“Carnaval” – is spring finally here?

This evening we’ve been invited next door for crepes – just a day late – it’s Cendres (Ash Wednesday) today; yesterday was Mardi-gras, Carnaval, or Pancake Day.

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Strange the names and customs for the start of lent. Carnival goes back to the latin – “farewell to meat” – but means so much more these days. There have been  carnival clothes available in the shops for weeks now, and many “carnivals” particularly involving children at the end of their spring holiday locally. And of course, the great “carnivals” in Venice and other Italian towns and cities.

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Then again the Spanish and South American traditions of Mardi-gras or “fat tuesday” as seen in the Carnival celebrations in Rio and other places.

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The English affair is a little tame – Pancake Tuesday compares poorly with Carnival and Mardi-gras, and perhaps reflects the Puritan influence of “Shrove Tuesday”, the traditional English name which refers to being ‘shriven’ or confessed and forgiven one’s sins.

One could be forgiven for thinking that these are a reflection of pagan spring festivals rather than the approach of the penitential season of Lent. Especially on such a day as today when the sun is shining, the spring flowers in bloom, the catkins on the trees, the birds are singing (we are of course well past St. Valentine now!). Such a contrast from our last few postings of just a fortnight ago. Is spring here at last? Do we have a good summer to look forward to? 

“Hope springs eternal…” !!!

primula

Bob

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Update on the snow!

It’s continued all day – and now we have a really thick blanket of snow –

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to this –021

And this –

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to this –

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Already the icicles are starting to form, and more snow (flurries!) forecast overnight and tomorrow.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens: in the meantime we’ve stoked the fire and the central heating, brought in a pile of wood and knocked the snow off; and helped the neighbours clear their stairs, and get some wood in. Time to batten down for the night I think.

Bob

Yet more snow!!

Just look at what we awoke to today –

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After strong, and bitterly cold winds yesterday, it went quiet overnight, and this morning there was an eerie silence, without the usual traffic noise – the sound of the few cars on the road muffled by a couple of inches of snow. 

The house itself, and all the trees in the garden are blanketed with the snow –

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The meteo had forecast some snow flurries overnight, and continuing through the day – I’d say this was more than a few flurries. The 40-year old Christmas tree, planted out after their first Christmas by the people who built the house, and which now has pride of place in the garden looks even more magnificent than ever – pity it’s the last day of Christmas (Candlemas, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple) today.

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Do French children not play in the snow, or have snow-ball fights?!?  Last weekend, talking with a French neighbour about the possibility of snow this week, she asked “Is it really true that children in Scotland play out in the snow?” Marjory, born in Scotland, assured her that this was the case!!

On a different, but related, note, last weekend was the annual count of garden birds, organised by the Normandy Ornithological Group (GON). Very important this year after the coldest winter in these parts for over 50 years. I used to take part in a similar exercise with the RSPB in England, and really do need to get myself organised to join GON next year. If you’re interested in ornithology in these parts (just a few years ago we had English guests thrilled to have seen Hoopoes at Surtainville), you can find out more from Gon’s website – www.gonm.org

Bob