07 February 2008

Foggy February mornings

I know February can be cold in France, but our experience of the year's second month here in Saint-Aignan has been positive overall. Yes, we did have 10 days of snow and cold at the end of Februrary and the beginning of March in 2006. But that itself had its beauty.

Our neighbors' gloriette, a kind of gazebo,
in the morning sun and fog

Other months of February since 2004 have been fairly moderate. The days really start getting longer, and there's a feeling that spring is just around the corner after the gloom, fog, and rain of December and January.

07 February 2008

When there's fog in February in Saint-Aignan, it's just morning fog. It doesn't last all day, or for days or weeks at a time, the way it does in December. January isn't as foggy, but it's much rainier.

07 February 2008

Starting the day by watching the sun rise makes all the difference. One of the things I didn't like about the weather in San Francisco, and even down in the warmer Silicon Valley, was that so many mornings started off gray. You didn't see the sun come up. If you were lucky, you saw sun by noontime. But you started the day with that heavy feeling that gray skies cast over everything. Not even strong coffee can really perk you up.

07 February 2008

The sun looks so much bigger when it first comes up over the horizon. It's the same for the moon. I know there's a scientific explanation for that, having to do with the refraction of light and viewing the celestial bodies through a thicker layer of atmosphere than when they are right overhead. But it doesn't matter. It's a shame not to be able to see the big morning sun. Of course, you have to get up early. Well, not so much in winter, when sunrise in Saint-Aignan is between 8:30 and 9:00.

07 February 2008

Morning sun through a light fog produces a soft, kind light. There are shadows, but just barely. Mostly, there are surfaces and edges that catch the light just right and really show it off. I think sunrise is my favorite time to be out in the vineyard.

07 February 2008

Spiders must like nighttime in the vineyard, because that's when they build their webs. And then the dewdrops and the early morning light reveal them to lens and eye. I bet the spider would prefer they remain invisible, the better to surprise flying insects.


Evelyn said...

Those spiders aren't dumb- they know lots of insects are out at night. When I had to do an insect collection in high school, I rigged up a light bulb outside my bedroom window and captured lots of moths and other creatures.

I love your photos today, there's something magical about sunlight piercing the fog. What is the earliest sunrise there? On the summer solstice the sun rises at 5:36 am or there abouts.

chm said...

Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. In some cases almost monochromatic. They're works of art.

Ken Broadhurst said...

CHM, a lot of the credit for my pictures has to go to being in the right place at the right time. I aim the camera and hope for the best. Digital photography is wonderful.

Evelyn, according to this site, in Paris the sun will rise at 5:45 a.m. from June 10 until June 22. That's the earliest sunrise of the year, I think. We are a lot farther north than Atlanta, for example. Our days in winter are much shorter and our days in summer are much longer. Notice that the sun sets about 10:00 p.m. in Paris in June.

Cheryl said...

Interesting to read your post this morning. This is by far the foggiest morning we've had here in Silicon Valley in a very long time. Too bad I don't have a vineyard to go walking in.

purejuice said...

i've been reading peasant memoirs for a project, and in one of them, the english poet john clare, he corroborates the tradition in english that the french peasant memoirs have -- of winter being the time of all night work parties (spinning, shelling nuts, whatever), of gathering round the fire, and especially, of telling fairy tales and ghost/horror stories.
these pictures remind me of how easy it would be to believe in fairies and unicorns and good magic creatures.
thank you.

wcs said...

I just looked up the sun info for our St. Aignan on June 21, 2008:

Sunrise: 05h58
Sunset: 21h54

Of course, that's official set/rise info and doesn't include twilight.

Claudia in Toronto said...

This is a fantastic view of a world I never see. Thank you!

susan said...

We're at 1,000 feet elevation on the other side of the SF Bay from Cheryl and it was bright and sunny when I left the house at 9 this morning. So bright, in fact, that I gave in to temptation and put the top down on my car. By the time I got down to 700 feet the sun was dimming. At 400 feet, it was gone. At my office, at sea level, the parking lot was so fogged in I could barely see the lines between spaces. At least the morning started off in a burst of sunshine!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, magical pictures. Thank you. The gloriette is like a wisp of Victoriana, a window into another time--I would expect to see young ladies in mid-18th century dress flitting through.

Betty C. said...

Beautiful, ethereal photos. They almost make me like February...almost...

Evelyn said...

You are a LOT further North than Atlanta, for sure! In Louisville we had longer winter nights and wonderful long summer days. Louisville is due North of Birmingham, yet it is on EST.

I really love long summer days still and that is one reason that I enjoy being in France in June or July or August;-) May is also excellent.

blueVicar said...


Those photos are just fantastic. The light, the fog, the reflections...terrific.

Meilleurs voeux!!