14 March 2013

Dead wood

There's an expression that has a different meaning in my vocabulary today compared to years ago when I worked in academia. In the vineyard, the dead wood is pulled up or cut down, and then hauled away for burning or ground up into mulch. It doesn't have tenure.

One thing is for sure: we are going to have a late spring. Last year, March was warm and sunny. April and May were warm and rainy. This year, March couldn't be more different. It's been cold and is still cold. The northern part of France — well north of Saint-Aignan — has been snowbound for a few days now. Drifts have covered the roads. Hundreds or thousands of big-rig trucks were immobilized on the main highways up there yesterday and the day before.

Down south, the cold Mistral wind that blows south off the Alps to the Mediterranean coast is predicted to sweep down at 80 mph this afternoon. I can do without that. And it snowed in Toulouse yesterday as well. Here in the center of the country, we got a lot of rain and our low temperatures have been just below freezing for a day or two now. Afternoon temperatures aren't much higher. Otherwise, it's just gray and damp and chilly. Complain? Me?

Our neighbor who's disabled with MS has not returned to his house. Who knows if he will one day. Our neighbors who spend the winter in Blois haven't come down here more than once this month, for an hour or two. Our neighbors who have residences in the Paris region are up there, not down here. One house in the hamlet is for sale and another is hardly ever occupied at all, even in summer, but the people who own it don't seem to want to let go of the place.

That leaves us, the neighbors across the road (a 92-year-old woman and her daughter), and our neighbor the mayor and her retired husband. We see their cars go by a couple of times a day, but that's about it. And now that they are filling in potholes out on the gravel road through the vineyard, we don't even see vineyard workers. The road is closed — Route Barrée, the sign says. The winery crews must be pruning vines on other vineyard plots around the Saint-Aignan area.

I'm off for my semi-annual visit with the doctor this morning, in preparation for my trip to North Carolina in early April. Don't want to run out of pills... Next week, I'll need to go see Madame Barbier for the quarterly haircut. I want to be presentable enough to get through security at Roissy and immigration and customs in Charlotte. I'd like to get some tilling and trimming done out in the vegetable garden before I leave, but the ground is too wet and the air is too cold. March. Phooey.


  1. I'm with you on the weather, Ken...
    I've about three dozen trees to plant in the meadow... and another 30 to dig up and move... but can't work in the meadow... too sodden.

    Managed yesterday to get the next 14 by 3 metre bed ready for ploughing tho'... but that is still too wet to get the machine on... and some potatoes want to go!! We might have to pot those to slow them down.

    We were sunny yesterday and have started so today... have a nice day!

  2. We had lots of dead wood in the corporate world during my working years.
    Glad to hear that your old sick neighbour is being cared for elsewhere.
    Soon your hamlet will be filled with new neighbours once the houses are sold.

  3. Phooey indeed! Somehow it seems colder now than earlier in the year, and I'm never going to get any veg in.

  4. now that I am a North Carolinian for good, I have very few neighbors at the lake during the off season (which is anytime other than summer)...You are seeing more activity than I am

  5. Melinda, I'm trying to remember if you have N.C. roots. Are you close to Blowing Rock? Or Asheville?

    By the way, it's snowing here right now!

  6. I had to chuckle at the idea of a quarterly haircut - your hairdresser will not get rich like that !!

  7. Oh the weather outside is frightful....

  8. No, Jean, especially since Mme Barbier charges just 11€ for the clipping.

    Our snow today didn't amount to anything. The clouds blew on by and I had a nice sunny but chilly walk with Callie late in the afternoon. We played with the donkeys, or at least I did. Callie kept her distance.

  9. Ken......my family bought this house in the 60's and I have been coming to this same lake since I was 10 and going to a camp down the lake...my parents rented a house until they could find one to buy...it is between Hendersonville and Saluda (south of Asheville and near the SC border)...I have been spending 3-4 months here in the last few yrs, but my husband had to remain in richmond to work (as a nurse) Now he can retire and we have sold our richmond house (closing may 1) much sooner than we expected....so we are thrilled.....its 2 hrs from Charlotte, and I know you're heading the other way, but we have lots of extra beds if you ever need! House was built in 1923 and was always a summer house, and we have put in heat for the first time (thankfully as it has been a bit nippy) My husband grew up coming to Waynesville so we are both very much at home in your state.

  10. Hi Melinda, I don't know that part of NC well, but I had a friend in college who was from Forest City and I went there a time or two. I also had a friend from the coast who relocated to Brevard. He may still live there. He became a potter, I remember.

    I'll be changing planes in Charlotte in a couple of weeks. And then a week later with my mother and sister I'll be spending two or three days in Rock Hill and York, SC, where my mother's family came from. It sounds like your place on that lake must be pretty. Good for you to have made the move.


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