remembering france: weather and moods



The discovery of how in France my moods were shaped by the weather may not be profound, but having grown up in a part of the world with even-tempered climes and usual days of sunshine and blue sky (whatever the season) this was a big realisation for me.

Suddenly I found myself  in the cold of european winter, relentless rain of early spring, light of midsummer and fragrance of spring - reeling with delight, melancholy, bitterness. I had to learn how to keep myself healthy and grounded whatever the weather. This included the daily ritual of opening the traditional wooden shutters to our windows. This simple act of unbolting and opening would instantly transform our little house - allow in whatever light we were blessed with that day, fresh air, and when the sun came out we would beckon her into our home for gold and heat.

In winter especially I took to buying a cheap bunch of fresh flowers at the market every week or so to brighten a dark corner... to see something alive and blooming.

I remembered the saying "there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing" and disciplined myself to get out for a walk every single day with reuben. He strapped to my front or side or back, bundled in warm layers, armed with umbrellas, or not, in loose cotton and sandals... even my most tired face and frustrated heart was refreshed by the simple act of getting out and going somewhere.

Two-years living in unfamiliar weather helped me learn more about myself - my tendency to dip in weeks of overcast and grey-coloured weather, the uncontainable joy in sunshine on the face or being able to dry laundry outside in the breeze, to never take these simple blessings for granted, and to know that it's possible to wait patiently for change that you cannot bring about yourself...  when you have lived through the cool bleakness of winter - noticed it, celebrated and borne it - spring is sweet relief, restorative, life-giving...