09 March 2008

Status report: spring

Stormy weather. That's today's forecast. Wind gusts could hit 80 mph/130 kph close to the coast, and 60 mph/90 kph here in Saint-Aignan. The noise of the wind woke me up at 6:30 this morning. I haven't yet looked outside to see if it's raining.

The season's first tulip (at least chez nous)

Blogger and Blogspot are experiencing some kind of disturbance too, like our weather. This morning I can get one picture at a time to upload — normally, I can upload five at a time. The only information on the Blogger status page dates from Saturday. It says that Blogger, Blogspot, or both were either very slow, operating only partially, or down at that point. Maybe the situation will improve with the beginning of the new work week.

Big fat buds on the lilac bush we planted in 1986.
Looks like it made it though another winter.

Meanwhile, here are some photos to give you an idea where we stand in terms of the arrival of springtime. The weather hasn't been cold the past few days, just chilly. And wet. But yesterday, for example, after two or three hours of steady, sometimes hard rain, the sun came out in the middle of the afternoon. It was breezy and bright.

Flowers on a rosemary bush that I planted in our garden's sunniest,
warmest spot a couple of years ago. The plant is happy there.

I took Callie out for a walk late in the day and took pictures. Not the ones in this post, though, which are from Friday or Saturday. Yesterday I took a lot of cloud pictures. I'll spare you...

Callie out in the back yard, between apple trees and
hazelnut bushes, near the vegetable garden plots.

The yard is full of primroses, but I've already posted a lot of pictures of those. The jonquils are gradually opening up in several spots, depending on how much sun they get, I think. We had some cold days last week that seemed to slow them down.

A jonquil I photographed by holding the camera
at an awkward angle down close to the ground —
I couldn't even see it on the viewfinder screen. I got lucky.

It looks like at least four of the five artichoke plants that we put in last year have made it through the winter. Our friend Gisèle was surprised when she saw them a few weeks ago — evidently all hers froze when it was cold in December. Walt mulched our plants with dead leaves and it worked.

The biggest artichoke plant looks pretty healthy.

Yesterday on our walk Callie and I had three wildlife encounters. A big blue heron flew by right overhead. It was coming from the direction of the river. There must be a lot of toads for herons to eat right now.

And then we saw one of those hawks that hovers on high like a helicopter or humming bird, watching for movement down on the ground. I know what it was looking for. It was that little rust-colored rodent that Callie tried to catch. I saw it run between her legs and then behind her to hide in a patch of tall grass. Callie got confused and couldn't find it again. Silly dog.


  1. Claudia in Toronto10 March, 2008 16:30

    "Status report: two snowstorms in a week."
    I totally forget that grass and flowers truly exist until I look at your land. The jonquil reflects the warmth of the sun. The tulip still has the tears of the dew. And Callie seems to be calling me to join him on the grass. Happy Spring to all of you!

  2. What's the difference between a daffodil and a jonquil?

  3. Hi Gabby, I think jonquil is the term most used in the U.S. Southeast, where I come from. It's also the French term, une jonquille. The word daffodil derives from the Dutch, evidently, and Walt says it's the word he always heard and used when he was growing up in the old Dutch colonies (around Albany, NY).

    Claudia, I don't know if those droplets on the tulip were dew drops or rain drops.

  4. Wet, wet, wet in Waco today. It actually snowed here last Thursday after being in the 70s earlier in the week. It was bad enough in Dallas that DFW airport was closed. Of course, it does not take much snow and ice to shut things down in this part of the country. I am ready for consistent sun so that we can have a regular practice schedule for our 9 yr-old boys baseball team.

    I love the flower pics. We had our first roses bloom this weekend and the pear trees bloomed about one week ago. Other than the weather, it is beginning to look like spring in central Texas.

  5. Your heron is le héron cendré and the little hawk is actually a small falcon - Kestrel in English, Crécerelle in French. The kestrel will be tracking the rodent's urine trail, which it can see because raptors can see some of the light spectrum that is invisible to us, and because rodents, not to put to fine a point on it, dribble all the time.

    In Australia, the big single trumpet narcissi like your pic are daffodils, smaller, multi-flowered stems are jonquils, but taxonomically I don't think there is much difference - they are all Narcissus sp.


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