Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ripeining on the vine

The grapes are getting closer to harvest. The growers have to gauge the timing based on the sugar content of the grapes vs. the weather. From my extensive research quick glance at the internet, I understand that the earliest date that harvesting can begin for AOC varietals is set administratively in each département. It's normally about 100 days from flowering, but can vary based on weather and other conditions. After that date, each individual grower can decide the best time to harvest his/her grapes.

Sauvignon blanc on the vine about a week ago. There's just a tinge of gold on some of these grapes. Can you see it?

My untrained eye sees that the red grapes are close (and very sweet), and the sauvignon (white) grapes are beginning to get that golden look that they get when they're ready. The forecast for the next few days is dry and sunny, so that should help move things along nicely. Of course, it's all about the sugar content. The next week will be interesting.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The beginning of the end

It seems that, with September 1, the weather changed and summer is on the way out. I'm hopeful that we'll still have some nice weather through September and into October, but I can definitely feel a change. The mornings and evenings are darker. There's the hint of a chill in the air.

Spent rose blossoms in a neighbor's garden.

The vines and trees are still green. It still looks like summer outside. Grape harvesting hasn't started yet. We have a lot of tomatoes and are still getting zucchini from the garden. The daily question remains: how will we eat zucchini today? Ken made a great ratatouille on Tuesday, and that used up some. And now I need to get started on picking up the fallen apples. It is time.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

La rentrée scolaire

Today is the day that most kids go back to school in France. On Monday, I went out to the grocery store and noticed that the summer traffic (especially to the zoo) was mostly gone. The supermarket's parking lot was not full, and there were no lines at the checkout stand. The summer vacation season has come to a close.

All those jet trails are coming from up north, where Paris is.

A rain system moved in and it's been wet most of the night. There was some thunder and lightning last evening, but nothing serious. And this morning is much cooler than it has been. We got 31mm (1.2 inches) of rain over night.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Walk this way

A few times a year, an association in our town sponsors a randonnée (walk or hike) to raise money or to just offer some social exercise for residents. The route of the walk will often come by our house on the way out through the vineyards. The path is marked on the ground with chalk arrows like this one that's currently on the road near our back gate.

Rain will eventually wash away the chalk arrows.

August is ending in style with very warm days and mild nights. We're expecting a little rain and maybe some thunder activity later this afternoon, then a cool-down.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

It won't be long

I don't know when the grape harvest will get underway. It will depend largely on what the weather does in the coming weeks. I've heard or read (although I don't remember where) that mid-September is likely. Last year, harvesting started around the nineteenth of September.

The grape leaves are still summer green.

Hunting season for game birds and wild hares doesn't start in our town until mid-October this year. But there may be organized hunts for foxes and roe deer before then.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What's on tv

This is it. Vacations are over and people are going back to school and to work. And the US Open tennis tournament starts up on Monday. You know what I'll be watching.

What NOT to watch this week. Our tv magazine rates shows and movies using a star system: one star is ok, four stars is best. They use another symbol for really bad movies: the red dot. It means "à zapper" (change the channel!). The editors often include comments about the movie that make me laugh.

The Germans don't get off without a zap. It might be worth a watch just to see Mr. Wiesinger up there, but probably not (a German-language film dubbed into French).

A la poursite de la lance sacrée (In Search of the Sacred Spear). German made-for-tv movie. Directed by Florian Baxmeyer, 2010.
With Kai Wiesinger and Fabian Busch.
An archaeologist searches for his mentor who disappeared while searching for the spear that supposedly pierced the body of Christ.
This movie wants to be another "Raiders of the Lost Ark" but has none of the elements that made its model a success.
For adults and teenagers.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Don't get saucy with me

I picked a lot of tomatoes on Wednesday. And many of them are the biggest cœur de bœuf (beef heart) tomatoes I've ever grown. I swear that one was the size of an American softball. About two-thirds of the tomatoes I picked were ripe and over-ripe, some are just right, and others, which had fallen in the storm, are green. Those should ripen on the shelf in a few days.

Fresh garden tomatoes trimmed and in the pot.

I had to do something with the ripe and over-ripe tomatoes, so into the sauce pot they went. There are still some nice ripe ones left for eating in the next days, not to mention what's still in the garden. And there are plenty in the garden, so we should have a good amount of sauce for the freezer this year.

This is a ten-liter pot (10.5 US quarts) filled to the brim.

When we first started growing tomatoes, we decided to can the sauce. That worked well, but it was a lot of work. Since we've had the big chest freezer, freezing the sauce makes the process much less cumbersome and time consuming. We still have sauce from last year to finish up!