Thursday, March 31, 2011

They just keep popping up

These little daisy-like flowers are called pâquerettes in French. They're very tiny and they bloom from spring through summer. In the height of spring, they carpet the lawns all around because they're too short to be cut by most lawnmowers.

This newly opened blossom's petals are still tinged with pink. Click to daisyfy.

These are growing in the vineyard under the vines. There are many unopened flower heads which look red and pink, but they all turn white when they open fully. This one flower is covered with tiny dew droplets.

I'm surprised this picture came out as well as it did since the morning was overcast and I wasn't using a tripod. Sometimes luck wins out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The muscari are blooming

The thing about this time of year is that stuff is growing. Nearly every day there's something new going on in the garden. It's a nice change from winter when things slowed way down. This week we've seen the muscari (grape hyacinth) bloom at its peak. It's also spreading nicely where I transplanted some many years ago.

A close-up of the muscari outside the front door. Click to hyacinthisize.

I have a lot more that I've dug up to transplant. It's actually blooming in pots right now and will have to go into the ground as soon as it stops blooming. The question is: where?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Windows seven

I'm in the process of migrating my computer to Windows 7. It's a long and nerve-wracking process since my computer is about seven years old now. The installation has required me to reinstall most of my programs and that's time consuming. There are some issues with my graphics card (I may need a new one) but most things are going smoothly. Except that I forgot to back up my internet bookmarks (d'oh!) and had to use a year-old backup. Not the end of the world.

Windows... hehehe... get it? I washed these last week; glad I didn't have to re-install them.

I've also updated to Office 2010. It's taking some getting used to. I am very habit-oriented and when my buttons are not where I'm used to them being, or the colors are different, I get frustrated easily. The frustration won't last long as I can adapt. It's just the abrupt change to something unfamiliar that jars me.

I'll also be upgrading to a new version of Photoshop. This one's in English (the one I've been using was in French), so I'll have to learn all the English commands that I've spent years working with in French.

I was awake at about four this morning, just lying there thinking about all of this. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up around 4:30 and turned on the computer. But I did get Money installed and actually balanced my checkbook, so it's been a productive morning. And the sun's not even up yet.

Change is my friend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The wisteria is budding

Spring is working its wonders. La glycine (wisteria) that I planted in 2006 gets bigger every year and has more and more flower buds on it. My hope is that it will eventually span the width of the house; it's about a third of the way there already. At that point I'll start pruning and shaping it.

Buds forming on a section of the wisteria.

We're a while from flowers, but these buds are promising. The plant breaks up the monotony of the house's western wall and in spring the blue flowers are beautiful. And don't worry, I'll be sure to share photos of the flowers when they bloom.

In the meantime, here's a link to what it looked like last spring.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday snapshot

The vineyard. What else? I like the way these pruned vines look on the hillside. It won't be long before they start to leaf out.

This is probably the vineyard parcel I photograph most.

The birches around the house are covered in catkins and the big red maples in front are in full flower. The leaves will follow quickly now.

I barbecued for the first time on Saturday. Steaks on the grill. They were delicious! We ate them with French fries. Then I made crêpes for dessert. Yum! Didn't take a single photo, though. Ken wants to make burritos for lunch today.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Springtime primroses

It's an annual ritual now: posting photos of the springtime primevères (primroses) that pop up all around the garden. Over the years I've noticed that they are spreading to other parts of the yard. These are in a location where there weren't any just a few years ago.

Some of our back yard color right now. There are also yellow, blue, and red primroses out there.

The colors are amazing. The yard is carpeted with all of these colors and the deep purples of little violets and other small flowering plants. One day very soon the grass will need cutting, then all these little flowers will be gone.

But they'll be back again next year.

If you want to see the photos from years past, type "primroses" (be sure it's plural) in the search box on the top left of the Blogger screen and press "enter." Then scroll down through the years!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The cheese course

Or at least, the cheese course I had on Wednesday. There's only one cheese. It's a local chevre (goat's cheese), and a rather young one at that. The cheese, not the goat. They get stronger as they age and dry out (again, the cheese, not the goat). I served mine with a green salad. Tasty.

Salad and goat's cheese with some bread and red wine. Perfect way to finish a meal.

