Sunday on the cusp of August in the countryside should be long, should feel endless. At midi, noon in France, a stillness sets in that is both awesome, in the classical sense of the sun’s strict justice, and dauntingly hot. You will be trying to name that song the cicadas keep spinning — drone, chant — and might fall into an inspired trance. There are flies on your ankles and the slow swirling scent of the time or its demise, of memories you’ve had or never had, of something tantalizing—
Just over there, beyond the dry field or on Monday, is spanking new blacktop that replaces graceful tree-lined roads once for horses, tractors and speeding Sunday-lunch drunkards. There is an epidemic of pregnant roundabouts that keeps giving birth to more and more roundabouts. The voices of trees that we come to hear every year are frailer and frailer. They check on us too – as nature looks in on us wayward, unplanted humans.
Eyeballing shrubs in a new peach orchards I count neary 500, maybe 1000, planted with geometric precision, rays of sun splaying from all perspectives, an earthy Versailles. Everywhere, but especially in France, in a sleight of hand, nature always a part of culture. We salute the wary rapport with a nod towards timelessness, with or without us.