Autumn is a time of renewal in France at PumpjackPiddlewick

Sure there is New Year’s for resolutions and new beginnings, but here in France there is la rentrée. Simply put it is the time when kids go back to school. But it is also a time of renewal.

Most French people, especially with kids, take a major holiday in August. So with batteries recharged, September has a real sense of getting things done. And we here at Chez Pumpjack & Piddlewick feel similar.

September still generally has lovely weather where we are. Sure the days are getting shorter, but warm days encourages one to go outside. The garden in particular beckons in this time of renewal. Where August was too hot to really do much except in the early hours, now with the slightly cooler days again (think spring) thoughts turn to planning, clearing and preparing for next year.

The rest of the potatoes are brought up, and a little lettuce planted in their place. The last of the beans are being harvested, carrots continue growing and pumpkins are ripening. Dead raspberries canes are pruned. And we attempt to clear the last(?) of the pesky bindweed of the season.

It’s also time to tend the strawberries. New shoots that have rooted need replanting. A few new varieties are added to lengthen the growing season. This year we’ve gone for one that provides fruit from May to October. Now where to plant…

We’ve earmarked the area by the top wall of the veg garden. This area in the past has been used as a trellis tunnel that was always a wee bit too low to make it comfortable to walk under. The tunnel will be moved and improved to cover the next bed, once the carrots are all harvested.

Making the space at the top of the veg garden another strawberry patch means all the areas that make up the borders surrounding the veg patch will be perennials. That is, once planted they come back year after year. What’s not to love about perpetual strawberries?!

Beyond the veg garden, there’s more digging to be done in Big Dig 1, Side B. Slow progress is being made getting the broken tiles out. This time of renewal gives a new sense of vigour and focus. More opportunities are taken to dig and clear. With the ducks helps of course.

With slightly cooler weather, plus the odd rain shower to dampen the ground, it’s much more pleasant to dig too. And definitely more worms to be found. Hence, lots and lots of duck help.

We added new girls to our flock as well. All little, all white call ducks. They have settled in well and are coming to terms with the routine. As moulting season comes to an end, the sense of renewal also extends to the ducks. They are coming together more and more to become a cohesive flock. (And will stay that way until they pair up in February to start the rebirth cycle once more.)

Each morning I am greeted with great excitement. Gabby is always first to the door to say hello and we have a lovely cuddle (if he didn’t stay in the house with us). Maggie is coming back on form as her new feathers are almost in and she insists on a little play time.

Everyone then races out of the duck enclosure to play king (or queen) of the mountain. Lots of flapping and flights are taken to the veg patch to exercise the wings. It’s a wonderful, playful and chaotic time.

We repeat this playful time in the early evening. Pumpjack and I enjoy a glass of wine on the patio and simply watch the ducks at play. We have decided, as the dirt mound is such a favourite, that we must keep a version of it in the garden for the ducks. It will have to move as part of Big Dig 1, Side B, but we have already earmarked a place about half way down the top garden. And at some point we will figure out how to make it more interesting than simply a large dirt mound.

Thoughts turn also to the interior in this time of renewal. Shorter days mean a change in schedule. As early risers, in the past the first port of call was feeding and releasing the beasts, whether ducks, cats or dog. Now, suddenly it seems, dawn is quite late.

Still getting up early, the dark hours are now times of work. For Pumpjack, writing his book. For me, a chance to work on shop items. This might be editing and titling photographs, researching items, or setting up listings on either our P&P Shop or my French Silk Scarf Shop.

September brings a renewed sense of energy. A focus on getting new items in for the shops in preparation for the holidays. Then the days are taken up with cleaning, photographing and getting these items listed.

Beyond the day to day work, this time of renewal also turns our thoughts to work on the house itself. Cooler days will lead to colder. This year plans are afoot to actually have some heating. We also have insulation sitting in our barn that will be added to the attic to aid in keeping us warm. And the purchase of an electric blanket will not go amiss.

Speaking of the attic, we spent last week staring at the stairs that go up there. Three treads are missing, and the stairs themselves are very cobbled together.

Whilst standing ad staring at the built in staircase with toilet underneath, we hit on the solution. The toilet will stay where it is, but if we take out the stairs completely we can build a new set stairs. Much safer than trying to rebuild something. We will then not enclose the stairs, only the little room under the stairs.

By building new, we can also widen, as there is the hall space to do so. This gives the added bonus of making the loo space under the stairs a little larger, and thus more comfortable.

So you see September, here in France, is quite the month. Now, pardon me, but I have lots to do.

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