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Monday, July 17, 2017

I am hiking again! And back on Sparkpeople! Forgive me for being MIA for so long... A mixture of having a lot to do with decorating my little house and trying to do something with my garden... whilst still struggling with grief at times and missing my mother very much. It was 4 months yesterday that she died, but it sometimes feels like it was just yesterday.

Yet I realise now it is precisely because of all this stress that I need my hikes so much – and that I miss all the wonderful support I get here on Sparkpeople!

Yesterday for my first hike in almost 2 months (the last one was in Argentina!), I went only about 15 minutes away from home, North-West of Paris, starting in a little village called Villiers-Adam. The picture above was the very beginning of my hike... I knew it would be lovely!

And really it was all I could hope for. The French countryside was gorgeous, with the fields ready for harvest... Oats...



dry canola fields...

... and even the sugar beets with their big beautiful leaves (no no really, it IS sugar beets in the background, but I agree I took the picture for the poppies, I love them and so does my dear friend HOLLYM48!!!).

This moment mid-summer is always the most beautiful in my opinion around here... there is so much to see (although I do love spring too!)...

(Can you see the tractor on its way to the fields? probably the wheat fields as they are really ready for harvest!)

It really is a year for oregano! I had never seen so much by the path, everywhere...

And butterfly bushes (buddleia)... Ahhhh... this is such a problem for me! It was recommended to me as an easy bush to cultivate in my garden, so I bought one (still in its big pot, ready to be planted in the autumn... mine is white).

But since then I have discovered it is an invasive plant, it was even banned from several states in the USA and areas of Canada apparently. Try and type ‘butterfly bush invasive’ on Google and you’ll see the huge list of websites talking about it. This thing is awful. So I am not sure what to do with mine. :( Any advice, dear gardening Sparkfriends? (Edit: I should add that my worry really is for the French environment, not for my garden... so thank you to all those of you who highlighted that I should remove the flowers before there are seeds! Very useful!)

There were also lots and lots of blooming blackberries-to-be! Hmmm this looks good for the next few weeks! I might come back here with a container to pick some.

After all these long weeks without a hike I realised, as I happily discovered these paths, new to me, how I had forgotten the many pleasures that come with a hike – the feeling of the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, the smells, the birds singing, the different paths either smooth (can you say that for a path?) or difficult, with many rocks...

You even encounter some strange looking buildings in the middle of nowhere at times! I wonder what these were originally?

And of course, there were flowers everywhere! Of all kinds and colours!

Half way through my hike, I reached the village of Béthemont-la-forêt (450 inhabitants)...

... and saw its farm in the distance...

But I only took a couple of streets in the village and didn’t see anybody! It was lunch time after all!

After I left Béthemont-la-forêt, I crossed some woods (it is the Northern part of the Montmorency forest... I live right on the other side, on the Southern part)...

It was beautiful with all the ferns!

Then suddenly in the near silence of the woods, I heard the sound of a horse approaching... fast! I waited patiently on the side of the path!

As the friendly horseman explained to me afterwards, having seen me, he slowed down considerably, he didn’t expect to see anybody! – Indeed, I hardly met anybody apart from him and a couple of cyclists further away in my hike!

As I was about to leave the woods, I passed by the cemetery, and reached the fields again...

But the path I was on hadn’t been ‘cleaned’ for a few weeks or even months, and the nettles had taken over! They were way taller than me (I am 6ft!) and they were quite painful. I had to find a solution!

Luckily, I was able to walk through the fields – never comfortable, but way more comfortable than the nettles (and thank goodness, the corns were much smaller here than elsewhere!)!

Until finally I was able to join the path again...

... and saw the roof of Villiers-Adam’s church appear in the distance! (Can you see it on the left of the tree?)

A bit later, I walked through the square outside the town hall, which was decorated with flags as the previous day was Bastille Day!

Thank you so much for joining me on my 3-hour hike! I hope you enjoyed it... Watch this space, I am here to stay now. :) Thank you also again to all those of you who sent me little notes or wrote on my page these last few weeks and days, it was a big encouragement to me!

Have a great week! Keep sparking!

P.S. Some of you are asking me how the decorating is going in my little house... Here is the result of my latest project, my office/guest room, with the bright Berber rug I inherited from my mother (it was made to celebrate her birth, back in 1933... there is the date on it!). The black and white pictures I took 30 years ago... these children are now married and one just had a child!

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