Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Greengage Summer.

     It's time I reread The Greengage Summer, a novel that, for me, captures the feeling of summer in France more than any other: its small-town life, its hotels, its modest restaurants with their strings of coloured lights in the trees, its heat and lassitude. Written in 1958 by English author, Rumer Godden, this poignant coming-of-age story was made into a movie sometime in the 60s. Anyone see it?
    Of the fruit--here known as "reines claudes"-- Godden wrote: "The greengages had a pale-blue bloom, especially in the shade, but in the sun the flesh showed amber through the clear-green skin; if it were cracked the juice was doubly warm and sweet."
     This afternoon, down at the café, it's 38 degrees in the shade. In the sun, it's so hot that windfall greengages have turned purple-black and literally cooked in their skins. They taste of compote, almost jammy. Some have already fermented, creating a pleasant boozy smell under the trees. I wonder if the birds and wasps that are feasting on them are getting a little tipsy?
    Friends had invited me to go and pick what I wanted from the branches that are almost bow to the ground with the weight of the fruit. Here's what I brought back. Some we'll eat fresh with our morning yogurt. Most will be frozen until the days get cooler. No jam-making when it's as hot as this.

     Our terrace faces north, so most of it is in the shade much of the day. You feel an abrupt temperature change when you step from the boiling hot garden into the shade. Lovely. The house is even cooler. As soon as the sun starts to sink, you feel the mercury falling. Mornings are cool, dew on the grass, and a great scented blast of honeysuckle greets me when I open the back door.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

So nice to read your writing again. Lovely. But the Rumer Godden reference, wow. I loved her as a kid and was thinking of reacquainting myself. Now I know where to begin. Thank you.