Saturday, February 25, 2012


Add to Google Reader or HomepageThe temperature today reached 19° C. That is about 66° F in the states. The “vague de froid” (cold wave) has ended and everyone is talking about spring. The French don’t have Punxsutawney Phil to predict the end of winter on Groundhog Day. The French prefer to make crêpes on that day. They call it “Chandeleur.” Good fortune comes to those who can toss a crêpe into the air and catch it in the same pan (using the hand with which one doesn't write). Even though the focus is different; the French have similar proverbs and predictions for the day. I found these online at

À la Chandeleur, l'hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens

À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures
On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost

Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure
Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour

The cold and the crêpes aside, the dry weather has become a much more popular topic. Since our arrival in France in mid-December, it has rained only three times including a dusting of snow. The Ouveze River that flows through town now looks like a creek. Mt. Ventoux, usually snow-covered until April, is mostly bald with only small patches of snow on the north side. The leaves on the olive trees are curled up and looking a whole lot more silver than green.

I have not heard anyone speaking of a drought but this year is so different from our past three winters here. An n of three is not the basis for long-term predictions but winter rain gets absorbed into the clay and is what the grape vines and fruit trees live on during the long, dry summers here.

I am not complaining. The skies have been a deep blue with few clouds. The air is clear and regularly re-cleaned by the Mistral winds. I would like to imagine that the sky and air are as they were when the Impressionists started painting Provence scapes in the amazing colors that they used.


  1. Interesting post. Could you please elaborate on catching the crepe with the hand other than the one you write with? Is this like the Ethiopian custom you taught years ago about eating with the hand other than the one you wipe with? Anthropologically speaking, as I often do, I'm thinking there is evidence here for a direct relationship between Ethiopia and Southern France.

  2. Wonderful comment! The actual translation is: "holding a coin in your writing hand and a crepe pan in the other...

  3. Although you have not had much rain you have had more than your share of bitter cold and in some part of Provence a fair amount of snow. I am hoping that the sun will shine and the sky blue when we are there for the last two weeks of March.