Where are you Spring?March 12, 2010
What is wrong with this weather? Where is the Provençal spring I had been dreaming about the past two weeks? Quelle horreur! Ten minutes before arriving at our train stop in Valence, Raphael woke me. I sat up groggily and looked out the window. To my horror, the ground was covered in a fine layer of white – snow! Raphael had warned me that the weather had taken a turn and it had snowed Sunday through Monday. Enough that they closed the schools Monday morning. I didn’t think much of it. It doesn’t take much snow to close a school in Provence. It sometimes only takes the possibility of snow for the locals to worry.
That’s what happened during Olivia’s first year of school. One Tuesday in February I arrived at the school to pick her up and received a notice from the director asking all parents to keep their kids home on Thursday, if possible, as the weather is calling for snow. I walked outside with Olivia and looked around. The day was sunny and warmish giving a hint of an early spring. They’re crazy, I thought to myself as we walked leisurely to the boulangerie for a pain au chocolat. Sure enough the temperature did drop to near freezing by Wednesday night and on Thursday morning a few flurries were blowing around in the wind. So few that, in Pittsburgh, people would probably not even notice as they went about their day. I was new enough in Provence that I bundled Olivia up and headed out to school. It wasn’t closed but few teachers had risked the weather to show up and even fewer students occupied the classrooms. The teacher looked nervous and mentioned that she lived far out in the country and she worried about getting home that afternoon. I decided to take Olivia home. I’m sure I had a look of disbelief on my face as we made our way off school grounds.
Last weekend’s snowfall was much more than the flurries of Olivia’s first year. And it came as a surprise. A strawberry farmer south of us lost his entire production. Good thing we’re late in planting our garden. My in-laws spent the weekend at the sea. On Saturday, they said, people were swimming. Sunday morning promised the same. They called Raphael mid morning and said they’d be back later that evening. You’d better come sooner he told them. It’s snowing here and not planning to stop soon. They left shortly after and hit snow around Nimes. So much snow, they said, they couldn’t see the road.
As we neared home, a good hour south of Valence, I happily noted less and less snow on the ground. There are only a few patches in the courtyard and along the sides of the road. But the weather is barely above freezing during the day and falls below freezing at night. And it’s windy. I had been planning on packing up the heavy sweaters, hats and gloves this weekend. Guess that’ll wait a little longer. I left the girls’ snow boots in Pittsburgh. This weather makes Pittsburgh look balmy. I imagine everyone I left behind is laughing now. Spring will be here soon. I have faith. A sure sign, the almond trees are blooming their pale pink blossoms. And once it arrives, there will be no mid April snowfalls that haunt the northeast United States.