Our house faces East at the front, whereas most village houses face South, and are at right angles to the village road. Back in the eighteenth century, we wondered if whoever built it, was a self-aggrandiser, who wanted to make a big statement about his importance and presence in the village. He might have been that, but, recently, we discovered that back then, the rear of the house was totally protected from the Westerlies ( our prevailing weather direction) by a forest of oak trees which extended as far as the Adour river, 2 fields away. This morning, as an exceptional freezing fog lifted to brilliant sunshine, I was struck by the frosted silhouette of an oak tree in the field where the forest had been, adding grandeur to our garden horizon and the birch tree, so tiny when we first came nearly 13 years ago.
The freeze this winter has been unlike any other we have experienced in the house. At least half of December and all of this month, temperatures at night have hovered around -4C or down to -7C several times, and not got into double figures at all during the day. I keep doing morning checks to see what may be in trouble in the garden, and I am actually astonished not to find corpses everywhere. I think that this is solely due to the dryness of the soil, and the fact that we have had very little rain- which may presage a wet Spring- but then, who knows anymore what is normal. Don’t talk to me about Trump.
Today will be the last of the bitter cold, they say.