Sunday, 7 August 2011

Nesting in 'An Old Cognac Farm!'

The view from my 'Empty Nest' changed recently, when my husband and I were invited to house sit an 'Old Cognac Farm' in the southwest of France for the winter.  Yes, I hear you say 'Nesting in such a beautiful spot would be idyllic in the summer, but the winter?'  Well what an adventure it turned out to be. To say it was like taking a step into the pages of 'National Geographic,' is the only way I can describe our close encounter with nature, in the form of both weather and wild life.

The farm itself is set in about three acres of land, on which there are three renovated holliday homes and two swimming pools.  All of the afore-mentioned, were closed up for the winter of course, as our good friends the owners set off travelling in warmer parts, leaving my husband and I as caretakers in this massive house.

I could describe to you, 'Spectacular thunder storms. The beauty of coming face to face with an injured Barn Owl. Chopping wood in minus fourteen degrees to keep warm and icicle-laden branches petrified in the snow covered landscape,' but no, I just want to describe to you one perfect afternoon, a few weeks after Christmas, when all the family that had landed in the nest for Christmas had flown again!

I am sitting in a wooden rocking-chair in the huge old beamed kitchen. Outside the afternoon sunshine is beginning to fade and the room is filled with a pale pinkish light, as the sun begins to sink in the sky. At my feet sleeps Murphy, my little West Highland Terrier never far from my side; we both doze in the flickering light of a huge woodburning stove, the only noise the crackling of burning wood, as the flames lick hungrily against the glass. 

West Highland TerrierImage via WikipediaThe book on my lap falls to the floor, disturbing our slumber and I lie back in the chair, as my eyes adapt to the  mellowing light in this most peaceful of places.  Getting up from the chair I throw on my old jacket and call to Murphy.  Pulling open the kitchen door we step out into the fading light, pulling it behind us.  Murphy runs ahead of me, exploring the freedom of our own land, as we head on to the track, that leads upwards to the 'Edge of the world'.

Just my trusted friend and I in silent communion.  The track leads upwards towards the dusky skyline and our walk lasts just five minutes, before we approach the old stone cross that stands at the end of our track. It marks 'Santiago de Compostela' the ancient pilgrims' route to Spain, but for us it marks the 'edge of the world', because at this point the land drops away almost 360 degrees on every side, down to the valley below.

We sit together in this heavenly place bathed in the light of the setting sun. Pulling out my camera I take a little video of my companion, preserving this almost spiritual moment, to relive later when we have to say goodbye to the beautiful Cognac farm, so close to the 'edge of the world'.

Recently back in my 'Empty Nest' here in Ireland, Murphy passed away last Christmas.  I returned to the computer today, in order to escape the grey damp weather and meet with my trusted friend Murphy again at the 'edge of the world';  somehow, sadly, the image had been lost from the computer, but the memory of that perfect afternoon will last forever.