Our week has been very pleasant and spring-like. The weekend looks like it'll be less pleasant, but still spring-like. That means some showers. We haven't had any significant rainfall this month. It's nice that it's dry out there, but the trees and plants are going to need some water before too long.

Of course, I know I don't really need to worry about that at this time of year. There will be rain.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A different daily grind

It's almost all done for the season. The vineyard pruning, that is. Most all of the vineyard parcels out behind our house have been pruned and the cuttings either burned or piled between the rows for mulching. Just as we hear the humming of the harvesters in the fall, in springtime we hear the grinding of the mulchers as they ply the rows, ripping the pruned vines to shreds.

The guy who drives the mulcher stops to collect a few stray canes before continuing down the rows.

The resulting mulch decomposes through the season and, I presume, helps to nourish the soil. The only remaining step before the vines leaf out is to tie the canes down horizontally to their guide wires. Some of that is done, but most of it remains. That's what will be happening in the vineyard in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

These will be lilacs

I think know I mentioned before that the lilac bush has buds on it. It's really nice to see, especially since this is a flowering year. I bought the bush in 2006 and it's doing very well. But I didn't know when I bought it that it blooms every other year. I didn't know they did that. None of the lilacs in our neighborhood (and there are many) do that; they bloom every year.

Tiny lilac flowers are just emerging now. They'll grow into full sized blooms in a few weeks.

But no, I found probably the only lilac bush for sale in France that blooms every other year. I'm lucky like that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday morning moonset

The internet was all a-twitter (sorry, pun intended) with news of the "super moon" that occurred this weekend. All the sources of information I saw for this astronomical event were American. The French news media couldn't be bothered to talk about the moon. Some stuff was going on in Japan and Lybia, apparently. And there are regional elections going on in France; Sunday was election day.

The moon setting in the west on Monday morning. Click to green-cheesify.

I didn't even take a look at the moon on Saturday night. Shades were drawn at bed time. But I did notice this on Monday morning out the western windows of the house. I don't know about a "super moon," but the near-full moon is always a wonderful sight to see. Especially as it's rising or setting when our brains are tricked into thinking it looks larger than normal.

Callie didn't howl at it once.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gratin de leftovers

There was a tiny bit of spinach and garbanzo beans left in the fridge. And some leftover bow tie pasta with a smidgen of tomato sauce. I decided to make a gratin. The little bit of sauce went in the bottom of the dish, followed by the spinach and garbanzos. Next went the pasta (which already had sauce on it). I topped the whole thing with grated comté and parmesan cheeses and a drizzle of olive oil. Into to oven to heat through, and voilà. Lunch.

My gratin of leftovers, with a fresh baguette and some local red wine.

A gratin is any preparation, savory or sweet, that is baked in a shallow dish and allowed to form a light crust over the top. It will often have cheese melted on it, but that's not required.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy hyacinths

Mind the cows, Richard! Oh, sorry. That's Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet!) talking. The bulbs around the house are putting on a little show right now. These are kind of pink. They're jacinthes (hyacinths) and they come up on the southwest corner of the house and seem to like it there.

Pink hyacinths.

There are daffodils and muscari (grape hyacinth) blooming as well. And I'm very excited to see that the lilac is filled with flower heads getting ready to do their thing. The lilac only blooms every other year. Had I known this when I bought it, I would have looked for another. But I didn't, so I'm stuck with it. Thankfully, this is a flower year. Yay!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Les Lorandières

Callie and I have our walking patterns. In the mornings we head out the vineyard road toward the west. Most of the time it's just out and back with no deviations. In the afternoons, Callie likes to head north through the woods and down the hill into the river valley. We make a loop along a dirt road called rue des Lorandières which is parallel to the main road between our town and St.-Aignan for a short distance.

La rue des Lorandières (or Laurendières) looking in the general direction of St.-Aignan.

The road passes along side a field that's planted with colza (rape) or wheat, depending on the year. On the other side of the road are the back yards of a few houses, a small vineyard parcel, a field of grasses, and a tiny plantation of conifers. Near where the road intersects our road (where we turn to climb back up the hill) is a small development of about ten houses that were just built a few years ago. Apparently the elderly couple that live next to those houses sold off some of their land to a developer.

There are a few dogs along this route that regularly come out to see and bark at Callie. They're mostly in fenced-in yards so there are no problems.

