17 March 2009

Five Four signs of spring

I've been back in Saint-Aignan for two weeks now, after my trip to North Carolina. I'm still trying to get my bearings. This lingering cold is one of the reasons. I'm still not completely over it. It's getting better, however slowly.

The saxifrage is flowering in the back yard.

I talked to my pharmacist, Madame Smith — she's French, but her husband is a Scot — and she said I've probably lost my resistance to American cold germs. She has a sister-in-law, she says, who is from the Caribbean island called Martinique, which is part of France the way Hawaii is part of the U.S.

Old Monsieur D. is out tending his vines, and Roland, who
drives the red truck, is doing gardening at a neighbor's.

Before she moved to France, my sister-in-law was more or less immune to the effects of mosquito bites over there in the islands, Mme Smith said. Now she has lived in European France for many years. When she goes back to Martinique to see family, she suffers horribly from mosquito bites. She lost her immunity.

The gendarmes are back — no,
not policemen, but these little orange bugs

I don't know what made this cold so bad and so long-lasting, but I can't blame the weather. We are having glorious, sunny days with temperatures in the high 50s or low 60s F. Out back, sitting near the west wall of the house, which seems to reflect and concentrate the heat, it feels like summer in the afternoon hours.

Wild cyclamen continue to send up pink flowers in March.

Spring has sprung, and the pictures in this post show some of the first signs of the new season and good weather that we get here in Saint-Aignan. I can't wait to feel well enough to get outside and do some work. First, the cough has to get better.

Another picture of the firebugs — they are
the swallows in our Capistrano.

I'm off to the SuperU supermarket this morning to do some shopping. I can't believe that I haven't been up there even once since I got back from America. I have a long list of things to buy: lettuce, spinach, geraniums (for the window boxes, not the table), veal, a tin of sauerkraut, rice (for making Callie's daily breakfast), English Breakfast tea, flour, dried apricots...


  1. I noticed, before I moved to France and was travelling between the two countries, that the minute I hit France my hay fever would go crazy with the different grasses and plants.

    Now my system'd got sed to it, it's not too bad.

    Get well soon a nd enjoy the spring.


  2. There's probably a new strain of cold running around, maybe worldwide. For the first time this winter in the desert, I've had a very nasty cold that began the day after la Chandeleur and was still lingering at the beginning of March. Very unusual.

  3. Ken, everyone I know who has had this "cold" (which for some turned into a respiratory infection, especially if it was the second go-round for them... like me, my friend Cheri, and Elliot), has had a lingering cough for many weeks. It's a bad strain that's going around, but have no fear, it will eventually end :)

    Hey, my very non-French sweet & sour sauerkraut with pork chops turned out to be pretty darn tasty :)


  4. Mosquitoes are attracted to certain odours, like smelly feet and strong cheese. I think it is possible that Mme Smith's belle-soeur is eating more cheese now she is in France, and is thus more attractive to mosquitoes when she goes back to Martinique, so she is being bitten more, as well as having lost whatever antibodies one has that mitigate the effects of the bites.

  5. the flu/cold thing has been lasting at least 2 weeks in these parts (east coast) and my cough lingered because of my blood pressure meds.....my doc said that the meds latch onto the cough & keep it going....so all i had to do was stop taking for a bit (2 weeks) i don't know if u take bp meds, but just a thought....has helped me

  6. Hello CHM, glad to hear that your cold is pretty much finished. Hope that is the case, at least.

    Judy, I bought a jar of French choucroute at the supermarket this morning and we'll try it tomorrow, in comparison to the raw choucroute I prepared myself from scratch.

    One brand of tinned choucroute was 69% sauerkraut with 0.5% Riesling wine in it. Another brand was 72% sauerkraut with 2.0% Riesling. I chose the second, and it was slightly less expensive. I bet my sauerkraut had more like 5% to 10% wine in it! That would explain its sweetness.

    Melinda, the problem with stopping the blood-pressure medication to see if the cold goes away is that there is no control on the experiment. Maybe the cold would have gone away anyway. My cough is not intense or persistent, but nagging and periodic. I am sitting in the sun this afternoon trying to have it baked out of me.

    Susan, cheese! Wow, cheese causes everything. Cholesterol. Gout. Mosquito bites. Maybe it causes smelly feet! Thank goodness we don't have many mosquitoes around here, especially compared to the mosquito situation in the Caribbean and in places like coastal North Carolina.

  7. Not Waving, the exact opposite happened to me when I came to France: All the allergies I had in California miraculously disappeared. I had definite allergic reactions when I went back to North Carolina in Febrary, and I'm sure the cause was cypress pollen.

    There was an allergologue, an allergist, on France 2's noon news today, and he said cypress pollen is on of the main culprits in the recent increase in the number of people suffering from allergies these days. He said people are being encouraged NOT to plant so much cypress. It's too noxious.

  8. Ken, I really think your cold came from the long plane travel. There are too many people who come from all over and a proven inadequate supply of oxygen. Germs just love airplanes. I think more time and rest will take care of the cold.

  9. Gabby, I'm sure you are right. Yesterday at the supermarket I notice several people who had the same dry cough that I've got. It's going around. I came down with it toward the end of my stay in N.C., but that doesn't mean I didn't catch it on the plane. My resistance was down, I know. Hope you are well. K.


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