03 April 2009

Just another spring day

Now they are saying it's going to rain in Saint-Aignan today. And we could really use the moisture. The ground seems very dry, especially out in the vineyard. Maybe the vines are sucking up a lot of water right now. I see leaf buds on a lot of them these days.

French dogs say « Ouah ! Ouah ! » when they want attention.

I say it seems dry, but yesterday I dug a hole to plant a sage bush in. I was moving it from one location to another. Just a few inches down the ground is still very wet. This clay soil we have really holds moisture, I guess. I have a second sage bush to transplant, but I probably won't get it done today, assuming it rains.

The little lilac bush we planted in 2007 is about to bloom.

I bet we get only clouds. That seems to happen a lot here in Saint-Aignan. Rain threatens, but doesn't actually materialize. Meanwhile, they've had 3 or 4 feet of snow in the Alps north of Nice, and rain on the Mediterranean coast for a few days now.

These Sempervivum plants are multiplying so fast
that I don't know what to do with them all.

The weather has been so warm that it is very tempting to start sowing seeds or setting out plants in the garden, but I know that would most likely be a mistake. So I'm satisfying myself with transplanting established specimens. A couple of days ago, I dug up a big old rose bush and moved it to a sunnier location. I also replanted a peony Walt had dug up so he could plant a lavender bush in its place.

Willow canes that have been cut and stacked in the vineyard

I sat out in the sun for three or four hours yesterday, listening to the radio and occasionally throwing a stick for Callie to chase. I took a thermometer outside and it read 22ºC in the shade. That's a veritable heat wave in Saint-Aignan, especially in April. Don't get too excited — 22ºC is just barely above 70ºF. The sun was strong and hot, and there was no wind at all.

Scene in a neighbor's yard

When I took the dog out for her walk at 6:00 p.m., our neighbor Madame le Maire and her husband were out working in their yard. Callie saw them and went running down a row of vines over to their place to greet them. She didn't stay long and came immediately when I called her. I waved at the neighbors. I could hear a lawn mower or rotary cultivator running, so I assume they were either cutting their grass or preparing the vegetable garden for the season.

Peonies coming up out in the garden

Tomorrow is market day in Saint-Aignan. I'm going to go look for some local white asparagus. It's the beginning of the season. Asparagus and strawberries are two big spring crops locally — that is, in the Sologne region, which starts just across the river from us. They have sandy soil, not clay, over there, and that's perfect for asperges and fraises.


  1. It looks like spring to me in Saint-Aignan. Lovely.

    So, now that we know Callie understands bilingually, do we know if she is a French dog? Does she say "Ouah! Ouah!", for instance?

  2. Hi Ginny, I think knowing whether Callie is saying "ouah ouah" or "arf arf" is mostly in the ear of the listener. She is French. At least, she was born in France.

    She also kept us awake all last night whimpering. I think she ate something bad yesterday out in the yard or on our walk. Stupid dog. Her stomach was growling and gurgling loudly. I keep telling her she doesn't need to eat found food — we feed her well — but I can't get her to quit.

    I don't think she understands the cause-and-effect relationship between eating merde and having an upset stomach all night. With her, it's "if it smells good (or bad), eat it."

  3. I'm in mourning for the passion flower that hasn't survived the winter.

    Thankfully the vines are already budding though.


  4. It is interesting that in St Aignan "it doesn't rain here".

    In Preuilly it also "doesn't rain here", or at least, not if you listen to the locals!

    The local story is te get surrounded by rainclouds, and rain is threatened, but "it never rains here" - which means that I should feel extra lucky about the number of photos I have taken of our street flowing like a river.

    The verification word is "mashat" which is what would happen if you wore a paper sou'wester...

  5. Hi Simon, yes, they say the same thing in Preuilly as in Saint-Aignan then. But the last year has been very rainy everywhere. So far, at 11:30, it is not raining in Saint-Aignan today.

    Often we see reports of rain north of us -- north of the Loire -- and south of us. The Loire Valley has its own climate.

  6. I'll take some of your echeveria off your hands in a couple of months if you have some spare thanks :-)

  7. I'll try to beat Susan to your Echeverias, since I WANT some myself. If I'm not mistaken they are called "artichauts" in French.

    Hi Susan! Would you be interested in a cactus cutting that should do great in Preuilly? It could even bloom. A conversation piece!

    Can't wait to see if my wild Fuchsia cutting from Jeanine's garden in Normandy ever survived the Parisian winter!

  8. I have plenty of "artichauts" — a.k.a. "hens and chicks" — to go around. In June, we will divide them up.

    I also have several cactus plants that I can share with those interested.

  9. Ginger and I have a term for rain clouds that drop rain on others, but never on us. We call it being "Jean-de-Florette'ed."

  10. I love it, Simon!

    Ken, sure hope Callie feels better. Our dogs are regular grass eaters, and they overdo it and then we all suffer because of it.

  11. That's a nice one, Simon. Ginny, Callie doesn't eat grass until after she has eaten whatever it is that makes her sick. Grass is her Rolaids, I guess.

    CHM, what I hope is that your laurier-sauce is still living there in Paris. You'll tell me.


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