Monday, January 14, 2008

Il pleut

By common agreement among the expat community the Luberon is enduring the worst weather in a decade. In a region of extreme conditions this is quite a statement. What’s more there have been no electrical storms, no reports of the mistral gusting above the usual 30kmh (at which point things get interesting) and no return of the blizzards which three years ago according to our landlord made it impossible to reach the end of the drive yet alone the village. Instead the problem is slate grey skies and a very English drizzle. It’s been going on for weeks and as I said for the expats it is a bit too much like being at home. But the locals, the locals they love it. They really honestly couldn’t be more delighted.

The moment I raise the topic of how bad the weather has been their eyes narrow. If I was a 50 year old man who had just announced he intended to elope with their teenage daughter they couldn’t look more disgusted with me.

“What do I mean the weather’s bad?”

“Well, the rain, the rain,” I moan.

“ah but the land needs the rain,” they reply as if I am some sort of dimwit who doesn’t understand the principles of evaporation and precipitation.

“but 10 days of rain,” I persist, “why can’t we just have a good storm.”

They shake their head as if they have never met anyone so stupid.

“The rain is good rain,” they patiently explain.

By now we are both absolutely drenched, and I am feeling more and more miserable but I get the feeling that given the opportunity my local interrogator would be dancing around with the glee of a French Gene Kelly twirling his umbrella.

Anyway here is the theory of why we should all like the rain - the Luberon rarely has good rain. Usually when the heavens open, it comes down in a cascade, flows of the rock-hard earth, causes a minor flood in the village and then drains straight into the river, meaning the soil barely has a chance to absorb any moisture. 2007 was full of dry hot spells and the odd “bad” rain day and as a result the vines and the olive trees were constantly in danger of withering up.

So despite the fact that we can’t go outside Tanya, Elodie and I are learning to smile, look out the window, and say, “oh good, more drizzle.”