The Republican calendar name for this month, Thermidor, needs no explanation. Perhaps, this year however, it is mere nostalgia, for this has been one of those summers that is so rainy and cold that we have had a fire in the grate on a number of evenings. There have been occasional days of extraordinary surges of the thermometer to 45 C, and then the reversion to cold and rain.
After about four pages on the beauties of the song of the lark, Le Roy writes that this is the month of threshing. By hand. With a flail. In the hot sun. People beat the cut wheat to separate the grain from the chaff. Le Roy comments that it was particularly hard for the women, as they had to keep up with the pace of the men or risk getting whacked by another's flail if the rhythm were lost. He also moans about the suffocating dust that would fill the air, as well as one's mouth, nose and throat, and stick to any exposed skin. (In spite of his poetic descriptions of the rustic life, Le Roy goes on so much about irritants of dust and pollen that we suspect he may have suffered from a number of allergies himself.)
For us, no flailing, but it looks as if the hedges will be producing a bumper crop of sloes (prunelles sauvages) this year and we will be harvesting them this week and making sloe gin (eau de vie). Should you find yourselves near Périgueux this summer, stop by for a glass!
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©2014 Anne Morddel