Monday, July 10, 2006

So very far from home

There is something magical about the shrinking of the globe brought about by global warming. I mean by cheap flights in Europe. Hop on a plane in the English Midlands, hop off at Rennes, and a short zip up the N137 and you are there, in heaven. Cora, á St Jouan-des-Guérets.

Having stocked up on French basics; bread, blue President butter, two kilos of fat juicy crevettes, strawberry tarts, and not forgetting a couple of boxes of Nescafe pur arabica espresso coffee sticks; and called into the restaurant there for lunch, it's a short drive to our house beside the sea.

Long, long days of books, painting, music, maps and walking, laughter, cooking, shopping, driving barely any distance, tequila sunrises and Gordon's sunsets (giggling here), visiting each churchyard and church and war memorial between here and there, watching France win their way all the way to the final; and finally shoulders emerge from ears, foreheads unwrinkle and smiling becomes a permanent fixture. And no bloody gardening. Well, almost no gardening. Walking towards a particularly beautiful cemetery I pulled up a handful of oak seedlings from last autumn's acorns that had settled and sprouted into the approaching gravel paths.

There is something so good and right and proper about the decision by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to plant the headstone borders and surrounding gardens with trees and plants that create a clear attachment between the gardens and landscapes at home, and the foreign fields where the soldiers lie. And for those farm hands and country boys of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment who died so far from home, the familiar trees and hedgerows of home were brought to them. The cooling summer canopy of broad leafed trees of the English Midlands. I potted up the seedlings immediately after arriving home.