25 January 2009

Sunshine and daylight

You've probably heard about the big windstorm that swept across southwestern France and northern Spain yesterday. Down there, a lot of trees were uprooted or broken off, power lines are down, and roofs have blown off. Up here in the Loire Valley, 400 to 500 km north of Bordeaux and Toulouse, we were spared. It rained most of the day yesterday, but there was little wind.

Jets fly over daily and on clear days we see them,
but we never hear them

We've had 35 mm of rain over the past week. That's nearly an inch and a half, and the ground is soft and squishy. We had a few hours of strong winds a couple of days ago, and now the yard is covered with branches and twigs that blew out of the apple, linden, and birch trees. One day we'll be able to get back outside and clean all that up. For now, it's too muddy.

On a sunny winter afternoon, flowerpots
remind you of the coming of spring

But we are having some nice days and the weather isn't cold any more. It's all relative, I know. Our lows are in the mid-30s with highs in the upper 40s or low 50s. Between 2º and 12º on the Celsius scale, autrement dit. That's normal for winter here in Saint-Aignan.

I thought my succulents would have frozen,
but they've survived.
I'll soon start re-potting them.

It appears that the bitter cold we had in the first half of January didn't kill as many of our outdoor plants as I was afraid it would. Even plants in pots seem to have survived. I had moved the pots up close to the house on the south and west sides, and I guess that worked.

Now there are days when it positively seems like spring. This morning, for example, skies are clear and the sun is shining. But unless they have changed the forecast since yesterday, rain is supposed to start falling by afternoon.

This is not a green tree. It is a nearly dead apple tree
out back that is being taken down by mistletoe.

The pictures in this post are ones that I took last Wednesday, January 21. You can see it was a nice day. Now, one month after Christmas, the sun comes up a little earlier (but still around 8:30 a.m.) and, best of all, it goes down later, around 6:00 p.m. So all in all, the atmosphere is significantly less gloomy than it was just a short time ago.


  1. wow that is some stand of mistletoe. kiss kiss. and wasn't it also like a druid holy plant?

  2. I'm so glad your plants survived the cold spell and also that you didn't get that terrible wind storm. Great photo of the pots, moss and gravel.


  3. Does the mistletoe die with the tree or does it survive?

  4. CHM, I found one site here (third item on search results page, in French) information that seems to say that mistletoe cannot survive long on a dead tree, and cannot regrow from leaves or stems that might end up on the ground (boutures). Here's a quote:

    "On dira donc que selon nos propres observations, que le gui ne peut pas pousser à partir d’une bouture, il ne peut pas vivre sans parasiter un arbre, qui lui fournit sa sève et ses sels minéraux qui lui permettent de fabriquer sa matière organique." The relative pronouns are a little strange in the quote — que appears too many times — but that's the quote.

    It goes on to say: "Grâce à nos observations nous pouvons affirmer que le gui va pouvoir vivre encore un peu de temps sur l’arbre mort" — from which I infer that it will die soon after the tree that it lives on dies.

    PJ, you see mistletoe on a lot of trees around here. We have some in an apple tree in our yard but it is so high up in the tree that we haven't yet been able to pull it down.

    BettyAnn, see you in late Feb. in N.C. We feel lucky not to have had that storm. Loulou down south just wrote to say her electricity has been off for more than 30 hours.

  5. Thank you for the link. I learned a lot about mistletoe today.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?