25 February 2011

Gray, and then rain, but green

I don't have a lot to blog about today, so I'll talk about the weather again. We all do it. 'Tis the season.

I kind of like the weather maps that they have on the France 2 television web site. Here's the forecast. On the left, you have today's afternoon weather. On the right, it's the forecast for tomorrow morning. Rain is coming in. Mais rien de bien méchant — just showers. I put Tours and Paris on the map for reference.

Gray today, gray and damp tomorrow
(those are centigrade temperatures of course)

Meanwhile, the pond out back has been overflowing, as I've said. Again, nothing very serious, but the pond is really full. A day or two I saw a couple of toads swimming in it. It's nearly the toad breeding season. They come in from all around the vineyard and hamlet to do what they do at this time of year. Toads here are a harbinger of spring, and the last gasp of winter.

The overflowing pond by the vines

In some years there are hundreds of toads all up and down the road and in our back yard this time of year. Callie loves to chase them. They are not the most attractive animals on the planet, however, and I really don't want the dog to catch one. I hope that toads smell or taste bad to a border collie.

Our pond will soon be full of brown toads

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area where we used to live, and where we still have a lot of friends, is getting the really cold weather right now. Temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing possibly right down to sea level — that's a rare event out there, except at high altitudes. It might snow this weekend in SF and in Silicon Valley, they say.

We haven't had a hard freeze in weeks and weeks
here in Saint-Aignan.

I remember that back in 1990 we had a very sharp cold snap in San Francisco. Walt and I lived in a top floor apartment on Gough Street near Sutter, and we had a skylight in the bathroom that wasn't at all airtight. It got so cold outside that December that even with the heat up full blast we couldn't get the temperature in the apartment above about 55ºF.

The worst thing was that the temperature went below freezing, and a lot of beautiful succulent plants and trees were killed. We had been out there for three or four years already, and we were used to being able to leave potted plants outside on the balcony year-round. Many froze, as did a lot of beautiful old plants in people's yards and gardens.

It's been really wet, however, and
we could use some sunshine.

Anyway, it's all what you are used to and prepared for. Temperatures just a few degrees below freezing don't seem like a big deal in most places, including Saint-Aignan, but in other places, where freezes are so few and far between, nobody is really prepared for the consequences. Oh well, it's not an earthquake at least.


  1. Is that pond entirely fenced in? I would have a hard time keeping my dog out of such a tempting swimming hole, toads and all.

  2. Yesterday the sun came out in Derbyshire and the temperature got up to 15°C. It was a beautiful spring day. This morning it is grey again but there are a few breaks in the clouds so I'm hoping for more sun later.
    Anything, absolutely anything is better than snow.

  3. In the southern Oceania region we have had amazing natural phenomena. In Australia terrible floods and fires and in New Zealand the tragic earthquake in Christchurch. And in my home town of Perth we have had 10 days of temperatures between 24 at night and 37 during the day...I wish for your climate right now!

  4. Here, in the desert of SoCal, the temperatures are, right now, well below normal for this time of year. For the last month or so, it's been like a yo-yo, up and down, up and down! Our permanent feature, except at night of course, the sun is there to warm us up, but "le fond de l'air" is cool. I just hope I'll survive! Spring is around the corner! Which corner?

  5. Can't resit the new verification word with an interesting spelling:
    How do you like that?

  6. We are supposed to have rain over night with maybe snow down to 500 feet. A system coming from the Yukon is bringing very cold temperatures, but it should be clearing for the Academy awards. I think it is exciting as we really never have "weather", particularly on the coast.

  7. I hope Callie isn't as attracted to toads as much as my dog, Jean-Luc. He liked to lick them and that caused him to foam at the mouth. If that happens to Callie, keep wiping it off and encourage her to drink lots of water.


  8. I like toad season here, but I think the ticks will be hatching in early April. Ah Spring!

    Looking forward to the Academy Awards, Nadege.

  9. Speaking of the Academy Awards, the 36th Cérémonie des César takes place tonight in Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet. American francophone Jodie Foster will be hosting. As much as I study, work with tutors, and read en français I'm sure I'd never be able to pull off something like that.
    She's really amazing and a great inspiration to all who dream of mastering the French language.

  10. Ken, thank you for the link to buy cans of cod liver. Since you are very knowledgeable at computers, I would like to know why when I look at "live traffic feed", sometimes it is written that I log in from Hermosa Beach (the city next to mine) but right now, it is from Ontario even though I haven't moved. It did it last year, then went back to Hermosa, but now again, it is Ontario (Ca).

  11. As I sit here in my shorts and T-shirt typing this, the current temp is 28°

  12. Indeed, the forecast is for snow at very low elevations in the San Francisco Bay area... and we have had an earthquake! Around midnight last night, the epicenter in the ocean off Half Moon Bay... just 3.4 magnitude, though, so only the dog awoke.

  13. Last night we had a few inches of snow, that was on top of the eight to nine inches we got last Monday. I spoke to some one who lives west of the western reserve and he said they were having a blizzard down there. This weekend the forecast is for flurries and Monday's high could be 45 deg F. This is the time of year when great extremes in weather jostle back and forth make us long for warmth.

  14. We drove to Auburn in the gold country early this morning in drenching rain, nearly flooded streets, and two inches of snow when we arrived. We drove home 5 hours later in sunshine!

  15. Meredith, yes, the pond is fenced in. But then Callie is a collie, and they are not really water dogs. She's not tempted.

    Jean, good for your weather. Looks like we'll be having a decent week here.

    Louise, I wouldn't be able to stand that heat. I wonder if people there have air-conditioned houses.

    CHM, don't get sunburned! En Phrance, la vie est belle.

    Nadège, I know what you mean about the lack of "weather" on the Calif. coast. I found that part boring.

    BettyAnn, I don't know if Callie thinks toads taste bad. There are more and more of them out there every day now. I'll keep an eye on Callie and see if I can tell what she thinks of them.

    Evelyn, well, thanks for reminding me of tick season! We've started Frontlining the dog and the cat now, for that happy season. And by the way, we have had an invasion of stinkbugs here over the past few weeks. I found another one this morning and flung it out the window.

    Dean, yes, Jodie Foster is amazing. She went to a Lycée français in the U.S. when she was growing up, so her French is very good.

    Starman, enjoy it now. Soon you will be baking in heat and steaming in humidity. And talk about bugs!

    Ellen, glad it wasn't a bad earthquake.

    Chris, our friend Sue in Auburn told me it has snowed twice there over the past week or so.


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