We set out early, just a day or so after the longest day, as it looked set to be hot, and I wanted to take a longer walk.
We passed Victor's place. I always like the industrious orderliness of the place, especially since he stopped keeping rabbits.
And there is Victor, going into his garage. I wonder if that vine ever produces anything.
Looking through the gap between Victor's barn and one of his many woodpiles, an old set of ploughshares, and beyond, red roses round the door of the scruffiest house in the village. (I keep meaning to put together a pictorial map of the village; I made a start, but it was complicated, I wanted to put too much detail in. I may take a template from Mappy and try that way...)
On Brochain's corner, the iris foetidissima is flowering. Very smelly iris! It's berries are interesting in winter too, perhaps more so than the flower.
We walk up to the ridge road. It is growing warmer, and the sun draws the moisture up from the earth, so that it condenses in droplets like fisheyes on the underside of the plastic mulch round the maize plants.
Rather than turning at the second road to the left, which is our usual circuit, we carry on down the lane towards la Tantouille, once the hideout of Chouans and vagabonds. Each break in the hedge gives a subtly different vista onto the countryside inland.
The trunks of aspen trees also seem full of eyes,
and I catch one of these meadow brown butterflies resting, which is unusual. They are more shadowy and elusive than the later gatekeepers which they resemble, and float over the fields of wheat and barley in a quite linear and purposeful fashion.
That stalwart icon of Brittany, the artichoke; Brittany Ferries was founded on the strength of this vegetable, you know!
Ancient granite crosses at the roadside like this one are sometimes called Merovingian, though who knows if they really are? They must be of great age to be so worn and weathered.
A peaceful Brittany Spaniel had a good look at us. These dogs were a 19th century creation, bred from crossing English setters with the general purpose mutt favoured by the Breton charcoal burners. Some are quite graceful elegant creatures, others hang their heads low and seem to have an rough-edged independence about them, more of the charbonnier's mutt than the setter. This one has a sweet face though.
So there it is, midsummer, sunny and warm and fine and dandy. Yet, though I took scores of pictures, I ditched most of them. They were, quite simply, uninteresting; flat, overexposed, without shadows or highlights. Many of those I have used have been cropped or had their levels fiddled with to help them along. The brilliant meridional midsummer sun, even at this comparitively early hour, was simply too much. Doubtless a better knowledge of apertures would help the over-exposure (I have tried but seem unable to retain anything I learn...), but this wouldn't change the lack of obliqueness of the light which, for me, makes photographs interesting.
So, am I seriously complaining about it being summer? This is, surely, what we spend the springtime in exquisite anticipation of, and what we are looking back on in the delicious, heartbreaking, attenuated melancholy and nostalgia of autumn? Because this is it, isn't it? This is the moment, the splendid, effulgent mid-point, the sun at its height, the hours and hours of generous daylight, the sheer luxuriance of it all, especially when it's doing what it's supposed to do, and showing up all sunny and warm for a change. We should be feasting on this glut of sunlight, 'just soaking in the light, as if refueling after the long dark winter', as Marja-Leena says, who being Finnish, has a special feeling for the summer solstice!
What's not to like? Do I dare to feel a little disappointed? Quite simply, like many things exquisitely anticipated or wistfully looked back on, the reality is just a little bit flat, an anti-climax; you've got what you were waiting for, what now? What else is there?
'And summer dreamed sadly, for she thought all was ended
But the joy of spring and autumn, paradoxically, are not in looking forward to or back on summer, but in experiencing that heightened ecstatic speedy vernal tilt, where you want it to stay a moment but its glory is in running through your fingers, or that slow, sad, lingering decline when nothing is so beautiful as what is about to die, and it looks back with love and longing one more time. Experiencing them just for their own sake. We need that, and we need obliqueness, we need the shadows, to know things fully.
But summer is wonderful anyway. I'm really not complaining...
Over at Compasses, Joe speaks of hope and fear. I'm a bit late with this, most of you have already found your way there, I think. Thanks for your continued support with this, we've departed from the original thread now, and are having such an interesting time we're not inclined to stop.
Blogger has started doing something really annoying whereby you can't move photos around once you've uploaded them except by a slow and laborious process of leapfrogging one over another. Anyone else having trouble with this? Just been looking at a friend's lovely new Wordpress blog. It's looking more and more tempting. With the time and frustration incurred jigging this post around I could probably have begun to master Wordpress - and the picture quality's better there too...