14 November 2009

L'été de la St-Martin

For the past couple of days, we've been experiencing a "Saint Martin summer" — l'eté de la Saint-Martin. It's what we call Indian Summer in North America: a few warm sunny days in autumn, after the first cold snap of the season.

The feast day honoring Saint Martin, a Roman soldier who ended up in Tours and founded a monastery there in the 4th century, falls on November 11 every year. Saint Martin de Tours is credited with greatly expanding Christianity to France.

The vineyard workers' stone storage shed
with our house in the background

According to legend, when Saint Martin died in November of the year 397 A.D., his corpse was transported up the Loire River from Candes back to Tours. All along the way, flowers bloomed, despite the season. That's where the expression "Saint Martin's summer" came from.

A long view of the Renaudière vineyard,
with our house in the distance

Thursday and Friday were bright and sunny, and the temperature went up to 16ºC — the low 60s. That's warm after days and weeks of rain with high temperatures about 50. Our morning lows have been as high as the afternoon high temperatures we'd gotten used to.

...and a closer view

The mornings are cloudy, but not overcast, making for pretty skies. This morning early — around 5:00 a.m. — a strong wind came up and blew a lot more leaves off the trees. We spent a couple of hours yesterday raking leaves out front and hauling them to the garden plots out back, where we spread them to keep the winter weeds down.

Nice morning skies

I just looked out the windows to see if any of those leaves were still there, and I was surprised to see that they are, after the strong winds earlier. I guess they were wet enough to be stuck together and heavy, so they resisted. I imagined we might have to go rake them all up a second time.

Yesterday there were some fall colors left, but the wind
early this morning might have taken care of that.

It rained a little. I don't think our Saint Martin summer will last. We're actually having a fairly late fall, compared to other recent years. The temperature has barely been below freezing at all. Walt says the mornings were colder in Upstate New York when he was there last week.

Looking northwest toward Normandy and Brittany

If past years are any indication, a cold gloom will soon descend upon the region. Already, it gets dark by 6:00 p.m. and the sun comes up after 8:00 in the morning. Soon the sky will stay overcast for days and weeks on end. Cooking good wintertime food will be our consolation.


  1. That's an interesting story about St Martin's Day. It took a while for Christianity to get there.

    I went with a friend to Gadsden yesterday to see an exhibit of a model (no one knows what the real one actually looked like) of the Gutenberg press. They do know the press was adapted from a wine press and that's what this one looked like. The invention was from the mid 1400s and totally made of wood. We watched it print.

    The exhibit was called "ink and blood". I guess because some of the people who translated the bible were killed along the way- at least that happened to Tyndale.

  2. Hi Ken, Well, we certainly enjoyed 'L'été de St. Martin' while we were staying in Normandy in the beginning of the week.

    Did you know that there is another legend that says that, as it was a very cold day when Saint Martin shared his military cloak with a beggar, the sun came out just to keep them both warm? Martine

  3. "Saint Martin de Tours is credited with bringing Christianity to France" Now we know who to blame.

  4. Love the leaf colors in the vineyard!


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