Friday, December 26, 2008

Blue Christmas

Well, it has certainly been a blue Christmas, until today. Not for the same reasons (a blue Christmas without you) that Elvis was warbling about in the song of that name, but because of blazing blue skies. For the past few days we have had brilliant sunshine during the day, with temperatures even into the teens, and brilliant starshine at night, with temperatures well below zero until the day really got going.

So, after a very disappointing and restricting few weeks, I have been able to get several good walks in. Even on Christmas morning, Gay and I were out while it was still dark and by just after ten, we had completed a walk of nearly three hours. The mulled wine and mince pies were well-earned.

We were out in the dark again this morning, driving to Lavelanet so that I could walk back. Snow was forecast, but had not yet shown itself as we went to the car. On the way to Lavelanet the flakes started to fall, but only in a lazy sort of way. We went to the boulangerie, where I bought a croissant aux amandes made by my friend and fellow guitarist Jesse. Took it into the bar next door and, together with the coffee I ordered there, it was my breakfast. A smug indulgence, when one is about to walk over 21 kms.

As usual, whle eating breakfast, we perused the morning paper. I was quite surprised to find my name in there. A bit of a late report on the concert which took place two weeks ago. I, "Vic, d'origine anglais", am reported as having added an international flavour to the concert.

A quick bask in this fame, a quick trawl with Gay round a very truncated market, and I set off on my walk (Gay was driving Spot home - yes, our car is called Spot!) as the snowfall began to look more serious and the sky was looking much more threatening.

In the first picture above the snow is decidely beginning to stick and I am still 15 kms from home. By the time the second picture was taken, walking is becoming a little more difficult, and my shoes are getting rather wet, but I have only 3 or 4 kms to go.

As she drove home, Gay heard on the radio that the Ariege (where I started my walk) and the Aude (where we live) and three other departements in the Pyrenees are subject to an orange alert (that sounds dramatic, but I don't know what it means exactly) today and tomorrow, with heavy snow promised, or at least threatened. It is still snowing, 2 hours after I reached home.

But spare a thought for our friends Margaret and Jim in Alberta. Earlier this month Margaret told us that, after a November in which, unusually, the temperature had not fallen below zero, they had started December deep in snow and at a temperature of -30 Centigrade. But, she said, they and youngest daughter Helen would be going to visit elder daughter Claire in Vancouver over Christmas, and there would definitely be no snow on the Pacific coast. Yesterday, Margaret, Helen and Jim were still trapped in Edmonton because there has been so much snow in Vancouver that the airports are virtually closed. Christmas is on hold for them.

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