October may be my favorite month of the year. This particular one is the most sublime in my memory. Of course the change in the natural world, the foliage turning colors, the bird population coming and going, and the quality of light are the things which make it special, but in addition, the weather this month has been absolutely perfect.
Because our responsibilities have eased a little, there is more time for walking and enjoying the beauty of the natural world around us.
Since seeing Alice Fox's amazing eco-printing work, I have been inspired to do some experimenting of my own, The forest this time of year offers a rich harvest of leaves and plants. Both living and dry leaves give up color when they are bundled up and steamed in the eco-dyeing process.
Last week our friend Renata invited us to have lunch with her in Alençon and afterwards take a walk in her local forest in search of seasonal wild mushrooms. She is an expert on the subject.
The day was fine and the forest was radiant in the fall sunlight, the forest floor was carpeted in dry red leaves.
Mushrooms grow in profusion in the forest near Renata's house at this time of year. This week it was mostly chanterelles which were available. They are small and not easily spotted, but Renata knows where to look for them. Rick followed her with his own basket and was able to collect enough for a few large meals. I spent my time gathering leaves and enjoying the play of light through the trees.
On Sunday we went to Redon to a double birthday party for our dear friends Françoise and Bernard. We have known them since 1999, when James lived with them in Brittany during his junior year of high school.
There was a large enthusiastic crowd. We were treated to a slide show of their lives together. They have known each other since they were children. They both turned 70 this month. We are friends with their three daughters and their families as well. They have 7 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. All of them were there, along with many other relatives and friends. It was a pleasant day and a very sweet event. As often happens in France, the party carried on into the next day. We were invited to Françoise and Bernard's house for brunch.
Redon is about a three hour drive from Montmirail, so we don't see the family nearly often enough, but all of us do try to keep in touch. There is something very special for us in our connection to this family.