In 2002 and then in 2003, I had three occasions to visit the house we ended up buying in France. Walt and I had first seen it on Dec. 10, 2002, and then again on December 12, that time because we liked it and were seriously considering whether we might buy it. The price was very low compared to San Francisco Bay Area house prices. While we were seeing the house on December 12, I took a lot of photos. After the visit was over, the realtor we were working with told us he had asked the people in his office draw up the document that is called un compromis de vente — an offer letter — for us to sign.
I told him we weren't sure we were ready to sign any papers at that point. His reply to that was: you are going back to California in a few days. If you don't sign the paper now, when will you sign it? That was a good point. And then he said: when you are back in California, either send me a check for the down payment, or write me a letter to say you've changed your mind. What did we have to lose?
Back in California, we decided to send the money. It was a lot of cash in one sense, but not enough to radically alter the course of our lives if we changed our minds and forfeited the down payment. Once we had paid it, we thought it through and decided we'd better put our San Francisco house on the market to see what we could get for it, and whether that would be enough to finance the purchase of the Saint-Aignan house while leaving us sufficient funds to live on for a few years.
At that point, we needed to know what furniture we would want to have shipped to France if and when we actually relocated ourselves. So poor me, I needed to travel to France one more time — it's an 11-hour flight, but remember, I was unemployed while Walt was still working — to go inspect the house again and measure the rooms. We needed to figure out if our SF furniture would fit. Pieces that wouldn't fit would need to be sold or given away.
While I was in the Saint-Aignan house, measuring the rooms, I left all the shutters closed. It took too long to open and then close them all. I didn't want to be late for a scheduled appointment with the notaire who was handling the legal aspects of the sale. My measuring done, I pulled the front door open and was surprised to see that it had started snowing. It had been sunny when I arrived less than an hour earlier (see the photo above). So you can see what the yard looked like as a light snow fell. Snow was exciting for us back then because we had been living in the San Francisco Bay area where snow is a very rare occurrence.
By the way, the weather is completely different from that this morning. It's about 55ºF and raining outside this morning. News reports is that fruit trees around the country have started setting flower buds because of the very mild weather we've had so far this winter.