18 July 2009

Mid-summer status report, plans

Yesterday the high temperature was 67ºF. The day before, it had been 87ºF. We kept the house closed up all day yesterday — not to keep the hot air out, but to keep the warm air in. Such is life in Saint-Aignan in July.

The temperature when I got up this morning was 11ºC — just 52ºF! The house is quickly cooling down.

Apricots I picked a couple of days ago
out on the edge of the vineyard

Not only was it cooler yesterday, but rain poured down in squalls off and on all day. That was good — we needed the rain, and the garden will be the better for it. Walt stuck a stake in the ground next to the corn stalk that blew over in Thursday night's wind and tied it up. Maybe it will survive.

Grape leaves and grapes

Most of the 10 or so corn (maize) plants we planted in the garden now sport tassels, which means we might end up getting a few ears of sweet corn in a while. Sweet corn is something we can't buy at the markets or supermarkets here in Saint-Aignan. And it's something we would enjoy eating.

Tomatoes continue to ripen. This cooler weather will slow them down, but hey, it's not even July 20 yet. We have August and September to look forward to.

It has been very busy here for more than a month now. CHM came to visit around June 10. We did quite a bit of sight-seeing together. Soon after he returned to Paris, friends of a good friend in California came to visit for 24 hours and we drove all around the region with them to see some of the major landmarks.

Every time we have visitors, we feel obligated to get out the vacuum cleaner and the feather duster to make the house presentable. In other words, we do housework we might not do otherwise. Having visitors motivates us to do "spring cleaning."

A day or two later — a week ago — a old friend and a new friend from Normandy arrived. We had three evening meals here at the house, and we spent one evening in Saint-Aignan eating pizza at a sidewalk café and one day driving over to Amboise, Vouvray, and Château-Renault. Before they arrived, the house needed cleaning again, especially the bathroom and kitchen. Meals had to be planned and prepared. Busy, busy, busy. But it was fun.

Now we have to get going on some summertime home- improvement and maintenance projects. There are drains to be snaked out, exterior walls to be cleaned with bleach and acid, and deck edges and bottoms to be scraped, sanded, and maybe repainted. There is firewood for the winter to be cut, and there's a very long, wide, and high hedge due for its annual trimming. There are ronces — wild blackberry brambles — to be cut back, before they take over the whole property. There's a half-dead apple tree that needs to be cut down and then cut up for firewood.

Best of all, though, it looks like there will be many tomatoes and zucchini, and probably some eggplants, bell peppers, beans, and ears of corn to be harvested. These are our rewards. There are so many apples that I'm sure I will be making a couple of big batches of apple jelly and several batches of applesauce too. I'm not even mentioning the pears and plums we are likely to have, and that will need to be dealt with if we are to benefit from them.

Apples are definitely ripening.

Let's hope the weather goes back to being warm and fairly dry. And that such weather might continue into October.

Another summer is speeding by. It's already been nearly a month since the solstice — the longest day of the year. We can now feel the hours of daylight diminishing. However, 2009 is turning out to be a very good year.


  1. quite cool this am in western NC too......tomorrow is my 60th and i believe it's the coolest ever for a b'day....looking forward to my brother & his partner cooking a lovely seafood feast! meanwhile i still have a lot of weeding to do.....yesterday I "discovered" a yellow jacket nest while weeding....luckily in time to avoid being attacked

  2. Melinda, happy 60th. Being a fellow sexagenarian, I understand what a "cool" day tomorrow will be. What are your temperatures in NC in July? I'll look at weather.com... Enjoy the seafood and stay away from those yellow jackets.

  3. Coolest day I can remember in July here in Ohio too. A high of 73. Usually, we're humid and sweltering. Do the French not eat corn? Just curious.

  4. In France they grow a lot of feed corn but no sweet corn that I know of. The only corn you ever see on peoples' plates comes out of a can. And it is always in a salad, often a Salade Mexicaine.

  5. Ken, it wouldn't bother me if you didn't do any housecleaning before I arrive! ;-)

    Even without the cleaning, it sounds like you two will have a busy time in the next couple of months.


  6. Ken, you needn't do all this "ménage"/cleaning ! I don't pay attention to dust, what I'm interested in is... sharing nice moments with Walt and you, and we had a great time together ;-) Bises. Marie

  7. Ken. You mention wind and rain. I gather that some vineyards in the Cher Valley were hit by hail during the night of 16th-17th July. Do you have any news of this in the Saint-Aignan-Mareuil area please?



  8. Hello Jim, I should have answered you comment here. We had no hail on this side of the village, but the bread lady, who lives in Thésée, says there was some hail over there and in Pouillé. It must not have been too bad, because I didn't hear any more about it.


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