Snow Again…

Unusually tame squirrel

Unusually tame squirrel

This is starting not to be funny. Yesterday it rained and the snow had almost melted completely when we went to bed. By the time we woke up it had all come back; as much as before, if not more. Twice in one week is exceptional. Our 16th January here is tuning up to be our worst month ever, with only fleeting glimpses of the sun.

After last Wednesday’s white-out we were stuck. Our house is at the end of a kilometre long lane, which is steep, twisting and overhung with trees. It takes a long time to thaw and tractors make it worse by compacting the snow into lethally icy ruts. Although it’s a communal road, the commune hasn’t the resources to salt it, let alone snowplough it.

Today's view at the front

Today’s view at the front – lunch outside perhaps?

However, on Friday the Météo forecast more on the way – they were right – and we figured that if we didn’t break out soon we risked running out of food. So, with the SF driving we slithered off down the lane in the trusty old Mercedes, which has narrower tyres than our other car. According to him that means it’s less likely to skid. Once we had made it to the main road, some four kilometres distant, it wasn’t too bad. But it was pretty hairy getting there.

Fine show of icicles hanging from the bolet roof

Fine show of icicles hanging from the bolet roof

Once at Leclerc in Villefranche, we descended like the proverbial plague of locusts – if two people can constitute a plague – and stripped the shelves. Fresh milk and veg were priorities and we loaded up the car. Alas, we couldn’t get back up the lane. The tyres spun and we slid sideways but not forwards. I had the ingenious idea of putting the rubber foot-well mats under the wheels but even that didn’t get us far.

Nothing for it but to reverse the car carefully off the road and leave it. Then we had to walk one kilometre up to the house, fetch the wheelbarrows, load them up at the car and push them one kilometre uphill. At one point the gradient is about 1 in 3. Looking on the bright side, it kept us nice and warm and it does wonders for your arm muscles.

Snow sticking like lumps of cotton wool

Snow sticking like lumps of cotton wool

I complained like hell at the time but I’m glad we made the effort since we are back to square one today. The birds and animals have become tamer as a result and I’ve been able to get a couple of wildlife shots. The birds were mugging me as I hung out fresh fat balls for them this morning and fights were breaking out as they jostled to get to the food.

The birds enjoying their breakfast

The birds enjoying their breakfast

And this red squirrel was unusually close to the house, absorbed in his/her walnut and oblivious to my presence.

Unusually tame squirrel

Absorbed in its walnut

Apparently, in 2000 a climate expert in England claimed that snow would become “a rare and exciting event.” Humph.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
This entry was posted in French life, Nature, Weather and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Snow Again…

  1. Kate Swaffer says:

    Living in the hottest state, of the hottest continent in the world (Australia), all that snow, and the picture of the beautiful little red squirrel, makes it look enticing and wonderful! Obviously living with it is a very different thing!

    Like

    • nessafrance says:

      I’ll be happy to swap with you! Winter here is very different from summer. The first day, the snow is pretty. After that, it’s just a nuisance.

      Like

  2. pfornari says:

    Absolutely gorgeous pics, Vanessa. I hope you got plenty of provisions in!

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    • nessafrance says:

      We did get plenty of provisions in – but at the price of wheeling them uphill! I was pleased to get the pic of the red squirrel. They rarely stay still long enough.

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  3. RobboC says:

    Do so agree with you on this, Vanessa. After all the effort Mother Nature put into melting away the midweek snow, drip by drip almost, taking all day Saturday, it seems she forgot herself and put it all back again today! Such a major blunder! We too broke out and shopped on Saturday – in the same place as you, it seems (and, unfortunately, hundreds of others). We got back home, up the steep slope and round the final bend, only through a touch of Björn Waldegård style rally driving through our gates – thankfully leaving an intact post either side. The SF would have found it highly patriotic! Our factrice (Post lady) was less courageous, she rang to ask if she could leave our last few days’ mail with the garage at the foot of the lane. In all the places we have lived, I cannot before remember a phone call from the postman… Très débrouillarde (very resourceful)! Clearly ready for a run out on his quad bike, the garage owner appeared at our gate this morning, armed with our post and a huge smile. The French are very kind to us, you know.

