11 January 2012

Winter continues...

...to be autumn in northern France. That's what people are saying. We haven't yet had any cold weather. Not one morning has seen temperatures below freezing, and only one or two have given us a little bit of frost. Winter is too timid.

Now, the fog has come back. That's the weather we get when there's a high pressure system dominating the weather. La grisaille est plaquée au sol, they say. I guess it's some kind of inversion. And it's better to have thick fog than strong winds.

Yesterday on La Route Touristique du Vignoble, where
I sometimes walk with Callie in the morning

Right now, and for the last day or two, France is divided in half, north vs. south. Saint-Aignan is right on the dividing line, as usual. The northern part of the country is foggy and gray, with little difference between morning lows and afternoon highs (both in the high 40s to low 50s F). The southern part is having cold mornings, and sunny warm afternoons.

The pond out back hasn't frozen over even once this year.

This morning, the temperature in Toulouse is –1ºC, while at our house outside Saint-Aignan it's +6. In other words, it's more than 10 degrees F warmer here that it is a few hundred miles south.

Callie at the edge of the vineyard in fog yesterday.

Health authorities are reporting outbreaks of bronchial infections and gastroenteritis that they are attributing to damp conditions unusually mild temperatures. Actually, I'm still suffering aftereffects — a dry cough, and stuffed-up sinuses — from the cold I had at Christmastime. There's no outbreak of flu, however. They say it's not cold enough for that.

Vines, evergreens, and poplar trees at 9:00 a.m. yesterday

We still have flowers in the yard and in the vineyard. And we still have bugs. It's not cold enough to kill them or make them go dormant, so they come into the house. Yesterday I put a live bee outside. Flies buzz around my desk lamp in the morning. And I keep finding punaises — stinkbugs — up in the loft. Two or three a day.

They are promising us colder weather by the weekend, and I hope they are right.

P.S. 8:45 a.m. When dawn finally broke this morning, I was surprised to see a pretty sunrise rather than yesterday's gloom. The fog/no fog line has moved slightly north. I can see the fog bank to the north when I look out the loft window that faces toward Blois. So it's sunny again. I'll take it.


  1. So true about winter continuing as autumn - we've barely had a handful of frosts and no deep frost at all. The Japanese quince is flowering - it flowered in April last year. Nothing knows what to do. Some of my plants think it's still autumn and are waiting for a freeze, and some think they missed a bit and are waking up for spring. Very strange!

  2. There is a ground frost here this morning... air temperature 0.9C. Dry and sunny. Pimpernels are out, there is a Deptford Pink [summer] in flower on the front lawn and Niall and Antoinette [Chez Charnizay] gave us a scarlet Cowslip from their garden last year which is trying to flower again now [so it is the cold-frame for that at the moment] and the pussy-willow is coming out.

  3. Hi Tim, by the way, I don't see any berries on my mistletoe. We have snowdrops and bellflowers blooming, and we still have a rose or two.

    Ladyjustine, it's mass confusion, garden-side. Oh well. We had a warm winter in 2007 too. And then no summer to speak of.

  4. Roses were still in bloom on Dec 28 in Brittany, according to photos we received. Hellebores also, but this is their usual bloom time.

    I remember one very mild winter here followed by the buggiest summer I ever remember. So I hope you get some freezing weather to to kill off some bugs.

    It feels odd to be wishing cold weather on somebody.

  5. speaking of bugs, fleas are still around.....i had to treat my cats since there havent been enough hard freezes to kill off the darn fleas....i guess there r french fleas too (les puces?)

  6. Same confusion here--daffs are shooting up as you watch and budding; booted out 2 drowsy queen wasps and we find the odd stink bug too.
    @Tim - nice to hear the scarlet cowslip is doing well.
    Enjoying today's sun though :-)

  7. We're still talking football here in Alabama where our two teams have been national champs 3 years in a row, but the weather is almost as interesting.

    Lenten roses and daffodils are blooming about a month ahead of schedule. We have had a hard frost though. Some foggy weather, but not as much as you've had.

  8. Mild winter here -only (-14C) this morning and the snow removal guys are happy : no big winter storms so far but big pot holes with the fluctuating temperatures.

  9. "Winter is too timid." There's no such thing.

  10. I don't mind the mild weather - it's so much better than the tons of snow we had last year - but it does feel wierd, not right somehow. I like it but hope it doesn't mean we'll pay for it in some way later in the year.
    There were midges over our pond the other day and we still have a single rose in flower.

  11. Besides bronchial infections and gastroenteritis attacks, another affliction is being blamed on the mild weather: pollen allergies. I'm suffering from those. The cold I had just mutated into what I think is allergy symptoms: a dry cough, scratchy eyes, and stuffed-up sinuses. It's miserable.

  12. Melinda, in past years we've stopped putting Frontline on Bertie and Callie in December, for the winter. But this year we have continued to treat them. We captured two more stinkbugs in the loft this evening. Obnoxious creatures they are.

    Beaver, are you kidding about minus 14? That makes it 25 degrees Celsius colder there than here.

    Sorry, Starman, but it this case there is. We need cold weather now. As I type I cough and sneeze from pollen allergies.


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