Travel


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Me and my shadow

Well, my shadow, no me. The weather remains very spring-like. And not in a good way. It's not warm. We're having wind and rain squalls. Can't really do much outside. Looking west on a sunny morning a couple of Sundays ago. I did have a successful trip to the market over in Selles-sur-Cher yesterday. I got the flowering plants for the kitchen window boxes. I chose a two-toned deep red surfinia (cascading petunia). The choice was difficult because there were some very interesting colors to choos...
Tags: Travel, Cher, WCS, The Vineyard, Selles


Walnut tree

There is a lone walnut tree out on the vineyard road. The nuts it produces are small and not really worth harvesting. One of our neighbors (now deceased) used to walk out every now and then and pick a bagful off the ground in the fall. Our dog Callie was very curious about the nuts. Birds (or other animules), cracked some of them open. Callie would sniff and sometimes even eat a leftover piece of a walnut, but not very often. Tasha sniffs, but I've never seen her eat one. Lonely walnut tree. K...
Tags: Travel, Our House, Ken, WCS, Tasha, Callie, The Vineyard


Wide angle

I took this photo not far from yesterday's "Tasha Tuesday" image. The camera is pointed almost directly at the sun. In yesterday's shot, the sun is actually in the picture. It's more or less a white blob in the center right. I cropped the sun out of today's photo. Looking easterly on Sunday morning toward our hamlet. These photos were an experiment with my wide-angle lens. It's a 24mm fixed lens, not the widest of wide angles. My standard lens is a 50mm fixed, so this is almost twice the "widt...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Tasha Tuesday

Here's Tasha on Sunday morning. The sky was clear and we had a good walk, even though the grassy areas were wet from melting frost. My hiking boots are no longer waterproof, I found out. Oh well. Tasha looks toward home over the vineyards on Sunday morning. The wind kicked up over night and we're expecting rain to start mid-day. And we've run out of heating oil. I knew we were getting low, and this unexpected chilly weather has been making the boiler run more than normal for this time of year....
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Frosty Sunday morning

Frost formed in all the usual places on Sunday morning. As the sun rose, the frost started to melt and Tasha's feet got wet when she ventured into the grassy places. Then, as she walked along in the road, her wet fur picked up sand and dirt. I rinsed her off when we got home, but I can never get it all off, so we get little piles of sand on the floor where she sits. Frost outside our back gate as the sun rises on Sunday morning. The sunrise was pretty, though. The sky was clear and there was s...
Tags: Travel, Weather, Frost, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Wired

Or, more accurately, un-wired. These are some of the guide wires from a vineyard parcel that's being dug out. I'm assuming the parcel will be re-planted with new grapes, but if I understand the process, that probably won't happen until next year. There are three larger parcels nearby that were plowed up last year. I'm expecting that they'll be planted with new grapes this summer, once the warm weather (high hopes) sets in. Bundles of rusty old wire. We're back in a chilly spell. I haven't seen...
Tags: Travel, Weather, France, Frost, WCS, The Vineyard


Another one bites the dust

Another few vineyard parcels out toward the end of the road have seen their last days. Over the past few weeks, I've seen the guide wires removed, the stakes pulled out, and many of the vine trunks taken away. The next step will be plowing up the ground, along with the remaining vine trunks. Not much remains in these old vineyard parcels. These must have been very old vines. I know that one of the larger parcels (just beyond the trees in this photo) that was dug up last year had the oldest vin...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Vineyard view

The vineyards out back are mostly prepared for the new season. Pruning and pliage are done, the growers are plowing between rows as weeds begin to grow, and now leaves are appearing on the vines. The clover in that one parcel has been cut and plowed in, allowing the nitrogen stored in the roots to be released as a natural fertilizer. The vines are busy producing new leaves. We've just read that the practice of planting clover or other cover crops in vineyards is gaining ground in the effort to...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


A bud

The cold weather has slowed down the leafing-out process in the vineyards. I don't know how much, if any, damage was done over the past two weeks of morning freezes. Time will tell. One of the buds in this photo looks ok, with leaves growing. The other one looks a little too brown. I see parcels out back with many leaves and others with just buds. A grape vine cane with buds tied to its support wire. The chilly mornings don't motivate me to get out to work in the yard. Walks with the dog are n...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Peeking at peonies

This is one of two pivoine (peony) clumps in our garden. We didn't plant them; they were here when we bought the house. However, I did transplant this clump by digging up and dividing the original clump. "Clump" is the appropriate botanical term, I'm certain. I wasn't blogging back then, but I mentioned having divided the plants in a 2009 post. Blogging is a great repository of memory. A peony flower bud. It will open soon. We're still having chilly mornings that hover around freezing. We can ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Garden Flowers Plants


