Sunday, February 25, 2018


We're bracing for bracing weather. The news and weather people have been warning us of a frigid Siberian air mass heading our way for the past few days now. And tomorrow's the day! There's not a lot for us to do, actually. We've covered (and re-covered) our little fig tree. Everything else is on its own.

The annual winter taming of the grape vines is under way.

Meanwhile, pruning continues in the vineyards around us. More and more vine rows get done with each passing day. The cut canes get lined up between the rows and will be ground into mulch in the coming spring. Growers used to burn them as they cut them, but I think that practice has gone out of favor in the interest of air quality.

The remaining single canes will eventually be bent to the horizontal and attached to the guide wires. New growth will push skyward from the buds on that cane. And then the vineyards will be green again! But we have a couple of months of brown to get through yet.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


It hasn't been as cold as predicted. Yet. The big chill will supposedly descend upon us in the middle of next week. The cold air will be pushed in from Siberia and Moscow. Russia may be meddling with our weather.

Certain stones cause ice to form around them in interesting patterns.

That's not to say it hasn't been cold. Morning lows are at or just below freezing, giving us iced-over puddles and not-so-muddy morning walks. And there is sunshine and very little wind, so it feels much nicer outdoors than it could. But next week we're told to expect -5 and -6ºC (23 and 21ºF, respectively). Not all that cold for you winter climate folks, but pretty darned cold for us here. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A one year old dog

Today is Tasha's birthday. Her full name, as you may know, is Natasha of the Wolves of Isengard. We made it through the first year, puppyhood, pretty much unscathed. I think she's just about hit her adult size. And even though she still has more to learn, she's come a long way. House training went relatively quickly (although it never seems so while you're doing it). She accepts her harness and leash with no fuss. She's behaving very well off-leash. She gets along well with Bert the cat. She's waiting longer and longer each morning before wanting to go outside. And she loves riding in the car.

Happy birthday Tasha!

I made a grooming appointment for her this coming Tuesday. With all the muddy weather we've had since the first of the year, she really needs a good bath. And she needs to get brushed out well. One problem we have is something that the breeder warned us about: the fur behind a Shetland's ears mats very easily. And lo, Tasha has a big knot of fur behind each of her ears. I will need to be especially vigilant and brush behind her ears every day from Tuesday forward to help keep the fur from matting again.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Rise and shine

One reason for the chilly weather we're getting, aside from the provenance of the cold air, is the fact that the skies are currently clear. That lack of an insulating cloud cover allows more ground heat to dissipate, resulting in cooler morning low temperatures. It also gives us a chance to see the sun.

Clouds and fog typically form at sunrise after a clear, cold night.

I haven't really been paying attention to the winter Olympics this time around. I hear reports and updates and "medal counts" on the news (Gus Kenworthy! Adam Rippon! Bobsled team uniforms! Curling doping scandal -- wtf?) but the games themselves haven't really caught my interest. It'll all be over soon.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Cold air from the north is blowing in over France this week. The grass is frosty this morning, but it's still above zero. I might have to get out there today and re-cover the fig tree to try to protect it from the freezing temperatures that are predicted for the coming mornings. I had to take the cover off the tree when it snowed because the snow was too wet and heavy for it. I don't think there's any snow in the immediate forecast.

The front and roof are clad in corrugated steel, and those big metal-clad doors are bolted shut.

This is a view of the storage building out in the vineyard parcel behind our house. In the fifteen years that we've lived here, I'm not sure if I've ever seen the doors open. Whatever is inside has not seen the light of day for a long while.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Valley fog

Yesterday's photo looked west over the vineyard with the river at my back. Today's photo is the reverse. From out among the vines, I'm looking back toward the northeast. The river valley, just beyond our hamlet, is filled with fog.

At sunrise on Sunday, the river valley was filled with fog.

Everything is still wet, wet, wet. It's not raining hard, it's just raining almost constantly. The trees drip, the ground is spongy, the slippery mud is treacherous. And now there are freezing temperatures in the forecast for the upcoming week. Which is worse? Warm and wet, or cold and icy? Not that we will have much of a choice in the matter.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Misty morning

When the chilly night air meets the ground-level humidity, water vapor condenses and forms fog. The river valley was completely socked in on Sunday morning and fog came and went out in the rain-drenched vineyards.

A layer of ground fog in the Sunday morning vineyard.

I noticed on Sunday that our rhubarb plants are starting to poke up through the ground. There are flower buds on the plum tree out back. The tulips are up and some of the daffodils have flowers already. And I can see yellow blossoms getting ready to open on the forsythia. I think our warm January has given the spring growth a head start. A freeze in the coming weeks would probably do some damage. Fortunately, the grape vines are not budding yet.