Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is winter on the way out?

Though today is chilly and damp, yesterday was glorious, as was in fact quite a number of days last week. The north wind barreling through brought the sunshine, and when it decided to stop gusting and knocking us about, it left us a magnificent few days to revel, wander, walk and awaken.

Where in other worlds the ground hog came out and looked at his shadow (which he did or didn't see, I'm afraid I've not been following the news...), here we are simply grateful to be in a land where an early February walk by the Rhône or amongst the leafless winter vines is a pleasurable possibility.

As usual, I do these walks accompanied by dogs. Filou is my faithful companion, greeting all and sundry who cross our paths, sniffing butts and snouts equally, leaping, barking, dashing after a runner or two, and then back to my side. Quite clearly, he's checking out the world around us, protecting me from possible predators, right? On the island we're joined by Saline, the large and lovely mutt of our neighbors who could be my second dog. And when at the winery, there is the new puppy who arrived on Christmas day, Perro. I suppose when one's human goes for a walk, it is a time for bounding joy. Don't you agree?

As we cross the Rhône into Avignon in the morning on our way to school, we are greeted -- for the first time in two months -- by the brilliantly orange disk of the sun, sitting just above a point somewhat to the south of the Pope's palace. It has moved back north from its furthest winter solstice position, but still has a ways to go.

And, as I so gratefully felt and absorbed, the sun is with us far later into the evening. Four thirty felt early to come home from what had started out as an hour's walk, and what easily became two. How to leave that light?

And it did not leave me, but left its mark. My cheeks are red from a touch of late winter sun burn, my lips chapped and sensitive. Ah well. It is all worth it.

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