13 December 2010


Some days I feel like I've gone into hibernation. The sun comes up late (8:35 right now) and goes down early (just before 5:00). The days are often gray and dim. By the way, it's supposed to start snowing again tomorrow. I don't think we'll get the 40 to 50 cm they just got in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin, however.

But then we not in the far north. Still, several buildings had their roofs cave in up on the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy during the last snow episode. Some were farm buildings, but at least one collapse caused damage at a shopping center. The weight of the snow was just too much, with some places getting 70 cm (over 2 feet).

The Renaudière vineyard, outside
Saint-Aignan- sur-Cher, on a December morning

Anyway, hibernation. I find myself going to bed earlier and earlier, and getting up later and later. Often by 10 I'm asleep. And I'm still covered up and warm at 7:30 or even 8:00 in the morning. And I've always been an early bird. Is it the cold? The darkness? My age? All of the above? It's just the season, I guess.

Last week a major four-lane highway on the southwest side of Paris was a scene of chaos for drivers. The road goes through a hilly area and is also fairly curvy. And it was iced over after 4 or 5 inches of snow fell. Several hundreds or even thousands of people — it's always hard to get a firm number in such situations — of people were stuck in their cars for many hours, with no way to get off the road.

December sunrise (1) over the Renaudière vineyard

The government was blamed for not calling out the snowplows and road-salting equipment early enough. With trucks and cars blocking all lanes for miles, getting such equipment in became impossible. People interviewed on TV said they had been sitting in their vehicles for 6, 8, even 10 hours without making any significant forward progress.

They started abandoning their cars and walking to exits, looking for some hot coffee or food and maybe a warm place to spend the night. Different towns along the road set up emergency shelters for them in gyms and other public buildings. Shopkeepers let people sleep in their heated storerooms.

December sunrise (2) at Saint-Aignan

The prime minister, François Fillon, was asked why the government hadn't sent out crews to plow and salt the roads. He promptly blamed MétéoFrance for failing to predict the intensity of the coming storm. That caused an uproar, with the TV news broadcasts re-screening the predictions that had preceded the storm to show that the weather service wasn't at fault. It was all a big exercise in passing the buck, as we say.

So hibernation isn't so bad, on second thought. It's better than being out on the highways in bad weather, as so many people are. We'll see how much snow and how much chaos this week's weather brings.


  1. Crazy how the weather affects our moods. I say, don't fight... stay warm and cozy in bed!


  2. The second photo is a cracker Ken... it would make a great postcard or Christmas card.

  3. Surprised that Callie can hold
    it that long...or perhaps
    Walt is up earlier. She's
    young, though. Our guy is
    dancing at the door at 6 a.m.
    at the very latest, but he's

  4. What a glorious sunrise! We may have two feet of snow by Wednesday. My grandson who lives a few miles away is having a snow day. I had plans for today that included going out, but I think I will make new plans!

    I'm sure it is the season that makes you sleep more. It's the reasonable and natural thing to do.

  5. Just a few more days til the solstice and we can start to slowly add the minutes to our days. Ken, I think we're all in the same boat. I've got a friend in Sweden who's got the winter blues much worse.

  6. Our friends that live in Finland report that it's common to sleep much more in the dark winter, and a minimal amount during the "midnight sun" of summer.

  7. in bed by 10? ha! its 8:34pm and i'm struggling to stay awake. think of is as i do, a reward for all the hard work you did this summer.

  8. I've always been a 'morning person' too, but in the past 3-4 months my days and nights have gotten turned around. I think age has got to be a part of it (darn) but then again, maybe it's my fault because when I get a healthy (30 - 45 min.) of exercise I can go to bed early and sleep well.

    I love those sky photos! Today I wish I had kept my promise to keep my camera in my car: I saw the widest rainbow I have ever seen as I looked east as I was climbing my hill to go home.

  9. I used to leap out of bed at 7 on Saturday and Sunday, which seemed late compared to when I get up during the week. Lately I've found myself sleeping until past 8, even 9...age, maybe? But my Dad, at nearly 82, still gets up at 5 or so every morning, even if he has a bad night or goes to sleep later than usual.

    I think bed is a nice place to be in this cold!


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