So far this November we've been blessed with temperatures in the high twenties, which I'd usually associate with early summer or early autumn. We did have snow on Canigou once in September and once again last month but, as usual, it quickly melted. It's all change now, however, and I think yesterday's powdering up there - third time lucky? - will probably stick, at least on the highest peaks.
Although strong winds and cooler air had been forecast for this weekend, 6°C was still a shock to my system on this morning's walk. It's lunchtime as I write this, and the temperature has crept up to 14° but it feels colder in that tramontane. In a way the change is welcome: it's good to have seasons. And should put an end to this year's tiger mosquitoes, which were still biting a couple of days ago!
I'd been tracking the jingle of bells from a hunting dog somewhere among the vines, but hadn't found its owner until I spotted cigarette smoke trailing out of the open door of a car parked by the track ahead. I was probably fifty yards or so away when the man emerged, turned in my direction, raised his shotgun skywards, panning above me and to my left, and fired once. I turned but didn't see anything fall to earth. When I reached him he was perfectly pleasant, as I expected. I asked if he'd got it. Non. Too far away, he said. I asked what it was.
Une grive. A thrush.
"There's nothing about," he added glumly.
The bitter wind made me pull my scarf tighter as I wished him "Bon dimanche" and walked on, feeling glum too; silently lamenting that he - along with so many people worldwide - can blast any creature to oblivion for the sheer thrill of it, and can see nothing wrong with that. Hopefully today's thrush will make it through to the spring, when it can thrill me - and others - with its uplifting, beautiful song. A song that seems to celebrate life itself.