I’m in the throes of the literary lunacy called National Novel Writing Month, and creating my second Corsica novel. This is not an easy task and it is made doubly difficult by the phenomenally warm weather we have experienced during the past few weeks. I just want to be outside all the time. This astonishing weather has brought out all sorts of beasts that would otherwise be hibernating or dead.
We were eating lunch outside one day, when I noticed something moving on the rosemary bush. It was a praying mantis (mante réligieuse in French). We hadn’t seen any at all this year but the warm weather obviously brought it out.
They are fierce little creatures and not averse to a bit of cannibalism. Some years ago, we found a dead one on the lavender outside. A live one then appeared and we decided to conduct an experiment. So we placed the dead one close to the live one and stood back to watch what would happen.
They eyeballed each other for a while (at least the live one did). All of a sudden it grabbed the dead praying mantis and proceeded to consume it. We wondered if it was surprised at the lack of resistance presented by its adversary. I suppose that was the least of its worries.
Whilst we have experienced warm weather in early November, it has never been anything like this. We have been walking in shorts and tee-shirts, eating outside at lunchtime (and finding it too hot) and rejoicing at the savings we are making on the heating bills. But we had better not get too complacent: the wind needs only to change to the east or north and it will be a totally different story.
However, apart from a cold snap in mid-October, when we had a couple of sharp frosts, it has been a fantastic autumn.
Weather assessment for October
A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In October, there were:
Pluses – 15
Zeros – 14
Minuses – 2
The chart below shows the percentage of plus days each October for the past 18 years (the line is the trend). This October was not actually one of the best; in fact, only 6 have been worse, and two the same in 18 years. But the fact that it was so dry is an influential factor.
Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. In October this year we had only 24.5 mm of rain, well below the average of 66.6 mm. It has been very dry indeed and we have noticed that our walking boots rarely need to be cleaned following a randonnée.
Despite the above average rainfall earlier in the year, it’s now dropping back and, overall, we have had 687.5 mm of rain, compared to the 700.5 mm we would normally expect.
The frosts usually start in October, but it depends very much on the weather from year to year. In mid-October this year, we had a couple of unexpected sharp frosts that I expected would kill off my geraniums. Thankfully, they didn’t succumb, but the walnut trees lost most of their leaves afterwards.
Early November has been characterised by unseasonably warm weather, but also by a ferocious vent d’autan (south wind) on Monday that snapped trees like matchsticks and brought down the last of the walnuts.
What do the dictons (sayings) predict for November?
De la chaleur en novembre cause de bien des gens la mort Hot weather in November causes the death of many people.
Why? Maybe the bugs aren’t killed off. Make sure you get your ‘flu vaccination, then.
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