As the granddaughter (and great niece) of farmers, I spent every summer in the countryside, but our ‘maison de campagne’ (country house) style looked nothing like the beauties below!
Never throw out old notebooks, even with the looming threat of an overseas move. I just came across these lines of poetry. I transcribe them as they are, unpolished, but there is room for development at some later point in time.
I come from a long line of peasant women
plodding uphill on the hottest of days
tilling the soil
lifting full metal buckets of water
dropping babies in the cornfields then back to work.
Men gone to war on fronts left and right
cattle rounded up for troops
making do with bone soup and cornmeal pap
nettle soup and pumpkin plump.
I come from a long line of stoics
who expect no respite from labour
no love everlasting
work is their curse and due and praise
and rest comes too seldom
no one owes anyone happiness.
They crawl up the mountain like a murder of crows
in their black widows’ garb
laugh with gaps in their teeth
grey plaits swung firmly under kerchiefs.
They have never dieted in their lives
food fuels their bending and plucking
running after sheep.
They can drink men under the table.
and bred in me a fibre
smacks of backbone
yet fluid like a reed
when the breeze turns into storm.
I live in a rural area on the Franco-Swiss border, but the proximity to Geneva makes it a popular place to live, so there are always building works going on. Given the nice weather today (we have not been blessed with much sunshine this summer), I thought I’d take a walk through some traditional local villages. And document it with pictures, before they completely disappear under the weight of new blocks of flats.
Today’s walk started and ended in Grilly, a village bearing the name of a medieval lord de Grailly, who owned approximately a thousand hectares of land straddling the Versoix river (which nowadays forms the border between France and Switzerland) and controlled the trade route between Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains.
Summer at last and the heat is going to our heads over at dVerse Poets Pub. Here is a remembrance of things past and a vision of things future.
Our summers no longer the buzz-filled lolling
in hay mounds
or stooping for details
and blow-squeak through grass stalks.
No more lifting our gaze for cloud-naming, tongue-hopping,
when laid-back wonders were open to all
and the neighbours’ cherries the sweetest by far.
Now lazy means each one tucked snug on our planet
in a bubble of tablets and phones,
convinced we’re connecting
enthralled to go global
we feel the roar and hum of the entire world in our palms.
While bees expire by installments around us…