29 November 2010

The 4th day: a Sunday surprise

At 10 a.m. yesterday, I decided to go to the supermarket to get a few things. I was making a blanquette de dinde, and I wanted some fresh mushrooms. I also needed white wine, since most of what I had left downstairs needed to go into the blanquette sauce.

I'm glad I went when I did. It wasn't snowing, even though we had seen a flurry or two by then. According to MétéoFrance's forecast the day before, we were well outside the snow area, which was south of us (Dordogne, Limousin, Auvergne). Our day was supposed to be gray and cold, but dry.

Blanquette de dinde
turkey in a cream sauce with mushrooms, onions, and carrots

SuperU was no more of a zoo than usual. People were gathered in groups, socializing and blocking the aisles. Carts were left everywhere, in the most inconvenient places. I found everything on my list (and more), including garlic, clémentine oranges, and some lardons de volaille — a new product for me. Plus a nice hunk of Gruyère cheese for a good price — I almost never buy Gruyère (from Switzerland) because the similar Comté cheese from France is so good and usually less expensive.

Anyway, back to the story. When I got home at 11:00 and started working on the blanquette again — the turkey was simmering on the stove in white wine with leek tops, carrots, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and allspice berries — Walt came into the kitchen and said: "You got back just in time. We're having a snowstorm." I looked out the window and saw big fluffy flakes falling. Heavily. But it wasn't yet sticking, and it looked like the kind of snow that wouldn't fall for long.

Looking out the kitchen window
at about 11:30 in the morning

...and a couple of hours later28 November 2010

By 2:00, though, it was clear we were having a significant snow event. The white stuff was piling up on the ground, the tops of hedges, tree limbs all around, and even the road. At about 3:30, a snow plow came and cleared the road, but that didn't last long. After a few minutes, it was completely covered over again.

Looking out the north window in the afternoon

Walt took Callie out for a walk at about 4:30. When he came back, he said it looked to him like we had about 6" (that's 15 cm) of snow on the ground. Callie loved it. He said he threw snowballs for her to catch, and when she failed to catch one she would look all around for it. It wasn't to be found, of course. When he got home, Walt said it was still snowing pretty hard.

Another view out the north window

About 5:30 I looked at my blog and left a comment on the day's post. I finished what I was doing at about a quarter to six, and that's when the power went out. It was predictable, I guess, because it had flickered off and back on four or five times over the previous couple of hours. Still, it was nightfall, and it was awfully dark without the lights.

The boiler that heats our steam radiators requires electricity to run. Luckily, Walt had a good fire going in the wood-burning stove. I carefully made my way downstairs from the loft space. Walt was already lighting candles. I had a pot of turkey broth boiling on the stove in the kitchen, just reducing. There was some cooked rice left over from lunch. I put the rice in the broth and we had a bowl of soup to fortify ourselves.

Walt and Callie coming back from their morning walk 
29 November 2010

Of course our thoughts were going back to last March 1 — whenever the electricity flickers off, they do. Back then, after a powerful windstorm, we were without electricity — no lights, computers, TVs, central heat, or hot water — for 4½ days. The freezers were closed tight but slowly thawing out. Don't let that happen again, I kept thinking yesterday.

By 7:30 I decided there was nothing else to do but get in bed and pull the covers up to my ears. That's what I did. But first I went around and tried to remember what lights might have been on when the power failed so that I could attempt to switch them off. We unplugged the DSL modem, the refrigerator, and the freezer so that they wouldn't be damaged if there was a power surge when the current did come back.

Views of the back yard
28 November 2010

It was 9:40 p.m. when I was awakened by the sound of the cordless phone base chirping. My clock radio display was flashing. I got up and turned off all the lights that were still on despite my best attempt to turn everything off. I plugged in the freezer and the fridge, and then I went back to bed. I heard the phone chirp three or four more times before 10 o'clock, which meant the power was still flickering on and off. I crossed my fingers about the fate of the fridge and freezer compressors and succeeded in going back to sleep.

I got up at 4:30 this morning. All is normal. The radiators are warm. So am I. Now, at 6:30, I'm waiting for daylight to see how pretty it will be outside. I hope we see the sun this morning.

The morning news says that the area around Orléans — 100 km or 60 miles north of Saint-Aignan — got about a foot of snow (30 cm). And that this is the earliest significant snowfall in this part of France in about 30 years. It's supposed to get colder and colder every day this week — and with more « épisodes neigeux » — snow events — as the week wears on.


  1. So amazingly tranquil and calm in appearance. I can't imagine what it is like to live in a place where it snows. It is so like a postcard.

  2. When I read your post I feel so glad I don't have to fight that kind of weather. If I were there I think I would stay in bed for as long as it takes. Hope you won't have anymore power failures.

    Even though it's almost midnight here, I'm sending a few rays of sun to brighten you up.

  3. Up here in the Paris suburbs all is white, too. do you have gas burners? My kids, who do not have gas in their buildings and who have induction burners, are always trying to convince me to change. I tell them I remember the days of electricity outages due to strikes (in the '70s) and just plain blackouts. I might not be able to keep the heat on, but at least I can warm up some food, heat some water for tea or just a sponge bath.
    I'm making turkey soup today. We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. If anyone was watching football afterwards, it was the PSG-Lyon game.
    Keep warm!

  4. It looks so beautiful! And the snow always brings this sense of calm quiet with it. Just magical! Until you have to go out in it and then it is a bit of a pain! We haven't had any in Reading yet and it doesn't looks if we will do either. It is bitterly cold though but beautifully sunny so that will do nicely! Just as well we have had our heating/hot water and electricity fixed! Bring on the winter!!

  5. Great photos! And the blanqette de dinde looked yummy. We're south of you in Charnizay but had snow too. Always think snow is absolutely lovely and somehow magical. Took pictures of our rescue kitten who thought it was great fun.

    Enjoy reading your blog. We are newbies to this whole blog thing and have just started one ourselves.

  6. This is amazing! Are you sure you aren't living in some remote Alpen village? :) We had a bright sunny day yesterday. Freezing but sunny, with clear blue skies! Right now some light snow is falling and more is predicted later today. Martine

  7. Oh my oh my! Those are glorious photos. I love looking at snow when it's newly down, nice and fluffy and clean and white, especially when it's on green hedges and evergreen trees.


  8. A winter wonderland, indeed, but too much excitement with power outages. Still, I love the pictures. We had tiny intermittent flakes for an hour or so yesterday morning, but so far no snow in northeast Ohio though it is cold enough.

    I think I should locate my camping stove in the attic just in case...

    Hope your day is beautiful and electric today.

  9. What wonderful photos. Snow always looks so magical. I've only seen it a few times in my life, and never had to put up with the inconveniences it can cause, so I just think how pretty it looks and how quiet it makes the world seem.

    Glad I'm not dealing with the cold and the power outages though. Stay warm!


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