Mid winter in the Pyrenees

It’s been a funny old winter so far. Yes, the first fall of snow came as usual on the final weekend of November. But it was only a few centimetres, not the two metres we had the year before and it was gone in a few days. December came and went in warm sunny days and cold nights, and much of January was the same.

Only now, in February are we getting significant amounts of precipitation but in the form of rain rather than snow. Mind you, snow is forecast for the week ahead so it could all change again.

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It’s all a bit confusing for plants. Two of our fruit trees, right down the bottom of our hillside, are in blossom, much too early. They’ll be lucky to produce anything this summer. Daffodils are out as well, both the natural wild ones which populate our hillside and also the bulbs we planted two years ago. They do add a welcome splash of colour.

Today has been a wonderful day. Contrary to the forecast, the day dawned clear and bright and we’ve had warm sunshine all day. Off to Saint Girons’ brilliant market this morning, less busy than usual – it is mid winter – but still bustling, friendly, colourful and full of wonderful produce. No flower merchants so we head off to Lorp Sentarille, just a kilometre or so away, to a busy little plant centre to stock up on some winter colour – primroses.

Then it’s back to the house. Lunch on the terrace in the sunshine, a rare treat at this time of year but it’s certainly warm enough.

Barbara gathers her garden implements to plant the primroses in pots and sort out the potager. I do a bit of maintenance on the chainsaw and axe, and set to cutting up wood to fit both boiler and range cooker. An hour chopping wood is a great work-out! No need for the gym. Every upper body muscle gets used.

Then a bit of pruning on our sprawling hazel tree. Take out some of the branches i the middle, leaving a good shape with  ranches clear of each other, and take out any new growth we don’t want. Chainsaw threw its chain several times so more maintenance required.

What a great day in mid-winter. Sunshine, market, lunch outside and hard physical work. Now it’s time for a snifter or two and…. zzzzzzz