I'm really not sure how the name of this road is spelled. On maps, it's spelled with an "o" as I've spelled it in the title. However, on the street signs down there it's spelled "Laurendières." I have a feeling that the original name is the former but that it is now morphing into the latter. Either way, it's pronounced the same.

Friday, March 18, 2011

After a year, they're gone

Just over a year ago, in February 2010, the wind storm called Xynthia moved through our region (after causing a lot of damage, injury, and death on the coast). The damage we suffered was minimal: about twenty tiles were blown off our roof and our two plum trees blew over. The tiles were replaced the day after the storm. But the trees stayed on the ground for a year.

The two plum trees lying on the ground. I had started to cut before I remembered to get the camera.

There are two reasons for that. First, the trees still had half their stumps in the ground and there were buds on the branches. Ken and I decided to let the trees flower and see if they produced fruit. They did, and the crop was one of the better ones we've had. I wonder if it wasn't the stress of being knocked over that put the trees into high gear to reproduce.

One tree is gone. The branches are piled up on the right. The brown spot is where it was lying.

I was planning to cut the trees up in the fall, after the fruit crop ended. But we were busy painting the remodeled attic, and then I injured my neck, and winter came early. The trees stayed on the ground through fall and winter. Until now.

Both trees are gone (mostly). Those little saplings are plums that sprouted and grew through the debris.

I got the chainsaw out and with about three days* of work, cut both trees up and stacked the debris. I still have the stumps to deal with, but I'll need to wait for Ken to get back from his trip to help me with those. And there's one section of tree trunk that didn't get cut before I took these pictures because I needed to tighten the chain on the saw.

We'll spend a few weeks working to cut up the branches for kindling and stacking it over by the wood pile. It will take a while because it has to be done in between all of the other yard work and stairwell painting that we have on tap for this spring.

*Remember, a day of work for me is just a couple of hours long. I start late, take a long lunch, and quit early!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nature in black and white

As spring approaches and the undergrowth in the woods starts to thicken, sights like this will soon be hidden away. There are several chestnut trees along one of the paths that we take with the dog that goes down the hill into the river valley. In the fall, it's littered with nuts and husks (you can see them here). The nuts are mostly gone now, and the husks are dried or rotting.

Knotty and nutty. Click to enprickelate.

I thought the knot hole in the log and the empty chestnut husk were interesting together. Since there wasn't much color in the image to begin with, I decided to take it all out and bump up the contrast a bit to highlight the spines.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's not the best picture

But here's Callie right after her grooming. I hope I didn't give anyone the wrong impression; her fur was just lightly trimmed, not clipped down. She had long bits of hair growing out between her toes and on the back sides of her legs. The hair on her rump (one groomer once called that "the skirt") was also very long and knotty. So that all got trimmed off and the fur on her chest and belly got evened up.

My paws are neat and tidy now, but I'm so over it.

The groomer also lightly trimmed her all over, but if you didn't see her before it's hard to tell. At any rate, she's clean, tangle-free, and trimmed up. She also didn't want her picture taken, as you can see. She wouldn't look at me with the camera and absolutely refused to pose. I don't blame her, really.

I heard on the news (which in France is all Japan and Lybia right now) that the country in the world with the most domestic power nuclear reactors is the United States. I had no idea. According to what I saw, the US currently operates 58 reactors, followed by France with 55. I had a quick look a Wikipedia and they say there are 104 commercial reactors operating in the US and 59 operating in France. The United States is the largest supplier of commercial nuclear power in the world.

Neither Wikipedia nor television news programs is a paragon of accuracy. But still, the general information seems to be that the US has the most reactors in the world, and that really surprised me. Most of them are located in the east and mid-west.

Our house is just over 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) from the two reactors at St.-Laurent on the Loire River. Those reactors were commissioned in 1983. There were two older reactors on the site that were decommissioned in the early 1990s; they were about thirty years old then.

The debate has begun again, given what's happening in Japan, about the wisdom of nuclear power in France (and I'm sure all over the world -- Germany just shut down a number of reactors). Except for the Green Party, most politicians say that France cannot and will not abandon nuclear power generation. Eighty percent of France's electricity comes from nuclear generation. That's a lot. But the prime minister immediately authorized a thorough safety review of all of France's plants, and there is a growing consensus to shut down at least one, Fessenheim (near the border with Germany), which is the nation's oldest operating plant.