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    • nessafrance says:

      Well done for getting back up your slope. Our lane is too long and steep to maintain the speed necessary to make progress. Good service from the post lady – and neighbourly behaviour from the garage man. I have found that people are usually glad to help out in these situations.

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  4. amelie88 says:

    Oh dear! We have had some rather snowy winters–winter 2010-2011 was pretty bad for New York, I think there were 3 or 4 major snowstorms. In my last year of college, we had 2 snowstorms within a span of 4 days–I didn’t envy the students who had their cars parked along the side of the road! It really makes you applaud all of those people who live in Scandinavia/Canada. I seriously don’t know how they put up with snow 8 months out of the year!

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    • nessafrance says:

      I would find it very discouraging if we had this on a regular basis. Five days of it are enough – but that’s because we are not used to it. And, of course, because we live in the south of France everyone thinks we must be basking in balmy temperatures even in January.

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      • amelie88 says:

        I lived in Madrid for two years which is even further south–it got cold there too. Madrid is surrounded by the Sierra de Guadarrama and it snows up there. It definitely gets cold in Spain too! So I definitely believe it gets cold in the south of France–I remember when I studied abroad in Toulouse in 2009. It snowed while I was there!

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      • nessafrance says:

        I’ve never been to Madrid but I’ve heard it can get cold there in winter, being on a high plateau. And Toulouse can be absolutely freezing – as well as boiling hot in summer.

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  5. Well done you, what an effort! We’ve got no busses and we are right in the city. My daughter is delighting at no school tomorrow as the busses won’t go up the hill. I shall tell her how you walked a km with all your shopping, because when i suggested walking she threw her arms up in dispair!

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    • nessafrance says:

      As I said to someone else, no doubt all the school children are rejoicing at the lack of school buses. Don’t let on that we walked all that way with our shopping. We had an incentive – she doesn’t.

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  6. OMG … I’m very glad that for one reason and another we have decided to stay in Tuscany! Exciting though, and I almost wish that I could take part of all that snowy excitement, but maybe in reality, it’s better to put up with the masses of rain that we are now having here. Hope to catch up with you in March.

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    • nessafrance says:

      After several days of it, I would rather have rain than snow. It just keeps coming back. Yesterday, we thought we’d got rid of it and then it was all back again this morning. Look forward to seeing you in March.

      Like

  7. Evelyn says:

    You are quite a pioneer woman to haul your groceries in a wheelbarrow! We had 3-4 inches down here in the river valley. My neighbor who is quite the weather prognosticator says it’s supposed to snow again tonight…sigh!

    Like

  8. Lovely photos Vanessa, especially the squirrel. We had a tiny spattering of snow with a thin coating of ice, enough to stop the school bus, but not too bad. Glad you got some food in.

    Like

    • nessafrance says:

      No doubt your children are happy about the school bus – I know plenty of children around here who share that sentiment. We thought we were well provisioned but we would have been struggling if we hadn’t got out on Friday.

      Like

  9. susancarey says:

    Sounds pretty annoying and inconvenient, Vanessa, but beautiful pictures all the same. Apparently if you get stuck in sand, just letting some air out of the tyres will help you get going again. Don’t know if this also works for snow. Sounds like great material for a story anyhow! Keep warm and apparently squirrels are very tasty if you get really stuck!

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    • nessafrance says:

      We’ll have to try the letting out of air. My husband is Swedish and has years of experience of driving on snow but even he was defeated by our lane! As for squirrel, our cat has been looking very hopeful the past few days but he hasn’t yet struck lucky as far as we know. I would have to be very hungry to eat one.

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  10. Thank you for your very kind comment on my blog. I was touched…
    I’m sorry for all your tribulations, when we here have Spring temperatures and even no rain today. I saw with a certain amount of glee, I have to admit, that the Finistère was the only green département on the weather map last night. Well, there has to be some compensation for the non-stop rain we have had for the last few months.
    Your house and garden are quite beautiful. Most of the year, you must have a delightful setting.

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    • nessafrance says:

      I think it’s not uncommon for you to be wallowing in balmy temperatures while we are shivering with cold down here! Having a continental climate does have its downsides. But you are right, we live in a lovely setting and are very lucky. Even when it snows it’s lovely – but it does complicate life.

      Like

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