23 November 2013

Un rayon de soleil

There's a water tower, what in French is called un château d'eau, on the other side of the Cher River from us, up on the highlands on the north bank. You can see why they call it a château. It looks like it could be one, or at least the main tower of a castle. It's especially striking when fog has settled in the river valley on a chilly but sunny morning.

Now these photos are more than a week old. The weather hasn't cooperated with the photographer much since he took them. (He is I.) The mornings are dark — too dark for taking photos — because of the late sunrise at this time of year, and because of foggy weather. I'd wait to go out later but Callie wants to go at eight o'clock. Later in the morning, I'm busy in the kitchen anyway.

The sun will rise at 8:10 this morning. Skies are supposed to be overcast until late in the afternoon. Tomorrow and Monday look sunnier. Yesterday I was at the supermarket, waiting in line for a long time to get checked out as one item after another that shoppers ahead of me had chosen wouldn't scan. Price checks always really slow everything down.

The woman immediately ahead of me had put two liters of some special low-lactose milk in her cart, and each liter scanned at 10.50 euros. That couldn't be right, she said (it would be $14 for a quart of milk!). The cashier called several people on the telephone, waited a while, and finally, getting no help, she had to leave the register and go somewhere toward the back of the store to find the correct price. In all, it took 10 or 15 minutes, as I just stood there waiting to get my ten measly items scanned, paid for, and put in the bag. Interminable.

It's always like that in this particular supermarket, I kept thinking. Why do I bother coming to shop here? Finally, the cashier came back to her register and said she had found the correct price: €3.50 per liter. C'est trop cher, the customer said. I don't want the milk after all. My baby will have to drink regular milk like the rest of us do. So we had waited 15 minutes for what? Nothing? Oh well, that's life, I guess.

Oh, I forgot the point of my story. The young woman at the cash register finally came to my purchases, and she said she hoped she wouldn't continue having problems getting items to scan. I smiled at her and said I hoped so too. I wasn't her fault, after all. As she scanned my first item, she suddenly turned her head and looked out toward the parking lot. Regardez, she said, mesmerized. Un rayon de soleil ! She was right. The sun had broken through the morning low clouds. We were all happy about that.


  1. The first image is lovely, with the water tower floating above the fog. The last image is interesting, with the clear change between two parcels of grapes. Your story was fun too -- I hope the sun made up for the woman who obviously can't read prices on shelves in the first place.

  2. Second Susan's comments...
    but was the price on the shelf?
    So often it isn't...
    especially with strange lines...
    or isn't obvious because items were moved as the shelf was restocked...
    and the label is no longer with the goods!!

  3. I agree, that first picture is brilliant.
    It's a good job the young woman noticed the price error, I'm not sure we would have until afterwards, when it would probably be too late. We often get a bit flustered at checkouts, struggling with the language if any questions are asked.
    Waiting such a long time for nothing is so frustrating. A similar thing happened to me yesterday. I fought my way through the traffic into the middle of town to collect an undelivered parcel from the main post office, only to find the queue was out of the door and all the way round two sides of the building. I couldn't wait that long so gave up and came home, having wasted an hour for nothing.

  4. I've lived places where everything stops because a ray of sun is spotted. In Palm Springs, everything came to a halt if someone saw a rain drop. What joy.

    That photo of the château d'eau is magical. And I love the words "château d'eau." A great name for a cottage!

  5. Jean, that is really frustrating. I don't know how many times I've driven a long distance to go to a particular shop or store here in Touraine, only to be greeted by a 'fermeture exceptionnelle' sign or some such. I've learned to pick up the phone before I pick up my car keys. Of course, in your situation, you didn't have that option.

    Tim, I think in this case there was a price posted for a 4-pack of milk, but the customer took just 2 bottles. I bet it was 10+ euros for the 4-pack. But that price came up for each liter at the caisse.

    Susan, it really did take about 15 minutes for the situation to be resolved. People behind me left for other caisses, but as I had already put all my items on the tapis roulant, I just waited. The caissière seemed fairly spacey, anyway.

  6. Well, Ken, we all love that
    tower photo...your next header
    perhaps? I always resort to
    reading the gossip magazines
    at the checkout stand when
    caught like that. Helps to keep
    the blood pressure down.

  7. I remember that in San Francisco the first rain of autumn, after six months with no rain at all, would knock of power all around the region. Whole neighborhoods and towns would be without electricity for 12 to 24 hours. I never understood why a light rain could cause those power failures. I also remember once on the weather report in SF the presenter got all breathless because there had been thunder out in the Central Valley. He said he had called his mother, who lived out there, and she had reported that she was fine. Like thunder can kill or maim...

  8. Sheila, if there are magazines at the checkout stands in French supermarkets, I've never noticed them...

  9. Holy cow... the woman's baby needs low-lactose milk, but she's going to make her drink what everyone else drinks. I wonder if she had anything else in her cart that she could have done without... cigs? wine? beer? dessert?

  10. Judy, I didn't really pay attention to what the woman was buying, but I do remember that her total was about 105 euros. Mine was less than 30, and was only so high because I bought 3 bottles of Beajolais Nouveau (@ about four euros a bottle). We enjoyed the first one and are saving the other two for Thanksgiving and its aftermath...

  11. I have friends in Switzerland with whom I visited one Christmas. After 10 days of cloudy, gloomy weather , while we were eating breakfast the sun came out and it was glorious. "Quick, quick, get dressed. We are going to the mountain" said our host. Quick, quick we dresed. We got to the mountain, (along with the rest of the population of the area) and it was wonderful. The views were beautiful and far reaching, the sun felt warm, everyone was excited and happy. It only lasted about an hour, but it was great.

  12. Icechip, that does sound like a special moment. I remember the first time, after several gloomy trips, that I saw the sun come out in Seattle. Looking west, there were big mountains! Beautiful. Who knew? Usually they were invisible.


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