The darkest days are upon us. The good news is that one week from today the hours of sunlight — or at least daylight — will start to lengthen. Our sunrise today will happen at 8:35 a.m., and sunset at 5:05 p.m. It's chilly here, but not quite freezing. And skies are gray.
On the other hand, I just checked the weather for my home town on the Carolina coast, where the temperature is much warmer (17ºC). To my dismay, I see that the whole area from Savannah, Georgia, north to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina — nearly 1000 km of coastline — is under a tornado watch right now. At least we don't have that threat hanging over our heads in Saint-Aignan.
The bread lady on her morning rounds
The photo above shows what our hamlet in the vineyard looks like on a December morning at sunrise. If you click to image to enlarge it, you'll see a car with its headlights shining just behind our house. That's the bread lady, who delivers baguettes and croissants to us four days a week. In the photo she has come to the end of the paved road and is getting ready to turn around to go back down the hill.
Winter sunrise over the Renaudière vineyard
We buy what we want from the porteuse de pain ("bread-carrying lady"). There's no formal standing order, although we do get a fresh baguette every time she drives up. She knows which bread we prefer. If we are going to be away from home, we leave a plastic bread bag hanging on our front gate, with a euro coin in the bottom. She gets out of her car, takes the coin, and leaves our baguette. She also has cheese, milk, eggs, and other grocery staples for sale from the back of her van.
I don't know if that's smoke or fog over the river between us and the château d'eau on the other side.
Sundays are the hardest days for dog-walking at this time of year. The sun comes up at 8:30 or later in the morning. If the sky is cloudy, it's very dark until about that time. And then the hunters show up at 9:00 a.m. They only hunt on Sundays and holidays out in the vineyard, from nine to noon and from two to about six. But that means we have to squeeze in a morning walk between, say, 8:15 and 9:00, so that we won't be out there when the shooting starts.
Can you tell what's missing from this photo?
Well, it's my morning to go out on the promenade du matin avec Callie. I do have to wait for the day to dawn, but I need to start getting ready. For lunch today, we're going to have baked fish fillets, Brussels sprouts, and home-made "rice-a-roni" — un riz libanais aux vermicelles, or Lebanese-style vermicelli rice. More about all that later. Bon dimanche.