When I lived in London I measured the passing seasons in terms of bare legs or winter boots and whether or not to wear a coat. Here, the markers are more elemental and I am much more aware of the passage of time.
Walking through the countryside on Sunday afternoon, it's clear that the curtain has dropped on summer. The once smiling sunflowers have had their heads brutally chopped off, and the long-armed irrigators that sent huge arcs of water soaring over the crops during the summer now lie still. The sounds too have changed: the buzz of insects has been replaced by the soft thud of acorns falling to the ground ....and gun shots on the distant horizon.
La chasse is back.
This is why I am wearing a fluroescent pink hoodie. I do not want to be mistaken for un sanglier [wild boar] and end up with a bullet in my derriere - as allegedly happened to 'a friend of a friend of a friend' [I am still not sure if the story is true.]
But my bold-coloured top causes quite a stir in the French countryside. Rounding a field of tall beets, I find myself face-to-face with a herd of cows, exactly the same colour tan as a Prada handbag I once owned. And suddenly twenty pairs of bovine eyes stare at me aghast. Their jaws stop chewing the cud and fall, metaphorically, to the floor. It's very unnerving but I manage a cheery ‘bonjour les vaches’ as I walk by, a blur of retina-searing pink to eyes more used to a gentle green landscape.
The cows continue to stare. Two young calves trot towards the fence to get a better look. I can almost hear them saying to each other: ‘what is she wearing?’ These cows, I suspect from their stunned expressions, have never seen anything quite like my Urban Outfitters top before.