Summertime (and the livin’ is easy)

“Pinch punch ¬†first of the month, and no returns!”
This was the opening line my school mates used when grabbing a hefty lump of my arm flesh followed by a blow to the upper arm.
I could not, according to the rhyme, return the torture.
Today I was spared this school yard routine, but awoke with that notion that the first day of the month is somehow special.
Like the start of a new day, the first day of the month arouses a newly found enthusiasm, like the beginning of a new year.
Here in France the new month signals a weekend of highway nightmares as the French cross each other as one half of the nation returns home after their long summer break, and the other half sets out for the long-awaited August holiday. It is a short-lived frenzy before everyone settles down in their beach chair and relaxes.
Some of us stay at home, and it is hard to describe to an outsider what August is like in rural France.
Most of the year my home environs are very quiet, but August brings a pervading silence that you can almost taste.
Businesses close for the month – family concerns cannot stretch to employing summer labour cover, so it is easier to close their doors and trade for eleven months instead of twelve.
Strangely, restaurants close their doors – an obvious candidate for summer visitors and increased trade, the owners gently recuse themselves and head for the beach.
The boulanger shakes the flour from his hands, dons his shorts and sun hat, leaving his trade to his competitors who in turn will do the same for him when he escapes to the beach.
It is the same everywhere – it is no surprise when you ring up one of the legion of government departments with a query. to be told to call back as the person in charge of my dossier is en vacances.. It seems to be bad form to offer to take a colleague’s casework over through fear of overwork – They are, after all, government workers.
The weather rarely fails to disappoint, and the days are languid and the nights are often stuffy and humid.
We all rise later in the morning and time seems to stand still for those thirty-one days.
Yes we all adhere to the quiet code of summer here, and you hear nothing by way of complaint.
The wine is good, the food better, and there abundant good company to share this bounty.


One Comment Add yours

  1. stevemorton says:

    August will be a busy month for us, two lots of visitors, fortunately with about a week or so between them, one coming by train, the other under their own steam by car, so I will not be the Poitiers Taxi that much this month!

    France though isn’t the only European country that ‘closes for August’ The Dutch do a similar thing and the Belgiums are also ‘not available’ The two leather organiser companies I deal with in Holland and Beligum have both said talk to you in September Steve… enjoy the holiday….

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