Sunday, July 3, 2011

Purple Buzz

Another absolutely gorgeous morning greets us on Friday.  We have decided to stay close to home today to rest and recuperate from our hectic pace and to ensure I don’t get even more sick than I already am.
Breakfast is again one of those improvised meals using what’s at hand and is quickly cleared away.  Hayley and I then turn our focus to the outdoors with our cameras.

Leading up to the front door there is a 2 foot wide hedge of the deepest purple lavender I have ever seen.  The hedge has a living pulse of its own as at least 4 dozen insects swarm over it at any time.  As you get close enough to investigate the vibrating hum, you begin to notice that there are at least a half a dozen different types of bees in there.  As you watch, you notice the big guy darting around.  He’s a little over an 1.25” long and looks like a cross between a humming bird and a moth.  We looked him up on the Internet and learned he is a Hummingbird Hawk Moth.  We’ve been trying to get a picture of him, but even setting the shutter speed up and playing with the ISO, we can’t get a good picture.  Just when I think I’ve got the shutter speed set at something that would stop bullets, I get this blur.  We haven’t gotten tired of watching it.  Here’s a link to some photos of it.

Here's our version of the moth.

Right below the pigeonnier is a pond.  We noticed when we first got here this noise coming from the pond.  It’s the oddest noise.  Kind of like a cross between a frog and a duck and someone playing the accordion out of tune.  We go looking for whatever it is, but never see it until Des happens along and shows Bob the frogs.  Their voices fill the air and seem like they must  belong to frogs the size of dinner plates.  When you finally see them, they are only about 4-5” across!  There is one bright green frog and several brown ones.  Apparently, it’s mating season which accounts for the “serenade”.

Which brings me to how quiet it is here.  The only noises are the ducks, the frogs, the birds and the myriad of insects in the lavender hedge.  It is so peaceful here, it is unbelievable. 

Bess sometimes comes to check on us.  She joined us while we were eating lunch.  She lays patiently outside the door waiting for us to finish.  Later when we are finished and go back outside, she joins us.  She minds well and is a very nice companion.   Bess was kept in the house yesterday morning to allow the mother duck to come up and get her 7 ducklings down to the pond on the other side of the lane.  This morning when Hayley and I went down there with Des, there were only 6 left.   

After lunch, Hayley and I took a walk up along the road to take pictures back towards the pigeonnier.  We saw a dead red fox alongside the road.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a fox that close up before - alive or dead.  On the way back, we stopped to talk with the cows at the top of the lane.  One of them came up and proceeded to stare at us until I stepped up on the embankment to get a little closer.  That seemed to spook her and she jumped away.  As we walked slowly down the hill, the cows proceeded to trot along with us in spurts.  We’d stop and they’d stop and stare.  Occasionally, the one in front would startle and move, but we soon discovered it was because one of the other cows had butted the cow with its head which then made it the new cow in front.  It was odd to watch.  Eventually, they lost their interest in us and remained behind.   

We also walked around behind the pigeonnier and discovered Joyjoy (phonetic spelling here) an older horse with a bit of a hitch in his giddyup.  He was very interested in seeing if we had any treats for him.  We came back later with some carrot tops.

We spent the afternoon reading, or trying to capture photos of the bees in the lavender hedge and I also worked on focusing dinner by preparing some apricots for the dessert I’d planned. 

Dinner was pork chops baked in the oven with onions, garlic and apples.  Accompanied by rice and sauteed zucchini, it worked out well as I proceeded to juggle the pans and improvise baking without my favorite french casserole.  Dessert was the poached apricots in a sauce served over some Belgian style waffles (gauffres) that I had purchased at the store.  The apricots were tart and the sauce tart sweet and it was yummy.   
After dinner we all went for a walk deciding to go into the little village of Litteau which one finds by taking a left at the top of the drive.  As we approached a small intersection where there were several fenced in fields, we were noticed by a mare and her new foal on the one side and a donkey on the right.  The donkey came trotting right up the corner and proceeded to bray almost like he was a watchdog.  I caught the tail end of it on video. 
We were all amazed and amused at the same time.

When we returned from our walk, we noticed that the mother duck now only had 5 ducklings left.  Between the herons scooping them out of the water and the magpies picking them off when they’re on dry land, it will be amazing if any make it to adulthood. 

One of the things that we’ve noticed is that we are at a higher latitude and therefore the days are longer.  We are constantly thrown off by the light cues.  What seems like 7pm is actually closer to 8:45 or 9pm.  I had noticed this when I moved from San Diego to Seattle, but this is totally new to Bob and has taken a little adjustment for him.  Not sure if the kids have noticed. 
We’re going to visit the DDay beaches tomorrow.  Everyone has turned in for the evening and so shall I.
Steps taken today: 7,487

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