It was a rare moment – Monday morning walking barefoot in the grass – a luxuriant green carpet – the delicious feeling of dew fresh blades tingling between my toes – also a slight pang of guilt as I wander round the sweet smelling spring garden whilst the rest of the world is at work, slaving away in their offices, shops and factories. Let them slave. I need this moment to drive away the last vestiges of winter blues. This is a time for renewal. Somehow I can feel the earth’s energy rise within me. It’s is rare for me to be in such vital sensorial skin contact with nature.
Don’t worry, this isn’t my normal Monday morning wont, I too am normally « slaving away », today though, I have taken a bridging day- or as the French say « Je fais le pont » – a common Gallic practice whereby weary workers take a day of their official annual leave to « bridge » a gap between two public holidays – and May is full of public holidays.
In Britain it is the May Bank Holiday, and listening to the BBC this morning, there have been the usual « business types » on the morning news programme lamenting the number of public holidays in the UK. From their dismal discourse it would seem that public holidays are responsible in part for the UK’s economic wrack and ruin.
What would those economic experts make of the French scenario – in France, May is nothing but public holidays. Starting with May Day itself – workers’ playtime, there are then three other public holidays. On May 8th we all get the day off to celebrate or remember the end of World War Two in Europe. Following this we have Ascension Day and then the Whitsun Bank Holiday.
In France though, you get the holiday on the day it falls, meaning that if the specific day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then you lose out. Thankfully this year, May 8th is a Wednesday. Ascension Day is on Thursday May 9th and May 1st also feel on a Wednesday. May is also the month when French workers have to use up any spare leave that they may not have taken, for the simple reason that annual holiday allowance for all workers runs from May to May. Workers who have not used up their untaken leave by May 31st quite simply lose it. I guess you can imagine the scenario. Half empty work places – especially this week – Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th are public holidays. Many workers (myself included) have taken the Monday and Tuesday off – many employers (mine included) have graciously given their workers the Friday off as well – a whole week off for only two days of leave taken.
Needless to say, when French workers study the calendar wondering when to take their holidays, the first month they turn to is May. When public holidays fall midweek it’s possible to get early a fortnight off by only taking four or five days out of one’s annual leave. Many workers deliberately save up days – taking less time off at Christmas or in the summer, sot hey can benefit from a long may break, and if the weather is as glorious as this morning …
Back in the garden, everything is literally « blooming » lovely. The Wisteria is in full flow, The lilac bushes are heavy with their intoxicating white and pink flowers, and gazing at the strawberry, it is a sea of white flowers – should get a good crop this year.
I feel not the slightest qualm of guilt in my barefoot meanderings – it is actually very rare that I enjoy such moments up the garden path – I seem to spend more time in the garden working than I do relaxing. This mad barefoot brevity therefore is simply me, enjoying the fruits of my hard weekend labour. For sure there shall be more barefoot moments. The weather forecasters have predicted a glorious spring week.
Anyway, to give you all a « blooming » good start to the week – a few garden clichés.