It's interesting. I know the plants are there; in fact I know where several of them are. But I kind of ignore them on a day to day basis. It reminds me of when I lived in San Francisco. I knew we were on the San Andreas fault, and I was there for the 1989 earthquake. We did some things to prepare for a "big one" around the house (strapping the water heater, bolting shelves to the wall, having an "earthquake survival kit" on hand). But on a day to day basis, I didn't really think about it much.

With this disaster in Japan, I'm suddenly acutely aware of the nuclear power plants nearby.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring is near

As the calendar goes. The weather is teasing us right now with very mild days and lots of sunshine. The sunshine part ends today, however, as another weather system moves through. No real rain predicted, just clouds. And very mild temperatures. The bulbs are up and beginning to open all around.

Hyacinths in a planter box on the deck beginning to bloom.

I've got to do some research and figure out why I have so many bulbs that don't flower. Some of them may be very old, but they haven't reproduced and they've just stopped flowering. The leaves come up every year, no flowers.

As you may know, Callie had her first professional grooming experience yesterday. All went very well. She didn't freak out when I left her at the shop, and the groomer told me she behaved very well. One small thing that I didn't like was that the groomer fed her. Not a little treat here and there to win her confidence, but like a huge meal. I only know because Callie threw it all up when we got home.

After we got out of the car and I was closing the gate, I noticed Callie chowing down on grass, as dogs do. Then, during our walk she regurgitated nearly one and a half times the amount of kibble that I usually give her in the morning. I could tell she had just eaten it within the past hour or so (If you live with animals or small children you will know what I mean).

But she wasn't any the worse for wear. No ill effects. And she enjoyed her walk and gobbled up her treats when we got back to the house. I took some photos, but I don't like them, so I'll take some more soon and post one here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Épinards aux pois chiches

This is a Spanish dish called espinaca con garbanzos (spinach and garbanzo beans, also known as chick-peas). I was inspired to give it a try by fellow blogger Mitch and his partner Jerry. They are moving to Spain soon and have already fallen in love with the food. They had tasted this dish in a restaurant (I read that it's commonly served as tapas) on their recent trip and wanted to make it at home. Since I had all the ingredients for this in the house, I decided to give it a whirl for Saturday's lunch.

Suprême de volaille poché, épinards aux pois chiches.

I'm glad I did. It's incredibly simple and incredibly good. I used frozen spinach and canned garbanzos. An aside about garbanzos: We have dried chick peas on hand and have used them. They cook up like any dried bean. But I swear that I can't tell the difference between those and the canned garbanzos.

The other ingredients are olive oil, fresh garlic, ground cumin, dried red pepper flakes, smoked paprika (we got a good supply of this in Paris a while back), some cubed white bread (to bind the sauce), some red wine vinegar, and a little tomato sauce (home made from our freezer). I added a splash of Spanish white wine (because I have some in the house) instead of water to make the consistency right.

At the end I squeezed in some lemon juice to freshen it up. I also added a little more hot pepper. I served it along side a chicken breast that I poached in white wine with a bay leaf. A great lunch. I had a second helping of the spinach and chick peas. Then I had another small bowl for dinner later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The silo in the sun

I've talked about the grain silo across the river before and, how in misty weather, it can look like a cathedral. But it is indeed a grain elevator and silo built of poured concrete and situated on the railroad line that runs through the river valley. On a sunny day you can't mistake it for what it is.

The river flows between the houses and grain elevator. Click to granafy.

This view is from our side of the river just down the hill from our house. The past few sunny days have been a wonderful preview of spring and my walks with Callie have been almost warm and dry. It's nice when I don't have to give her a bath after every walk.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stuck like a pig

There was an interesting story making the rounds of the news shows this week in France. I wonder if it made it to the US. There's been a rise in the population of sangliers (wild boar) in France in recent years. A few days ago, an errant adult of 60 kilos (132 lbs.) found its way into a shopping mall and terrorized shoppers in the center's big grocery store before making its way into a hair salon and taking a bath in one of the shampoo sinks. People with iPhones and digital cameras recorded the shenanigans to the delight of the newscasters.

I don't have any photos of wild boar, so you'll have to make do with these dried thistles.

The authorities were able to call in a vet to tranquilize the animal and safely remove it from the premises, but the hair salon was trashed. What a pig! The news people said the animal would likely be euthanized.