One more moon shot

I can't stop. Mostly because I don't have other photos to post at the moment. And I'm saving one for Tasha Tuesday, so this isn't the last. When the moon hits your eye... yes, I'm making pizza for lunch today. Friday's errands went smoothly. At the Montrichard market, I waited in line to get the rabbit, but it wasn't unpleasant. Rabbits are typically sold by poultry vendors in France. The vendor I went to is the same local poultry vendor that works the Saturday market in Saint-Aignan. I went t...
Tags: Travel, France, US, WCS, The Vineyard, Food And Cooking


Monday's moonset

Here's another shot of the full moon setting on Monday morning. The sun was up, lighting the treetops and vineyard posts as it cleared the eastern horizon. I had the 50mm lens on the camera, so the moon just looks like a white ball in the sky. My longer zoom lens (75-300mm) would have let me get closer (to make the moon look bigger) but it might have been difficult to get a good shot without a tripod in the low morning light. Looking west. 50mm, f8, 1/800s. It's too soon to tell, but the weath...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Plowed

Remember those vineyard parcels that were dug up last fall? Remember the piles of grape vine trunks that were burned last month? Here's a link to my recent post about them. Last week I noticed that those three parcels have now been plowed in the next step toward replanting. I'm assuming this was the first of a couple of passes with the plow, based on what I've seen before. Two of the three vineyard parcels that will be replanted in the coming months. Today is supposed to be the best and last o...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard


Just before sunrise

Monday morning was clear for the full moon, and I went out just before sunrise to take some photos. I must have been groggy, because most of the pictures didn't turn out very well. I haven't mastered low-light photography. I think I metered in the wrong spot. Oh well, I'm posting some of them anyway. A thin layer of morning fog (or is it wood smoke?) over our hamlet at sunrise on Monday. Tuesday was another nice day, as predicted. I grilled burgers and Ken dressed them with sauteed mushrooms a...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard, Our Neighborhood, Food And Cooking, Cher Valley


Moon over vineyards

The full moon set in the west during our Monday morning walk. The sun rose in the east at the same time. Tasha chased birds. Moonset across Touraine vineyard parcels. We enjoyed very spring-like weather on Monday. I made an early morning run over to the supermarket for a new bottle of butane for the gas grill. I cleaned up the grill and got it ready for its first use of the season. We had chicken thighs and merguez (spicy beef and lamb sausages) on the grill, with broccoli and chick peas on th...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard, Touraine, Moonset


The end of winter

Spring arrives at 10h37 this morning here in France. You wouldn't know it by stepping outside. This morning we're at 1ºC (about 34ºF). Yes, many trees are in flower, some shrubs are making small leaves, and the daffodils and muscari (grape hyacinth) are blooming. But it's chilly. Our hamlet above the Cher at the end of winter. But now the days will be longer than the nights. And it will get warmer. It's time to start thinking about planting seeds in the greenhouse for tomatoes and squash. I ha...
Tags: Travel, Weather, France, WCS, The Vineyard, Garden Flowers Plants


Waiting for spring

Spring comes officially on Saturday, the vernal equinox. I'm ready. The past few weeks have been chilly. Certainly not frigid. No snow. But chilly nonetheless. And we've been having typical March rain squalls now and again. I'm not building fires because I'm effectively out of wood. There's a story there, but it will wait for another time. Grape vines wait patiently for some sunny and warm weather. The grape vines are ready for spring, too. Most of the pruning is done in the vineyard parcels a...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard


Le pliage

One of my readers recently asked how grape vine canes are attached to guide wires once pruning is done. In a step called pliage (folding or bending), the cane that remains after pruning is bent to the horizontal and attached to a wire. The cane can be wrapped around the wire with no other attachment, but most often (from what I see around here), the cane is attached to the wire with a kind of tie. A grape vine cane bent to the horizontal and attached to a guide wire with a twist tie. The tie i...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


There's clover over there

In one of the vineyard parcels out back, the grower sowed some variety of clover (so we were told) in every other row between vines. The seeds sprouted last fall, after the harvest, and filled in nicely over winter. I don't know whether this is for weed control, to help put nutrients into the soil, both, or neither. But it looks nice. Alternating rows of clover and cut vine canes in this parcel of sauvignon blanc. The vines in this parcel hadn't been pliées (folded) when I took this photo, but...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Smoke and ash

Speaking of vineyard parcels that are being replaced, these are two of the parcels out at the end of the road that were dug up last year. They've lain fallow over winter and I expect they will be plowed up for replanting this summer. But first, the old grape vine trunks needed to be dealt with. Two piles of ash last week, all that's left of the grape vine trunks. Last week I noticed that, where old trunks were piled, there are now piles of ashes. The piles were still smoldering when I saw them...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


