When I leave to do the school run, only 15 minutes to the next town and the same back, it is pitch black I usually get there and back before the day has really opened its eyes thus I go dressed in whatever I grab usually a scruffy pair of jeans and an old but warm jumper, no one is going to see me so it doesn't matter. Sometimes I stay like that all day safe in the garden getting muddy or in the studio getting clayee. I always however change and have a brush and scrub up if I'm expecting to have to meet the world in day light. Well almost always.
On one such morning of scarecrow look alike attire returning from the school dash as the dawn was breaking in a breathtaking shimmer of pinks and mauves seen through the mist hugging the ground. Too beautiful to miss I stopped to take this photograph . I stood and gazed in wonder at so much beauty and calm and thanked my guardian angel that I actually had my camera in the car for once. Then I drove off reluctantly. Actually it wasn't just me who drove reluctantly the car was a bit slow to want to budge and by the time I got to the bottom of the hill it became obvious that something was very much not right. I turned into the lane that leads through a now deserted hamlet to our lane and stopped to inspect the car. If you had to define a flat tyre then this was the perfect example totally flat, running on the wheel hub looking like something from a cartoon but without the humour. By now it was daylight. Maize harvest was in full swing and there wasn't a soul around. No friendly locals to ask for help, not enough agility to change a wheel and no chance of passing traffic I resorted to phoning the rescue service which my assurance company provide.
Wonderful. The day was beginning to warm up into one of those clear hot days of an Indian summer and I was stranded in a quiet byway talking french to someone in Paris whose native tongue was obviously something else. Eventually with me resorting to slang we established I had a flat tyre, where was I ? Good question. I gave him as best directions as I could telling him the name of the nearest hamlet and that I was between two larger villages. No problem someone will come within 30 minutes.
I couldn't decide whether to be impressed that he hadn't needed to have the breton place names spelt out or worried, I opted for an optimistic attitude and sat and waited. 1 hours later I began to wonder if I shouldn't have chosen option B and opted for worried, never mind, here I was on a gloriously hot day with all the time in the world to spare, so I gainfully occupied myself collecting great big fat chestnuts and broken branches for the fire. Another hour passed and I had a phone call from the garage, where was I ? Ah , they had sent him to a large town a good 45 minutes from where I was, and I was as it turned out was only 10 minutes from his garage. I waited some more. An hour later he arrived. Meanwhile I sat by the side of the road looking like an old peasant arms full of wood, scruffy jumper, unbrushed hair and pockets bulging with chestnuts catching a few of the suns rays.
Nice young man arrived in his smart tow truck and gave me a pitying look , you know that look, its the , the stupid woman can't even change a tyre look, I smiled back. Then spent over an hour watching him trying to get my very flat tyre off my car which he finally succeeded in doing with the rather unorthodox help of a lump of wood and a hammer. You shouldn't be driving this car he said, it isn't safe he said, your thingywotsit is likely to go at any moment, you need to take it to the nearest garage at once and get it fixed. OK so patently it wasnt the thingywotsit but I have no idea what the english word for it is and Id be surprised if you would be interested to know or, for that matter ever have a need to know the french name of the thing that lets the steering wheel move the tyres in what ever direction you want them to move. I drove tentatively home, as by now it was well into the 2 hour french lunch hour so no one would be open and is the reason that young man did not offer to tow me as he was obviously en route home for his lunch and didn't want his meal getting cold dealing with mad Englishwomen with dodgy thingywotsits.
Having allowed due time for them to eat their lunch and have a little digestive to let the food settle I called the garage to make an appointment to have a new spare tyre fitted and get the thingywotsit done.
The Tyre was no problem the thingwotsit would take 5 days to order, when he changed the tyre the man at the garage told me I really must not drive the car under any circumstances he didn't however come up with any alternatives. In the middle of nowhere which I call home you cant survive without a working thingywotsit or a spare car or failing that kind neighbours, my neighbours car was off the road so I just had to wing it, drive carefully and pray very hard. I managed all that quiet well until I had to collect eldest from Uni on the Shad aturday. I sorted out trains and busses which would get her to the nearest small town to which I felt safe enough to limp in my hazardous vehicle only for her to discover that despite the timetable saying the contrary buses do not run on Saturday. No choice then either she phoned her father to ask for a lift or I risked my thingywotsit snapping like knicker elastic and went and get her. She burst into tears at the first suggestion so knicker elastic it was. It was the longest 45 minutes in my life, no not true, the return journey was worse as I was desperate not to crash the car and kill us both. We got home, we sighed a big sigh of relief and we eventually got the car fixed.
Today has been equally eventful and a tiny bit stressful. We have been fattening a turkey up for Christmas, this morning I found it all forlorn and lying face down in the mud. I scooped it up trotted over to the neighbours with it for some advice followed by my cohort of boys and dogs. The advice was kill and do no eat it. My young neighbour volunteered to do the deed but I know he hates poultry, well not hates but is scared stiff of them, somewhat of a draw back for someone who works in agriculture, so I declined his noble offer and went home to do the deed myself. I should have sharpened the axe first. Not pleasant and not easy but it had to be done. There was no blood. I suspect thing died of shock before I even stretched its thin wight neck out on the block.
We assigned the poor departed thing to a bin bag and went and deposited it in the municipal bins and then cheered ourselves up by collecting yet more chestnuts. We may not have a home grown turkey for Christmas but we will have masses of home made chestnut stuffing!!
Later we cut down the willow and dug a semi circular ditch to plant willow whips in, we have great plans to make a willow arbor by the pond. Whilst we were at it we trimmed off the lower branches of the fir tree so we can at last again see the well which has gradually become hidden by pine branches. Middle is a whizz with the chainsaw, he scares me rigid. We dragged the willow branches over to our chosen spot and started to plant them, then we attempted to tie them together at the top to form a dome, then we went and got the ladder to have another go, then the wretched thing collapsed and we went in and had tea. What we really needed was a strong pair of helping hands but hey ho you can't have everything so we'll try again another day when time is less pressing and we feel less harassed. The water Butt is now stuffed full of willow branches waiting patiently for us to get our second wind and start again.
So all in all we have had, of late, a busy time and have learnt several valuable lessons the biggest being that it is amazing what we can achieve when we have too and that lack of immediate success does not necessarily mean inevitable failure. That goes for Turkey killing and willow arbors alike. Sometimes all it takes is to put on a brave face and carry on and sometimes we could all do with the occasional offer of a little help from our friends even if we choose not to take them up on it.
Life may not always be easy but that doesn't mean we have to accept bad luck when it happens and give in to it, somewhere as long as you look for it there is always a bright side an upside, a good egg to be found among the bad. The art is, as I am learning, to search for the little rays of sunshine in life and enjoy them when I can, even if beheading a turkey isn't one of them!!