04 September 2008

It's a hard rain...

Weather is the news today. There's a strong storm — whether it gets upgraded from Tropical Storm to Hurricane status remains to be seen — headed directly for the North Carolina coast. That's where my mother and my sister live, along with other family members and friends. I'll be tracking Hanna's progress and making some international phone calls today.

Today's forecast at 7:00 a.m. [Pluie] soutenue means "sustained"
or "steady" — the way the rain is supposed to fall today.

Here in Saint-Aignan, it rained almost all day Wednesday, but by 6:30 p.m. I was able to take the dog out for a good long walk. We went out to the end of the road and back. That's 3 kilometers, or about 2 miles.

Another view of this afternoon's weather pattern. Oh well...

Thursday morning we were only able to walk about 200 yards before turning back, under a light but penetrating rain. The poor dog was able to do her early-morning business, at least. Then she found a stick and turned around to take it to the back gate.

Local color

She seemed happy with that little bit of activity. She doesn't really like being out in the rain any more than I do. That means she won't be very pleased by today's weather, according to the forecast I just heard on the radio. Hard, steady rain most of the day, with winds gusting to 40 mph. Lovely.

A couple of days ago ... not so different from today.
The rain has now started at 7:50 a.m.

By afternoon yesterday the rain stopped. We went to a friend's for lunch and she had turned the heat on, since it was chilly outside. Gisèle lives on the other side of the village, in a little stone farmhouse. She has a serious green thumb, not to mention a part-time gardener to help her, so she has a beautiful property covered in flowers and flowering plants of all kinds. She also has a nice big vegetable garden and a sweet dog named Reinette.

Some tomatoes are ripening but we need sunny weather.

For lunch Gisèle made osso bucco. That's Italian and it is veal shanks slow-cooked in a sauce with carrots, tomato, orange and lemon zest, and herbs. It was delicious. As an appetizer she had shrimp and smoked salmon with black olives, butter, and bread. There was a cheese course after the veal, and then two desserts: an apple tart on a home-made pâte sablée (is that called a cookie crust?) and a big bowl of fresh raspberries with vanilla ice cream.

Grape leaves

Walt and I took two bottles of wine, because Gisèle had asked us to bring wine. She said she didn't drink much wine nowadays (she is 79) and didn't really know much about it. We took a 2005 Bordeaux red (for a change from the local wine) and a 2006 Quincy white, which is a Sauvignon Blanc from a wine village about 30 miles east of Saint-Aignan.

Amazing, aren't they?

After lunch we (there were six of us) took a walk in the woods with Gisèle's dog Reinette, a golden retriever. The sun had been shining quite a bit over the course of the afternoon so the temperature had gotten up to 60 or even 65, and it was pleasant. The woods are pretty and fresh after being washed off by our recent rains. Too bad I didn't take my camera.


  1. The grape leaves certainly are amazing. Good on you for taking the time to look and to share.
    The weather is sounding grim. An autumnal low here apparently. We have friends crossing the Channel today - don't think they are entirely looking forward to it.

  2. Having read your comments about your family being in N. Carolina, thought of your mother when I heard that the storm was heading for North Carolina. I wondered if she lived on the coast. Keep us posted.

    Those leaves are amazing!

    We certainly had la pluie soutenue alllllll day and night yesterday.


  3. We've been watching Hanna quite closely, too. Ray's brother in Norfolk says it's no big deal, but that's Norfolk, and not the NC coast. Out here on the other coast, we're so far into the drought, I barely remember what rain is like. I'm hoping to get reacquainted with it again this winter.


  4. I must echo other's thoughts - those leaves are amazing!

    I live about an hour from the NC coast and we've been having on and off rainshowers all day, totaling one inch, and we are hoping for more as we are 14" below normal rainfall this year. We're suppposed to feel the winds between midnight and dawn tomorrow. Always fun to have a big storm at night - NOT!


  5. Hannah is causing some concern for people in the Carolinas, Ken, but it isn't expected to be at hurricane force. Then, it comes right up the coast and is expected to drop rain with gusty winds on us in and around Boston.

    Norma and our family returned a week ago from a stay in Duck, North Carolina, which is part of lengthy barrier islands called the Outer Banks. Are you familiar with that part of your home state, Ken?

    The greater concern for now weather-wise is Hurricane Ike, a Category 3 storm that is bearing down on south Florida.

    I am so enjoying your posts, Ken, especially the recounting of the all-day luncheon/dinner extravaganza. It reminded me of similar outings in Normandy from my student days.

    Take care,

    Bob F

  6. I thought only our Canadian maple leaves, in the Fall, could have such a richness of colours but the grape leaves have a very special beauty.

    Hope North Carolina is not too battered by the storm.

  7. Thanks, Bob. I've been following the storm on the Internet. Later today I'll be able to call my mother and see how she fared. She lives (and I grew up) about 100 miles down the coast from there — which includes a 2½ hr. ferry ride.

    BettyAnn, I hope you are staying dry. Do you have to worry about flooding where you are?

    And Susie, I hope Mother and the brothers in Norfolk will stay dry too. This doesn't look like a dangerous storm except for the flooding possibilities.

    Keeping an eye on Ike... I have friends and relatives down in Naples, Florida.

  8. Bob, I meant to say that I don't think Duck existed as such back when I lived in N.C. Then I looked at a web site, www.outerbanks.com/duck/ and saw this sentence:

    "Located on the north end of the Banks, Duck remained undeveloped until the 1970's."

    Many places that are now big towns or resorts on the N.C. barrier islands just didn't exist until after 1970. There were no roads, just sand tracks or hard beaches that allowed 4WD vehicles to make the trip. I went to Champaign in 1971 after spending four years in Durham... and France.

  9. i love the grape pix and the glimpse of a civilized lunch in the country. orange zest, yeah.

  10. I've spent most of the last two hours reading your blog, marveling at your pictures and enjoying the quiet atmosphere implied by countryside life as you live it and/or as you tell it.

    A great adventure in words !

  11. Thanks for the ocmment, Guillaume. Ton prénom m'indiquerait que tu es soit français soit canadien. Est-ce vrai?

  12. Hi...great leaves pictures ... what's equally amazing is your sense of and eye for beauty in nature ....so love your blog ...
    Your fan from the Phil...


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