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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.