Here’s how it’s been since the beginning of “winter”: one morning with ice that I had to scrape off the windshield, every other day between 16º and 22º C high and a low that never dropped under 9º.
Every day I watch the news to practice my French, and there is a weather forecast that I have learned keeps its weathermen in a cellar without windows and asks them to guess what will be going on outside. I understand them: it is extremely difficult to hit the right answer all the time. As a matter of fact, it seems difficult most of the time although occasionally they do get it right. Three days ago, I longingly gazed at a map of France on the screen that was bright yellow except for a small streak way up north. Then I looked out the window at the sheets of rain pouring down and asked myself how in the world the number one news station in the country could get away with such an ass-backwards prediction.
Yesterday we had one of the worst days since “winter” began (and I put it in quotes because as far as wintery weather goes, we have had none). It was dark (it had been for several days), the rain beat against all the windows in my apartment which meant the wind was going crazy because I have windows to the East, West and North, and the temperature at 11a.m. had actually dropped from its morning high of 9º, to a miserable 7º; for the rest of the day it struggled to get above 7º and lost.
So yesterday morning I watched the news during which the weather forecast spoke of a balmy 13º high and broken clouds. I had high hopes. I dressed accordingly in layers so as to be able to remove extra garments as the temperature rose. Actually, I found myself shivering most of the day, cursing the weatherman under my breath and even eating my lunch without removing my coat because I was so cold. My thermometer is my nose: if my nose is cold, I am cold and yesterday my nose was cold all day, even in my heated apartment.
Today I decided to be prepared.The weather man predicted a temperature between 9º and 12º but I knew he was lying; on the weather map the Aquitaine Region was blanketed with clouds and somewhat to the north, the country was black with heavy rain. I looked out the window. Yes, there were clouds, but here and there I could catch snatches of blue between them and the day was certainly brighter than it had been all week. Still, I thought that things could not have changed much in the 10 hours since my very cold evening walk with Salomé and, remembering my shivering of the previous noon, I dressed accordingly: a cotton undershirt with short sleeves, a red turtle-neck sweater, a brightly colored scarf made of llama wool (even warmer than sheep’s), woolen gloves and my heartiest winter jacket. I tucked an umbrella into my bag (just in case, because those heavy black clouds on the horizon could be coming or going depending on the direction of the wind), included Salomé’s raincoat, and stepped outside.
The weatherman had lied but my judgement based on the day before was not the way to go either. A soft warm breeze of 16º wafted across my cheeks and in two minutes I was perspiring under the winter-wear. Such a shame! Instead of being able to enjoy the weather I was now going to suffer through my 90 minutes of walk-coffee-market and home again either carrying my winter gear or roasting in it. By the time I reached the Thursday street market, the temperature had risen to 17º. It’s the 7th of January, for goodness sake! The weather has gone bananas! No wonder those poor weathermen locked in their windowless cellars can never guess right!
But it is not only the weathermen who are confused: it is Nature herself. There are small white daisies blooming on the still-green lawn, the so-called pâquerettes which are supposed to bloom around Easter week (Pâcques); dandelions are beginning to bud and some trees haven’t even lost all their leaves yet, while others are starting to flaunt their spring sprouts. This can be tragic if the weathermen are right –for once- about the temperatures dropping drastically next week and winter finally beginning, for this might freeze the buds on fruit trees and cancel any hope of harvest this year.
In the meantime, I have hung up my winter jacket, put away my llama scarf and woolen gloves, and taken out a more appropriate garment for walking to my favorite restaurant for lunch. And as far as ‘the weather going bananas’, well the farmers might as well have grown some of those this year instead of attempting apples.