Snowed in or Living it Up





Waking up the next morning was a delight. Completely forgotten was last night uncomfortable feeling of being snowed in. We truly were lost in wonder. A largely unusual, dazzling and rather exotic landscape was stretching out before our bewitched eyes.

S.P.’s phone rang. It was V., his childhood friend, who had settled down in Brittany a couple of years before. V. is a very experienced snowboarder whose only regret after moving definitely to Brittany is being so far away from the Alps.

“We all are very busy”, he said. “But this is something so unusual that I vote for a snowboarding session at Les Tertres. I brought my snowboard over when I moved from Paris."

Where then? Well, in the meadow that slopes down along the garden and ends on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the beach.

Why not?

In brief, we’d have only one snowboard handy but we could convert one of our many wakeboards into a sled… This is called being resourceful. Now the only problem we had was finding the right and very warm clothes to have fun in the deep snow for a few hours!  

It was sunny and yet much colder than the night before. We have no mountain/snow gear in Brittany for a very good reason. We had to be inventive, adding up layers of sweaters, slipping on waterproof boating pants over our regular pants and for lack of anything better, we put on very old pairs of snowboarding socks (meant to end as polishing stuff for ages). The brilliant finishing touches were rubber boots for some of us…

V. arrived without further delay, on foot and carrying his snowboard. He doesn’t live very far away but the narrow road was blocked by snowdrifts. Snowdrifts 800 meters from the beach!

He insisted on wearing a mask since he is a very active sea rescuer and does a lot of training in teams even in wintertime. Remember, those were harsh Covid times.

Our first move was to pack down the powder snow and make a couple of ski runs of sorts. Snowboarding is a very serious undertaking. No ski-lifts though, which is something that our V. remarked upon when tasked with the chore of preparing the grounds. There were several tries. And then we all had a field day that lasted for a few hours!



We weren't snowed in for too long. Within three days, roads were cleared, naturally of course. The coastal part of Brittany is not really well-equipped with snowploughs, etc. Which is not hard to understand  with one snowstorm every fifty years or more. But with such a drastic climate change though, snowstorms may become more and  more common - routine maybe. 
This snowy episode which really took us off guard will be one of our best memories from Les Tertres, especially in Covid times. We were very close to a third national lockdown and we had no idea of what life would be like for months to come. 
Carpe diem!
*Good Night and Good Luck* 




Didn't it Snow , Children... Didn't it, Didn't it, Didn't it... Didn't it Snow?




“She” sent a message from faraway lands. “I am packing for good. Will I need my snow boots?” He had a good chuckle over it. She had never enjoyed the snowy winters in Boston. Wasn’t she lucky to spend her first European winter in Brittany where it never snows, at least where we are living - by the sea and with the Gulf Stream floating around our coast!

So the answer was no. No need to bring her snow boots. Those would wait until the following winter in London… maybe…

New Year’s Eve surprised us with a flurry of snowflakes which vanished within the next hour… 

Fall and early winter had been exceptionally warm and wet. So wet that torrents of rainwater flowing from the fields had dug deep canyons on the beach below our house, something that was hard to believe and even harder to cross during our daily walks.


Then it became sunnier and much colder. "She" was a brave soldier but one could easily see that she was missing the Indian scorching heat.

On the 8th of February, our national weather forecast sent out a heavy snow warning for our coastal area… which it kept repeating every hour. Strange! We usually shrug off most of those warnings. Météo France has lost its credibility ever since 1999 when our meteorologists didn’t even realise that France was going to be hit by a serious hurricane. Plus heavy snow on a coastal area, who could believe it?

On the 9th, it started snowing in the early morning hours. A few snowflakes here and there… By noon, the skies were darkening and we were heading right into a real snowstorm, the kind of which most Britons had probably never seen in Brittany. On the ground, the dusting had turned into a thin blanket of snow. A few hours later, it was metamorphosing into a rather thick comforter everywhere.

We kept shrugging it off. By the end of the day, it was bound to stop and melt at least in our area. We live right above the beach for goodness sake and this is Brittany, not New England!

Guess what? The snowstorm did not abate. Not at all and a strong northern wind started to blow. The sea could hardly be seen but it was rumbling at the bottom of the cliff.

Around 5 pm, we couldn’t resist to brave the snowstorm (even though we were so ill-equipped). The wind was biting and temperatures were falling and heading below freezing point. But out we went. 



We wanted to take a short walk around the garden, which was very daring! We start swimming quite early in the season and our natural pond is not heated of course but taking a walk during a snowstorm fueled by a nasty northern wind, this was eccentric and maybe raving madness!



