07 December 2010

Pre-winter, post-snow green

The rain is pouring down again today. We got over an inch —
26 mm — of rain yesterday. Or was it the day before? These gray days tend to run together in a blur.

But not the weeks. This week is very wet and chilly. And green again. It's quite a contrast to last week's frigid white decor.

It's very hard to take pictures right now, with the rain and the gloom. But I managed to take these three this morning, from various windows around the house.

I've gone back to look at previous years' photos taken here in Saint-Aignan on or about this date, December 7. In some years, the sun is shining brightly and everything is green, even though the leave are off the trees. In those years, we had raked up all the dead leaves and everything looked much neater.

One year, we had a big windstorm on this date. The weather varies a lot. I guess it does in most places, doesn't it?

It was 8 years ago this week when we found this house we now live in. Soon after, we decided to pack up and move to France to live full-time. We have no regrets, no buyer's remorse. I'm enjoying retirement but I hate to watch the years just fly by.

At the same time... is it spring yet?


  1. It must be raining all over the world. My daughter just rang from Queensland and she is waiting at her workplace. She needs a lift home through flood waters. Let's hope that the weather changes for everyone soon; either that or I suggest that you consider boat building. Not necessarily an ark but you get the picture.

  2. Now is the time of year to be thinking about what to grow in your garden next year! Most of the UK seed merchants supply to France. One of my favourites is Simpsons and all their lovely peppers and tomatoes make you feel lovely and warm.
    Would you be interested in a share of a seed potato order from Alan Romans in Scotland? The choice of potato varieties in France is miserable for anyone who likes King Edwards!

  3. Polly, not being English or having any first-hand knowledge of life England, I have to take your word for it that you have better potatoes over there. But I have to doubt it. Do you know how many varieties of potato there are in France? So many...

    Actually, I don't plan on growing potatoes this year.

    I don't like the idea of being so negative about the place where you have decided to live. I don't understand it. Maybe I have misunderstood. Several times when I've tried to grow seed that came from the U.K., the crops have been notable failures. I have assumed that seeds sold in the U.K. are for varieties that don't grow well in the Loire Valley soil and climate. Maybe I'm wrong about that too. I've had no luck with runner beans and no luck with chard from England. The King Edwards were the exception. Beginner's luck, probably.

    Ann, the rain continues. I've heard about the flooding in Queensland. No flooding here, so far, and we are so high up above the river valley that we have nothing to worry about.

  4. I agree with you about regretting how fast life goes by. Reading your blog helps me be mindful of each day.

    As far as months go December goes by the fastest for me, but then comes January which is slow and easy.

  5. Well, we are having the snow now, and I would probably have preferred rain! But September through November were so beautiful here, I don't think I can complain.

    I know what you mean about not wanting to watch the years fly by, but I think the only answer is to fill each day, really each minute, with awareness. That works when I can keep it up....Or long for something, like spring. It won't make you happier, but I guess it slows down time!

  6. Hello again Pollygarter, Have a look at this page to see some of the varieties of seed potatoes available from just one company in France:

    Garrigues Frères

    Evelyn, I was looking at pictures today from 2004 and realized it was already 6 years ago when you and Lewis visited Saint-Aignan for the first time. We were so young then!

    Kristi, sorry your good weather as "gone south" as they say. I agree with what you say about taking advantage of the time -- that's why we moved to France in the first place.

  7. Hi Ken,
    I don't have any luck with scarlet runner beans either. They grow to about 6 inches, and then spend the rest of the summer glaring at me.

    I'm with Ann: I think it *is* raining all over the world right now.

  8. Remember when you were working and the hours couldn't move quickly enough?

  9. Hi Chris, yes, rain... or snow. It snowed in a wide swath across France today, and it's supposed to do the same tomorrow. So far this week we are on the southern edge of the snow band and we're just getting rain.

    We tried the scarlet runner beans a few years ago. The British friend who gave us seeds raved about them. They didn't produce anything for us. The plants were beautiful, but we got only a handful of beans all summer. Another year, we grew French haricots verts and we enjoyed them (out of the freezer) for the whole winter and into spring. Same thing happened to us with Swiss chard: British seeds produced puny plants and we got almost nothing from them. French seeds a year or two earlier produced a bumper crop. Maybe it's all just coincidence, but I'm sticking with French vegetable seeds now. Oh, except for corn (maize) and collard greens, for which American seeds have produced generous crops. (Flowers seem to follow different rules.)

    And when I do grow potatoes again, I'm going to grow Charlottes, a French variety. And maybe some Agata, another French variety. Even though the British King Edwards were great this past summer.

  10. Ken, what has made you decide not to grow potatoes this year?

    We may get our first snow this coming Saturday night.

    It's cold here!


  11. Question of space in the garden, really, Judy. And the fact that I've read it's not a good idea to plant potatoes more than once every two or three years in the same soil. The patch where I grew them is the only one with loose soil instead of fairly heavy clay.

    And then, as we say, I won't plant potatoes again right away simplement pour varier les plaisirs.

    I hope you have a pretty snow and not a big dump of tons of it. And that it doesn't get too too cold. It's pouring rain here this morning, and it's supposed to snow not far north of us today: Le Mans, Chartres, Paris, etc. We hope the snow line stays north of us today.

  12. Many thanks to the link to Garrigue Freres! I've found that site before, and it's very good, full of detailed information. And according to their accueil they get some seed potatoes from the UK too. I buy most of my seeds in France, but I've got useful contacts with specialists in the UK, and there's no way of telling where the seeds originally came from. But the most consistent results I've had? Seeds from LIDL.

    Runner beans need moisture around the flowers to set seed, that's why you didn't get any beans. When it's dry, you have to be prepared to spray them at least once a day, so you really have to love them to persist. No such problem with haricots, which the English call French beans! You can really go to town if you get hooked on all those pretty colours and shapes, both of bean and flower. Valmer had a display of 83 pots of dried beans of different varieties this autumn.

  13. Well, I guess that explains the runner beans problem. I hope chrissoup reads this too. I don't remember what year it was when we tried to grow runner beans. Maybe it was a very dry one. I know some plants grow really well in some years and not at all well in others.

    I do love dried beans and that's how we used the few runner beans that we did get the year we grew them.

    Now, why didn't my Swiss chard work in 2010? We had great success with chard in previous years.

  14. Swiss chard, mmmm, bettes, beats spinach for me. Memories of our first visit to Bourgueil when all the municipal planters had big ruby chard and kale plants in them. I've always found chard to be Mr Reliable. Although last year in England we had a sort of leaf miner beastie I've not seen before, which brought the leaves out in big blisters. These turned into yellow and brown patches. The plants survived though.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?