The smudge pots in the vineyard near our house were burning at 2:30 a.m. but they seem to have gone out now. Our temperature this morning is just slightly higher than it was yesterday this morning — still just a few degrees above freezing. The afternoons are sunny and pleasant, though.
The house creates its own little heat bubble. Just a few steps away, out in the back yard, it's colder early in the morning. Walt just told me that he noticed yesterday that the leaves on our little fig tree have frozen and shriveled up. We'll just have to wait and see if it will recover. Same for the apple trees.
The greenhouse so far is proving to be a major improvement. It really dresses up the back of the house, and it's useful as well. It has stayed warm inside, and you can really feel the difference when you come back from a walk out in the cold. In these photos, you can see a wisteria, a lilac bush, and a stand of lavender that we've planted over the past 10 years.
Our house is a really typical 20th century French house. It's called a pavillon sur sous-sol — a pavillon is a small, single-family house, usually surrounded by a yard, and a sous-sol is a basement. In this case, and often, the basement is not actually below ground level. Our sous-sol has lower ceilings than the floor above it (which is the main living area, with kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) and is made up of a big garage, a cold pantry (un cellier), a utility room, a small front porch, and an entry hall with stairs up to the main level. And now a greenhouse.
A few years ago, when we had a mid-April freeze like the current one, we didn't get any apples at all. Also, the local grape harvest was reduced by about 30%, according to reports. People here like to tell us how they got 6 inches of snow one year back in the '70s or '80s on about May 10. So there's nothing unusual about this weather. April being cruel and all...