20 December 2009

Snow and rain

We here in Saint-Aignan are not getting snow in the quantities that Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York are getting this weekend, but it's plenty for us. It snowed again in the wee hours yesterday, and we had flurries all during the day. The temperature outside has stayed below freezing for days, and the house feels cold despite hot radiators and the wood fire.

Apples in the snow

Houses here are just not built for this kind of frigid weather. The insulation isn't sufficient — in our house, there isn't much if any because it's built of concrete blocks and bricks that are simply plastered over on the inside. The temperature yesterday morning was nearly -7ºC/+20ºF. That's nothing compared to the cold they might have in Montréal or Chicagao, but then it's all in what you are used to and prepared for.

My "cabbage patch" is snow-covered, like everybody else's.

I remember a severe cold snap in San Francisco at Christmas many years ago. We lived in a top-floor apartment in a building downtown. With the outside temperature just below freezing — lows unheard of there — for two or three days we couldn't get the temperature in our apartment above 55ºF, even with the heat on full blast. We had to go to work to get warm. Here in Saint-Aignan, it's not quite that bad. The house gets up to 65 or 70.

Walks in the vineyard, even in snow, are still nice.

Weather today in Saint-Aignan will be more snow. Not much, I hope, and it may start turning into rain by tonight or tomorrow. That will be a mess. If we can get out today and do some necessary shopping, we'll be set for another few days and won't have to deal with the muck and slickness outside. Well, we'll have to walk the dog, but we won't have to take the car out again until Thursday. That's when we'll go pick up our Christmas goose at the market in Saint-Aignan.

The pond has been frozen over for a few days now.

This morning we want to go to the market over in Noyers-sur-Cher, on the other side of the river. It's not much more than 5 miles from the house. I hope the vendors we want to buy things from will have showed up. Wish us luck getting back up the steep hill that leads up to our hamlet.

On Saturday the road was salted and sanded,
but then it snowed some more.

I just checked the MéteoFrance web site. The forecast is for light snow this morning, heavier snow this afternoon, and rain in the evening turning to snow again overnight. It's also gotten pretty windy. Doesn't that sound nice?


  1. Ken,
    I feel so guilty saying this (no I don't), but I rode my bike in a beautiful sunny morning and actually gained a little colour in my exposed bits.
    Having said that, we can never dream of a white Christmas.

  2. Bonjour Ken,

    It's still snowing a bit in my Norman village and the snow which fell down the last 2 days is still covering everything, it's beautiful ! It's all the more beautiful as I'm now on Xmas holiday, so I don't have to drive down to Rouen every morning and worry about having my Clio suddenly skidding because of the snow or "une plaque de verglas"/a patch of black ice, phew/ouf !!!!!!!!!

    Filou, my Maine Coon like cat, loves playing in the snow, I took lots of pics of him yesterday :-)

    Bises to both of you ! Mary (Marie, Normandy, France)

  3. Leon, I hope you didn't get heatstroke! Enjoy the nice weather, and don't expose too many bits.

    Mary, thanks for your message. I got your e-mail with the nice pictures of the cat and the snow. I also have an e-mail that I meant to send this morning but I got distracted by phone calls and visitors. I'll send it directly. Bises à toi.

  4. Ken hope the trip was uneventful as far as driving is concerned ( I am sure you will have a lot to say about the market ) and even though it snowed again, the salt and sand underneath the fresh layer must have helped a bit.

    This is the first time I can remember that we have had such a cold spell in December in Montréal ( when the heat pump stops and we have to rely on the furnace - the cut off temp is at -15C). Usually the temp dips at that level in the new year - Jan and Feb.

  5. i will be cooking my goose (yes, a real goose) tomorrow since our son will be home then and not on xmas....any tips from the master goose cooker??

  6. Black ice is so dangerous. I read that by wednesday, Europe will be out of that cold snap. Maybe you won't have a white Christmas after all.

  7. Melinda, I have blogged about it yet but I plan to first poach the goose (if it will fit into one my my big pots) and then brown it in the oven. It's a method I've used before for turkey, ducks, and chickens. I'm not sure how long the goose will need to poach -- maybe 90 mins. to two hrs. Then at least 30 if not 60 minutes in the oven. I think the poaching will render out much of the fat, which will float on top of the poaching liquid rather than splatter the whole inside of the oven. We'll see.

    The Beav, I wondered if it was usually so cold in Montréal in December. And am I understand that you have both a furnace (oil-fired?) and a heat pump (electric?) for your house? I guess the heat pump also provides AC in the summer.

    It is raining here now and the snow is melting. It's supposed to all freeze over again tonight and then really warm up tomorrow and Tuesday.

    The driving was not too bad this morning. Only at one point did I feel the car really slipping and sliding. At the market there were only half as many stalls as usual, but the main ones we needed things from were there.

  8. Well, it certainly looks lovely, so I'm focusing on that!


  9. I'm glad to hear that you made it back from the market- you have quite a little hill to climb to get back home. That little hill is what allows you to see BOTH sunrise and sunset- both good things, especially this time of year.

    Mary- it's good to see you here. Filou is a remarkable cat.

  10. Ken , living in the province of Québec where electricity is cheaper than oil or gas, we have an electric forced air system ( furnace), made up of a heating coil
    package and blower unit, that pushes warm air to registers throughout the house via ductworks. Affirmative, the heat pump is electric and it does function as an A/C in the summer months.

  11. Brrrrr.......those photos make me feel COLD......It's just the same here. We are hoping desperately that the weather will improve and not prevent our travelling to LGP after Christmas. We SOOO are ready for another "fix" of our little house in France. And we are really looking forward to saying hello to you and Walt - and most of all, Callie (only joking).

    Keep warm. I recommend porridge for breakfast - as my Mum would say, it sticks to your ribs and keeps the cold out!

  12. Thank goodness you have all of that stacked firewood ready to use. Your home looks very cozy and welcoming.We have a sunroom/enclosed porch (no insulation underneath). We had frost on the inside of the windows one morning.

  13. Enjoyed the post. I could wish for snow but all I get is fog...The last time I had snow was in 15 years ago!


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