Friday, June 19, 2009

Feeling Sheepish?

A wet walk (23 kms) home from Lavelanet this morning. We are paying the price for a few hot days. After nearly 3 years of dithering around, the temperature suddenly rose to its normal summer highs in the mid-30s. 30 was barely touched in 2007 and 2008, for about 4 days in total, which is fine by us. Mid-30s is far too hot, 25 is about right.

Along with the high temperatures, we had very high humidity and of course this has been followed, as usual here on the slopes of the Pyrenees, by thunderstorms and heavy downpours. The normal pattern between May and September is temperatures over 30, punctuated and cooled down by storms every 7 to 10 days. But brought to an end by thunderstorms after 2 days?

The thunder was rolling as I walked along the Voie Verte, which was a little concerning, as I was pretty exposed. And what about when I climbed the big hill at Rivel and was on a much higher point for a while - fortunately the storm had passed by the time I was there.

It has been a good week for spotting animals. Gay and I saw a young fox crossing the road in front of us a few days ago. Several times while walking in the woods I have heard herds of wild boar a-gruntin' and a-snortin' very close by. On one occasion there was an almighty gruntin' and a sudden noise. I thought I was about to be charged but fortunately they must have been running away. Yesterday I heard the sound of a lot of hooves to my left, in the woods. I was peering that way, then looked forward to see a mangnificently-antlered cerf (red deer stag) crossing the track in front of me. I gather he was the rearguard and I had missed the rest. What beautiful animals they are.

The animal story of the week concerns not wild animals, but sheep. As I was passing the Chinaman's house the other day, I crossed over to shake his flimsy hand - he must weigh less than 100 pounds - where he sat, as usual, in the shade of his garage. He asked me if I wanted some sheep, some moutons, some brebis. He obviously knows somebody who is selling some of these. He seemed most sincere in the offer. I reminded him I am a vegetarian but he still thought the offer was good.

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