24 March 2009

Contradictory signs of spring's arrival

This morning on TéléMatin the host just said that our springtime is over! Boy are those cuckoos going to be disappointed. They flew all this way only to arrive too late for spring.

The reason for lamentations over the end of springtime is that our weather has changed, after a long stretch of warm sunny days. « Le temps va se dégrader », they keep saying. Yesterday was a nice sunny day again, with winds from the south. That means I was afflicted with burning eyes and sneezing fits all day. Pollen. My second attack in March.

This forsythia bush in our back garden
has enjoyed our early springtime.

By late afternoon the wind started shifting to the west. I immediately started feeling better, but I went to bed, miserable and feeling sorry for myself, just before 9:00 p.m. I was looking forward to the rain. And I feel better this morning, surely because of the new air flow pattern.

On yesterday's late afternoon walk in the vineyard, which workers
have all prepared for the growing season. Now nature will take over.

Overnight we had a hard shower. I don't think it lasted long. There are some puddles out on the road this morning. The rain was hard enought to wake me up at about 2:30 a.m. Now MétéoFrance is predicting rain daily for the next five or six days. Oh well, the ground was pretty dry and the flowers and seeds need the water.

How do I know that the ground was dry? Because I tilled up two of our vegetable garden plots yesterday morning. Finally. I'd been trying to get out there to do it for weeks, but with that lingering cold and cough I had, I just kept putting it off.

Two of the garden plots are now tilled and waiting.
It's dirty work but it only took me about 1½ hours.

We have a rotary cultivator so the work isn't as hard as it would be if our only tools were a shovel and an aching back. Still, the cultivator is a heavy piece of equipment and you have to push and pull on it, haul it around corners at the edges of the plots, and generally wear yourself out fighting with it.

Did I mention that I turned 60 years old the other day?

Go for it, birds! Eat all the bugs and weed seeds while you can.

Since rain was on the way, the tilling had to be done. Life in Saint-Aignan wouldn't be the same without a vegetable garden, and hard work is the price you pay for home-grown tomatoes, zukes, eggplants, beans, and bell peppers. Or for nothing, if the weather doesn't cooperate during the growing season.

It's pretty satisfying to have this much of the tilling done and to know that the final garden preparations in April and early May will be a piece of cake. In northern France, it is inadvisable to set plants out in the garden before May 15. People in Saint-Aignan like to talk about a big snowstorm that blew through on a May 10 a few years (decades?) ago.

But we bought garden tunnels for this year, so we may get some things growing under protected conditions as early as mid-April. A head start. The race is on. The ground is prepared. Some horse manure, another tilling, a little transplanting, and then we will be in the weeding and watering phase. We'll just sit out back on our chaises longues and watch nature take its course.


  1. I remember leaving Paris on May 1st to head south with a snow flurry! It only happened once, though

  2. Isn't it satisfying when it's done though?

    I'm digging out brambles again today and will no doubt have the aching back to prove it tomorrow.

    Hippo Bathday for 60th!


  3. Ahhhh :)) The soil looks so rich and ready to be planted! Good job!

    We're having a cold and rain front moving in... started with lots of wind late yesterday and through the night, and we'll have rain storms tonight.


  4. Here there are only snowdrops, early crocuses, Iris reticulata, and a few grape hyacinths blooming. The Virginia bluebells and some other wildflowers just pushed their leaves up yesterday. No lilac buds, no forsythias in bloom yet.

    So we are weeks behind you in that regard, but I'm surprised that our suggested last frost date is May 10 and yours is May 15.

    I remember waking up to icicles in our tent on May 1, but that was in Switzerland.

  5. At sixty, Alzheimer is around the corne! Should make notes, and a special one, if you can remember where it is, as a reminder to check the others!

    Leaving for VA in a week from tomorrow.


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