was about local happenings and personalities: Who just died, for example. Whose neighbors are making too much noise, playing loud music. What's going on with the neighbors who have several cats. What the cats, including Bertie the black cat who lives with us, are up to. How busy our neighbor-the-mayor is all the time. The weather. The way cars go too fast on the road through the hamlet, and who all those cars belong to. Our dogs and their recent adventures. Our American company.
Tonight the friends from San Francisco who were our very first houseguests here in Saint-Aignan back in 2003 are coming for a return visit. They are spending the summer in London and are taking the train from London to Lille to Tours. When they visited in 2003, their daughter was one year old. They were here during the Great Heat Wave — la grande canicule de 2003 — and we were just barely moved in at that point.
Now the daughter is nine years old, and she has a little brother who must be five or six. There won't be any canicule — "dog days" — during this visit, according to forecasts. One of the things the family wants to do is go to the Saint-Aignan zoo. I hope the rain will hold off on either Saturday or Sunday and that they'll have a dry afternoon.
I'm trying to figure out what kind of food to have ready for young children. I have a chicken I can cook. Yesterday I made a big bowl of tuna salad. We have cheeses, but not many that will appeal to children, I'm afraid. I guess I ought to think about some green vegetables. Collard greens? Probably not...
The news was just reporting that the grape harvest in Burgundy will probably be three weeks earlier than normal because of all the warm dry weather we had in April, May, and June. Around here, the grapes definitely are not ripe — they are all still green, even the red wine grapes — and they'll need a little more heat and sunshine to get ready for harvesting. Even when August is rainy and chilly, September is usually sunny and sometimes hot. We'll see.