Tasha Tuesday

This is the vineyard parcel just outside our back gate. It hasn't been pruned yet. In fact, it may not be pruned at all, but ripped out this spring. One of the guys that works for the owners of this parcel told me last year that one of the parcels near our house will be torn out this year and re-planted the following year. Maybe it's this one. I'll keep you posted. This photo is from a week ago. There are a lot more plum blossoms on that tree now. That flowering tree in the background center i...
Tags: Travel, Ken, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


State of the grapes

As spring gets nearer, the work in the vineyard picks up a little. Pruning has been going on since the harvest ended last fall. In parcel after parcel, the growers or their employees prune each grape vine back to a single cane, done by hand, of course. They line the cut canes up between vine rows. Then they go through and bend each uncut cane to the horizontal and tie it to a guide wire in a process they call pliage (folding). This parcel has been pruned, but not "folded" yet. You can see the ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


One year ago today

I'm still lacking in new photos. The weather has been crazy wet and I don't like taking the camera out in it. The river is flooding in the usual places down below. Tasha comes back from her walks soaked and muddy and needs an "undercarriage wash" after each one, mainly to rinse the sand off before it dries and falls all over the house. It still does, but to a lesser extent. Threatening skies over the vineyards, 04 February 2020. I don't know how the vineyard workers deal with the soggy ground,...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Ten years ago today

It was very much like it is today. It's cold, just below freezing. At this hour, before sunrise, the sky should be clear, but the stars are obscured by a thick fog layer. Temperature inversions trap winter fog on the ground. It could burn off after the sun rises, or not. The air is still and there is little to hear outside. The vineyard road at sunrise, 8 January 2011. The people who work in the vineyard are out there each day methodically cutting last year's canes from the vine trunks. That w...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, The Vineyard


A light dusting

When it got light outside on Monday morning, we noticed that it was snowing very gently. There was no wind, the flakes were small, but it was coming down. Tasha and I had a nice walk in the falling snow. It wasn't sticking to the road and other bare spots, but there was a light frosting on the vine trunks, posts, hedges, roofs, and some grassy spots. It was subtle and beautiful. Monday morning's view from our guest room window. After about an hour, the snow turned to rain and melted away the l...
Tags: Travel, Weather, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Back up the hill

After we finish our loop, it's time to head back up the hill toward the vineyards and home. Just before we get to the incline, we cross a stream bed that is normally pretty dry. But often in winter, because of rain, the low point in the walk is a muddy mess. And it's slippery. So, if we've had rainy weather, we don't go down the hill. Grape vines come into view as we approach the top of the hill. That's ok, because we have lots of paths we can take up here on the heights. Some of them get wet ...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard, Cher Valley


Dog on the move

When we first set out for our walks, Tasha is excited. She bounces around, back and forth, sniffing the ground for signs of whoever, or whatever, went before us. This is the start of Saturday afternoon's walk, not long before sunset. We headed down the hill from our back gate to the path that takes us further down into the river valley. Tasha knows the way by heart. Our route takes us down and around the vines you see on the right, then we head into the woods. Saturday was a pleasant, sunny, a...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Tasha, The Vineyard


Just another day

Our Thanksgiving meal was delicious. I didn't take any photos, but Ken did and I'm sure he'll post some soon. Now it's on to the leftovers. A whole leg of lamb for two people is a lot. Today we'll probably have cold slices of the roast with mayonnaise. Later, some of it will get chopped up for an hachis parmentier (a shepherd's pie). A last burst of fall color as we move toward December. And speaking of pies, I made a pumpkin pie for dessert. I thawed out more pumpkin than I needed for the pie...
Tags: Travel, Holidays, Ken, WCS, The Vineyard


All the vines are brown

Fall has done its thing in the vineyards. The brilliant golden leaves of the last months turned brown and dropped to the ground in nearly every parcel. The bare canes take on a reddish/orange color this time of year, but it's a much more subdued hue. As winter settles in, the canes will be pruned from the vines. Winter is coming.The grasses growing in the vine parcels is bright green. Some parcels have been neatly mowed, in some the weeds have been plowed up. Still other parcels seem to be growi...
Tags: Travel, WCS, The Vineyard


What's left

This is what's left after the mechanical harvesters pass through a vineyard parcel. The machines vibrate the grapes right off the stems then suck the debris (leaves and stray stems) away. When grapes are harvested by hand, the picker clips the entire bunch, stems and all, from the vine. Is one method better than another? I don't know. I suspect, however, that really ripe or fragile grapes would be damaged by the roughness of the mechanical process. Some wines, like Champagne and certain Beaujola...
Tags: Travel, WCS, Wine And Spirits, The Vineyard



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