06 September 2011

The rainy season

We had the rainiest August in at least six years. We got nearly 90 mm of precipitation in the pluviomètre — that's 3½ inches. We had a wet July too, with about 2 inches of rain. So now people are saying we didn't really have a summer. What they don't seem to remember is that we had three months of warm, dry weather from the beginning of April until the first of July.

So summer came very early and we've basically had a very long autumn — or will have had, if winter doesn't come early as well. Time will tell, as we say. On verra ce qu'on verra. I talked to a neighbor yesterday as he was out in the vineyard picking walnuts from a tree along the gravel road. "They're already ripe," he pointed out. "Tout est en avance cette année." Then he proceeded to tell me that his tomatoes aren't ripening very quickly, even now in September. It's been a strange year.

It's good that this roof in Bellême is being repaired.
It's in Normandy, after all, and winter rains are not far off.

We are getting a lot of tomatoes, but the eggplants aren't producing nearly as abundantly as they have in past years. And the summer squash seem to have exhausted themselves — they are over. I have a good crop of lima beans, but the pods are still skinny, not plump. And we have sweet corn, but haven't harvested any yet. We also have quite a few of the little pumpkins called potimarrons. We got pears this year, and some peaches, but no plums or cherries. As usual, we have tons of apples.

Here's a wider view of the roofing project. All the tiles
are neatly arranged on the roof and ready to be
put back in place over new slats.

In Bellême a couple of weeks ago, we saw two guys working on a roof. The tiles used as a roofing material here in France last forever, but the wooden slats underneath, which they hang on, need to be replaced periodically. We've seen it done here in our hamlet, where part of a neighbor's roof had to be redone a few years ago. The roofers carefully take off all the tiles and stack them on the ground. Then they replace the wooden slats. Finally, they clean up the old tiles with a wire brush and put them back on. It's all very neat and nothing is wasted.

The kid working on the roof called his co-worker out
to see the crazy tourists taking pictures of their work.

By the way, I often joke with our friend Marie in Normandy about the rainy weather up there. It's rainy here in the Loire Valley too, but maybe a little less than in green, green, green Normandy, from Cherbourg to Dieppe, including Bayeux, Caen, Rouen, and Alençon.

The four seasons as they are enjoyed in Normandy.

In the southernmost part of Normandy, where we went on vacation, is the town of Alençon, which is famous for lace, apples, Calvados apple brandy, and rain. Somebody up there has a sense of humor about the climate. See the photo of my new mouse pad, above.


  1. The weather for our two weeks' holiday this August was very similar to 2007. Alternately very hot then cool and rainy. I remember it well because we first saw our little house in lovely sunshine, then we had to go out and buy raincoats !!

  2. Melbourne had it's warmest on record this year, Melbourne has 4 seasons in one day like Normandy and Alencon was a town we stayed at because we didnt like the room we booked at LeMans. I like this post coz it reminds me of many things. And love the pics.

  3. Wow, that is really an interesting shot of the roofing work being done. It's hard to imagine getting all of those tiles back in place!

  4. Love the new banner, but miss those three mecs from a few days ago.
    Has it been two weeks since we were in Belleme? I'm still bathed in trip glow and hope it lasts.
    Speaking of rain-Between midnight and 8 p.m., the Birmingham Shuttlesworth-International Airport yesterday received 6.69 inches of rain! DD is flying today on a trip to Jackson Hole. It's still raining in a scary way this morning.
    Hoping for some sunshine here, I'm beginning to think we're in Normandy;)

  5. Lovely new banner photograph. Our walnuts are ripe too. I checked when we collected last year and it definitely was later.
    Looking up at our barn roof from the inside it's amazing to see how each tile is neatly 'hooked' onto the slat.

  6. That re-roofing project must very expensive as well as time consuming. What happens if it rains while they've got the tiles off?

  7. Have just found your wonderful blog and hope to follow it. I work with a Frenchwoman and will show her the picture of your mousepad!

    By the way, we had a bad tomato year here in Kansas, too! And our green beans are only just now ripening!

  8. Here in the SF Bay area, we have OK tomatoes, no plums, and the beans and zuchs quit two weeks early (I was surprised). Kale continues to be prolific and dependable. Maybe we'll just live on kale.

  9. People have short memories everywhere. I would have gladly enjoyed your 3 wonderful months of pretty weather last spring when Seattle was still rainy and chilly. I laughed when I saw that postcard at the end of your story. They sell the same one at Pike Place Market (it says "Seattle" instead of "Normandy". of course.) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  10. To French Girl in Seattle :

    The nice Tourist Office lady who gave us the address of the good brasserie where we had lunch together told us that the French authors of the humorous postcards, mouse pads, mugs, calendars, etc. were very successful and had launched the same kind of items with the names of other cities, even abroad, thus, they may be the authors of the cards you can find in Seattle...



  11. Here is the link to Heula web site, enjoy :-)



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