Wild flowers : along the byways

Along the byways
lined with dancing grasses
and waving wild flowers
sweet evenings walking.

Wild oat.Golden jewels dangle daintily
a tantalising wild oat beauty.

Ox-eye daisyIn wide eyed curiosity
between snowhite whorls
a bright oxeye watches.


Tassel hyacinth
jubilant and joyful greetings
she gives.

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River Dropt (“dro”) : Timeless tales

Silver screen of images
timeless tales he tells
lazily he wanders
through field and forest vale.

Capturing in his vision
castles, farms and mills
wheat and hemp fields, orchards
flat boats heavy burdened.

Children swimming
women washing
fishermen fishing.

Silver screen of images
timeless tales he tells
lazily he wanders
through field and forest vale.

A little geography.

The river Dropt springs in Capdrot, Perigord, and slowly flows through Guyenne, and L’ Entre Deux Mers. It drifts past unchanged landscapes, medieval towns, and farms. Many watermills along its path have utilised its  force to mill grain to flour. It regularly breaks its banks, and floods across the plains of the Dropt valley. This curse is also its blessing, as the tides of modernity, and construction are held back. No roads run alongside. Bastide (walled, fortified) towns overlook, and bridge its waters. It was once used to transport goods to the port at Caudrot near La Reole, which were then loaded onto larger boats travelling down the Garonne to Bordeaux. When river transport was replaced by road, the Dropt became a forgotten river, save for the fishermen and locals delighting.

Monségur market.

It’s market day in Monségur, “On y va!” (“Let’s go!”)

Add to the shopping list- local honey, grapejuice, pruneaux d'Agen and the first strawberries of the season.
Add to the shopping list- local honey, grapejuice, pruneaux d’Agen and the first strawberries of the season.
Melons and Asparagus.
Melons and asparagus.
Fish from Archachon, west coast.
Fish from Archachon, west coast.
Queue up for croissants and bread.
Queue up for croissants and bread.
Saucisson of all kinds.
Saucisson of all kinds.
Red, orange and purple Marmande tomatoes.
Red, orange and purple Marmande tomatoes.
 Goats cheese and don't forget a bottle of red wine.
Goats cheese and a bottle of red wine.
Sweet nougat.
Sweet nougat.
Flowers for a bright table.
Flowers for a bright table.
No window ledge is complete without a Geranium or two.
No window ledge is complete without a Geranium or two
Young plants to put in the vegetable garden.
Young plants to put in the vegetable garden.
Let's relax for five with a cup of coffee..
Let’s relax for five with a cup of coffee..
..and watch the world go by, at Monségur market.
..and watch the world go by, at Monségur market.

Bee swarms of May.

The telephone rings, I pick up, “Hello.”
“Bonjour, this is Monsieur Gillet, is Jean-Michel there?”
” Not at the moment, but he’ll be home soon.”
“Will you ask him to call me. There is a bee swarm in my neighbours garden.”
“I will, Salut Monsieur Gillet.”.

Jean-Michel calls him when he arrives, to know more about the bee situation. The most important question being exactly where the swarm is, high or low. He’s pleased to hear that the bees are huddled very low, almost next to the ground, on a shrub. He says he’ll be there very soon.

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We gather the equipment we need, a carrying hive, beesuit, gloves, smoker, pruners, small sweeping brush. I take my essential, a camera.

Uncomplicated moments take place on site. Suit and gloves on. Jean-Michel places the unlidded hive with one of three wax frames removed, as close to the swarm as possible on the ground. There’s no need to use the smoker this time. So he prunes away one branch to clear his way, then using his brush and a hand he takes a handful of bees from the centre of the swarm hoping that the queen is amongst them, and places them into the hive. This is a tricky moment. Even though the queen is large she is so protected by the workers that it’s impossible to find her. If he loses her the whole swarm will likely fly away.

The swarm get agitated at this point. Bees start flying in larger and larger circles looking for an enemy. I’ve been clicking away with the camera but I begin to feel uncomfortable, so I back off and put a few metres between myself and the swarm.

Jean-Michel is happy, he has swept a good number of bees down towards the entrance and it looks to him as though the queen is in the hive. The workers are entering, and the guards are on the platform with their stingers in the air, a sure sign they’ve someone inside to protect. He replaces the removed frame  into the hive. He has prepared three frames that support a thin leaf of wax and this helps them to adopt the place. He puts the lid on. After watching for a few minutes we leave the site until the following day. While we’re gone the bees will install themselves in the hive, already busy molding the wax on the frames into combs for the queens young. These first hours are the most productive in the new hives lifetime.

Tomorrow Jean-Michel will introduce them to their permanent home, a brand new freshly painted, lilac hive in our garden.

A queen is ejected from her hive by a new queen, and a part of the workers follow her.
A queen is ejected from her hive by a new queen, and a part of the workers follow her.
The queen is protected and kept warm in the centre of the cone.
The queen is protected and kept warm in the centre of the cone.

“I know that I know nothing.”

Mysteriously something was wrong for the bees, they did not like our carrying hive, and when we returned the next day they had left. We will dwell on why, but never know. Better luck next time.

PS The true story written, and the photographs shown are of separate moments, but brought together for this post.