Wild boar are famous in France for their ability not to be seen. How this one made it into a huge suburban shopping center in the middle of the day is very strange. I've only seen boar in the wild once, and that was while driving through a forest near where we live at about three in the morning. A mother and several little piglets crossed the road in front of us that night.

Boar are prized by hunters and chefs. The meat is good and is often made into pâtés and terrines.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Let's make tracks

Well, let somebody else make tracks. And they did. These are somebody's tire tracks as seen in the mud of the vineyard road recently. Right now, since we've had almost a week of sunny and dry weather, they've all but disappeared.

Tire tracks in the vineyard road.

I'm sticking with my philosophy of doing one thing a day and feeling good about making progress. Yesterday, in addition to getting my hair cut, I installed a light fixture in our new stairwell (the one that goes up to the new finished attic space). It took me about half an hour and several trips up and down two flights of stairs to get various tools. There were a couple of tense moments and swear words could have been heard (had there been someone here to hear them).

So, what will I do today?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freshly pruned vines in morning sunlight

Just another day in vine land. Now that the days are lengthening the sun is actually up and shining when I'm out on the morning walk. That is, on days that the sky is clear. Like I mentioned yesterday, the vineyards are all on hillsides that drain down to the river. That makes views like this one possible.

Those yellow splotches on the ground are splotches of sunlight!

This week's weather is beautiful, I must say. Highs hear 60ºF and sunshine. I got out into the garden yesterday afternoon and planted seeds for escarole, radishes, and leeks. They're planted under fabric tunnels to keep them warm.

Ken took the train up to Paris yesterday and spent the night there. He's flying out this morning to North Carolina. I'll be tracking his flights if I can. Sometimes the tracking sites don't handle American flights originating in Europe too well, especially while they're over the Atlantic. But I should be able to pick it up as it gets closer to the North American coast.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

More scenes from the winter vineyard

The vineyards' transition from winter to spring is accelerating. The buds on the vines are fattening up, and more and more parcels are getting pruned. That makes the vineyards look neat and clean. Old posts are being ripped out and replaced with new ones. New vines are being planted in spots where old ones have died.

You can see how the land slopes toward deep gullies. Trees grow along the streams that drain directly the to the river.

This picture is taken way out toward the end of our dirt road. It's looking roughly west to where the vines begin to give way to forest and other crop lands. The vines are planted on the heights above the river valley for, I believe, the good drainage that the land provides. Most vineyard land in France is found along rivers. That's why you often see wine labels with the word côtes or côteaux on them. For example, Côtes du Rhône means "the banks of the Rhône River."

This style of planting is different from that practiced in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California where many vineyards are planted on the flat valley floors. Those places have little or no precipitation in the growing season, so drainage is not much of an issue there. In fact, many California vineyards have to be irrigated, something that is not permitted in France.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tarte au chocolat

We usually keep a bar of cooking chocolate in the freezer for those occasions when we want to make something chocolate (which is not often in our house). Lately I've been making petits pots de crème au chocolat (thanks to Susan for the recipe!) and depleted our supply. So the last time Ken went to the supermarket he picked up a couple more bars of chocolate for the freezer.

A 200g bar of Lindt chocolate (70% cacao). I used 120g, just over half, for the pie.

And, since his birthday was on Saturday, we decided his birthday dessert would be a tarte au chocolat (a chocolate pie). As usual, I started with my standard pie crust. Most recipes for this pie use a sweet crust like a pâte sablée, but I stuck with my old stand-by. The recipe for the filling was one of the simpler ones that I found using just sugar, eggs, chocolate, and cream. I added a little vanilla extract for more flavor and I suppose you could add a liqueur like Grand Marnier if you wanted to.

I should have put a piece of mint or at least a fork on the plate to make the picture more interesting...

The pie came out very creamy and not too rich nor too sweet. It would also be good with a dollop of whipped cream or a meringue on top, I'd bet.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Periodic Puppy Pics

Here's the latest in the large (and growing) collection of pictures of Callie in the vineyard. She really enjoys her walks, especially during the winter when she can't hang out outdoors. It's funny to remember that when she was a puppy she hated going out into the vineyard for walks. She would sit down and refuse to move, or turn back toward home the first chance she got.

