This is not a time of year when we spend a lot of time out in the back yard. In fact, this whole year hasn't been conducive to spending time outdoors. Summer was too hot and dry, except for the cold snap we had in mid-August. Autumn was too wet. Now winter is too cold. I'm spending far too much time inside these days. Part of it is the weather, and part of it is my age. That's our back yard and our garden path in the photo on the right.
Jobs like raking up leaves are too much for me now. Tilling up the vegetable garden plot is too back-breaking. So it goes, I guess, when you're nearly 75 years old. My pollen allergies slow me down, but that's nothing new. Walt and I left California because I couldn't stand the debilitating allergy symptoms I suffered with in springtime. Now the symptoms are less severe but they are more frequent and they come on for short periods all through the year.
I still take my daily walk with the dog, but the walks are not as long as they used to be. The photo on the right is one that I took from out in the vineyard, looking north. There's fog in the Cher river valley, and fog is also enveloping the big grain silo on the other side of the valley. The tower in the background is not old. It's a modern construction and is actually a water tower. There are many water towers like it scattered all around the Loire Valley.
I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. Ours is the house in the middle of the picture on the left. It's a house that was built in the late 1960s, and it's a detached house surrounded by a bigyard and with a basement downstairs. The basement is not underground in this case. It's at ground level, where we have a garage, a utility room, a cellier where we store groceries and wines, and an entryway where there's a staircase leading up to the main level, where we have a kitchen, a living room with a dining area, a bedroom, a bathroom, a fireplace, and a sort of den or home office — not to mention a covered outdoor terrace.
On the right is a longer view of our house and our hamlet (hameau). There are nine houses in the hamlet, which is outside Saint-Aignan (two miles away). Five of the houses are occupied year-round. The other four are occupied occasionally by people who live elsewhere. One is now an Airbnb rental. We've lived here for 20 years now, and we sometimes talk about selling the place and moving into a house with no staircases, or maybe an apartment in a town where we could walk to shops and restaurants. However, we're happy living here for the time being.