20 October 2008

The dark days are near

That sounds ominous, doesn't it? At this time of year, the sun is already very low in the southern sky. And it rises later and later. At 8:00, the hour when we have gotten used to going out with the dog, it's still dark. The sun rises in the southeast now, not summer's northeast, and not before 8:30 a.m.

Saturday morning's sunrise, about 8:30 a.m.

The morning light is dim until after nine o'clock. At least it hasn't been too cold yet. There was a light frost up top, far out in the vineyard, Saturday morning. I didn't go out yesterday morning, but it was even colder Sunday than Saturday. Walt was looking at weather records for the region and saw that 10 years ago it was already in the lower 20s F in late October.

Fall in the vineyard

I noticed today that Monsieur Guerrier has now harvested a whole plot of white grapes that were still on the vine Saturday morning. My guess is that they'll be used to make a late-harvest, sweet wine. That's what's called a demi-sec or a moelleux wine here. They are only made in good years, when the fall weather stays fairly dry late well into October.

Unharvested grapes left on a parcel
of untended vines this year

In two months, it will officially be winter and the shortest days of the year will be upon us. Already yesterday, the temperature in the house was at about 60ºF (16ºC) even after the sun was well up in the sky. Walt built a fire in the wood stove. The sun is just not hot enough now to warm us up in the afternoon.

Looking out over the top of the vineyard

Besides, we are having trouble with our central heating system. The boiler fires up normally, but the pump, which sends hot water or steam to the radiators all over the house, isn't working. This happened before, two or three years ago, and we had a repair done then. I just called the company that does boiler maintenance, and they are sending a man out this afternoon.

Long shadows on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. in the back yard

Today I'm cooking a wintertime dish: Gratin d'endives au jambon. That's Belgian endives and ham cooked in a cheese sauce in the oven. I just searched the blog and realized that I've never posted the recipe before. I'll go make it now and take some pictures.

Then there's more yard work to do. It's supposed to rain tonight and maybe tomorrow, so today is a day to finish up some jobs out there.


  1. I love this time of year, mainly because of the photo opportunities it gives.

    I do enjoy getting out of bed late, having breakfast, then going out to take photos of sunrise.

    A lot more civilised than trying the same thing is summer!

  2. That picture of the unharvested grapes is spectacular. Your landscape photos especially are so beautiful--I'll bet you could turn them into something like calendars (work) or notecards (not so much work), sell them and make maybe even enough to offset the dollar decline.

    Well, maybe not that much. But think about it.

  3. Simon, you are right, sunrise pictures are easier in October. In November, after we've set the clocks back, it gets more difficult again. Have to get up earlier.

    Thanks, Emm. If I could find somebody to do all the publishing work for me, I'd be willing. I'd have time right now fitting extra work into my busy schedule!


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