I think I said "kitty cat" to get her to turn and look directly at me.

With this current run of sunny and dry weather, Callie's also been enjoying going out on the deck in the mornings to sit in the sun. She'll also nap in the entry porch when it's full of warm sunshine. It's a dog's life!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Okra and tomato pizza

We had some leftover okra and tomatoes in the freezer and decided that it should make a good pizza topping. So on Friday I made a crust, sauteed some mushrooms and a leftover half an onion from the fridge, and used the okra and tomatoes as a sauce for the two pizzas.

The okra are the green bits in the sauce. Click to neapolinate.

They were delicious! I think this is the first time I've had okra on a pizza. It probably won't be the last.

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Or maybe more accurately, slug tracks. After one of our recent rains I saw hundreds of these tracks in the soft mud that is otherwise known as the dirt road through the vineyard. The tracks led to and from the innumerable puddles that dot the length of the road.

They're almost like the Nazca lines in Peru, aren't they?

I think these are slug tracks because (a) I've seen a lot of slugs on the road, and (b) the tracks go in more or less straight lines. For some reason, I imagine the worms not making such straight tracks. Most of the worms I see on the road are in various stages of drying up, all curled and wriggling.

I like each of these photos for different reasons, so you get to see them both.

I've gotten over my initial urge to help the poor things by moving them into a puddle or into the grass. I figure there are plenty of worms. The worms I see are the ones who couldn't or wouldn't save themselves. It's evolution in action. Besides, the worms' death and decay add additional nutrients to the environment. I try not to interfere with another organism's supper.

Extra points if you know where the title of this post comes from.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Petites rivières

Little rivers. That's what the drainage ditches along the vineyard road remind me of sometimes. Especially after we've had a lot of rain. The ditches run full for a few days after a good rain and they look like miniature river systems complete with rapids, waterfalls, and sandbars.

A treacherous sandbar lurks beneath the surface of Ditch River.

Even the grass and other little plants along the ditch can look like trees on river banks. It helps to have a glass or two of wine before walking. The ditches drain into more permanent ruisseaux (streams) that carve gullies on their way down to the Cher River. The Cher is actually une rivière that joins La Loire (un fleuve) just west of the city of Tours.

Remember that une rivière is generally a tributary to un fleuve, a river that empties into the sea.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Lichens and ivy

How do you pronounce "lichen?" I've always said LIKE-en. But I've heard others, like Sir David Attenborough, say LITCH-en (rhymes with kitchen). I wonder if one pronunciation is more American while the other is more British. Could be.

Lichens and ivy on the trunk of a tree out on the vineyard road.

However you pronounce it, we have it aplenty. It's all over the trees and rocks and stones around us. I read that lichens are not parasites, so they won't harm a tree as they cover its bark. That's a good thing. That ivy, however, will take down a tree if it's given the chance. We try to cut the ivy off the trunks of our trees in the yard, but it's quite tenacious. And it grows back.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The two towers

Yes, but which one is Orthanc and which one is Barad-dûr? Hehe, a little Lord of the Rings humor there. The tower on the top is a water tower, the one below is a grain elevator. There is neither a wizard nor a dark lord to be seen.

Two of the many towers that you can see in the Cher River valley.

This is the view from our side of the river. Both of these towers are on the right (north) bank of the Cher. The grain silo is pretty much right on the riverbank, while the water tower is up on the heights above it.

I've always thought that from a distance in hazy weather, the grain silo looks like a cathedral. The bulk of the silo is below the tree line in this shot, though, so you can't really see it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

After the rain

There are several spots in the vineyard, mostly along the road, where water collects after a rainstorm. There are a few drainage ditches that the town maintains to help the water flow into streams and down to the river. Grape vines don't like their feet to be wet.

The road blocks the water at this spot, so there's a drain that takes the water under it.

This particular spot is not far out into the vineyard and seems to be one of the last places to dry up. I think it's because the raised roadbed forms a kind of a dam. The growers installed a drain in the ground there that lets the water move under the dirt road to a channel that runs in between two rows on the other side which, in turn, runs down to a stream.

A level spot in the road where lots of puddles form.

Callie enjoys the puddles. She drinks from them. Sometimes she just walks through them. Then all the sand and dirt from the road clings to her wet fur. I've begun to refer to our walks as "going to get muddy paws."