We ended up being very surprised by the thickness of the blanket of snow stepped up by the wind in some areas. The snow was already sticking to the plants which were bending beneath its weight. It was an amazing sight. Beautiful but worrisome. Plants, bushes and trees, they all looked so pitiful... and cold!


Because we had never done such a crazy thing in such a long time, we started building a snowman. We enjoyed every minute of it of course, feeling so young again… and wondering how many snowmen we had ever built considering the places where we had been spending most winters in our life!

Our snowman was great! Tall and fat. I have to admit it lacked decorations - no carrot-nose, no scarf, no real smile. A victim to a dire lack of time. It was getting dark and honestly, did we, being grown-ups after all,  did we really need a fancy snowman? Plus we were convinced that it would collapse pretty soon over the lawn which was already breaking out wherever we had used the blanket of snow to handcraft the three balls… It might even disappear during the night, not running away of course but melting exactly the way its fellow creatures depart every winter. No exception granted to a snowman from Les Tertres…

And then we went back in. We took off most of our layers. A nice fire was roaring in the fireplace but no chestnuts roasting there. (Not really Breton!)

I remember we settled down on the couch to sip a nice cup of Rooibos. It was completely dark outside and we had no idea nor any desire to open the door nor a window to check if it was still snowing.

“Mañana será otro día”, said Popeye, reminiscing about some very cold winters of his youth in Madrid and acknowledging he never had as much fun in his youth as during this weird snowy episode in Brittany, by the sea.

And someone was really feeling sorry she had listened to her husband and left her snow boots at her parents’ place where the temperature was currently 35°C at night!

And this someone got even sorrier when we turned the garden lights on just before going to bed, precisely to check on the thawing process. The joke was on us! Thank you, Météo France! We were snowed in and it was still snowing...





*Good Night, and Good Luck*


INTERLUDE - Frozen Frame







Unruffled by our presence, she kept watching for her next meal and then she jumped down and vanished from sight. To this day I am still filled with wonder and very frustrated to live so far away from Kruger Park, South Africa.



“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
(Robert Capa)






Well, to recap... Whatever Part It Is... Trying to Achieve Closure



I am “home” in Paris, a living environment that is still rather new for me but not for Popeye. Some days it is hard to reappropriate my space because it is so unfamiliar. But it gets better and better every time  I am back from Brittany where I have felt so safe for much too long. Nowadays there isn’t one single cardboard box lying around anymore. Unopened, I mean… My study is looking great with all my books finally on shelves all around me… Thank you, children! And the whole house is very comfy and welcoming… Thank you, all of us!

Now that everything has been sorted, I feel freer to go outside. Stepping out in Paris is still very stressing. Most people don’t wear masks and mingle freely in stores and venues. I have this feeling (fear actually) that my life will never be the same again no matter what. I just feel so distressed and that’s the unadorned truth, I actually feel scared, really scared from time to time. Those two years spent mainly in voluntary confinement in a very safe and isolated place have changed me so deeply that I feel almost unfit to resume life in society.

I know I am still in danger because nobody knows what Covid-19 can do to me with my medical history. I am not sure I would really like to go through another bad experience like my friend C. (who caught Covid during chemo a few weeks ago). People around me have been vaccinated and “boosterized” just like me but they get sick nevertheless, some very badly and others with a couple of very light symptoms, all of them different. So all I hear while trying to come back into real life is : “Be very careful!”. I am careful and I really would like to resume a normal life and then I hear it again and again : “Be very, very, very careful!”

A few months ago, we decided to move forward a little bit. We took a couple of trips. They were very enjoyable but not as enjoyable as they might have been. I saw so many people looking and acting very comfortable while I was shrinking back from time to time…

It didn’t help talking with one of my doctors who has been one of the first cases of Covid-19 in France, in April 2020. The experience scared (scarred?) him so much that he still has problems relaxing and having a normal social life.

I was looking through pictures from 2020 the other day since I’d really like to resume blogging again, probably my way to achieve closure. It really bothers me that my last post ends with “To be continued…” and dates from the end of March 2021.

I was rather hit again by the fact that we did live for so long in complete isolation. I knew this of course but it did not help to look at those three sad people walking on deserted beaches or in the garden… Waiting desperately for the missing one so far away… And very unhappy...

There was a very happy wedding in February but our children ended up living apart for ten long months because of lockdowns and tightly closed borders.

I found again the “picture of our daughter's picture” I had printed on a transparency and glued on the plate glass that’s between our kitchen and the living room so that our girl would be there closer to us than in a frame! But honestly this really didn’t work much to alleviate the pain of separation, especially for her husband even though her steadfast smile was most of the time very helpful through our personal lockdown tensions.


And then early December, one phone call… R. had been contacted by the French embassy… She was allowed to fly back to France on the 11th of December… There were so many practical problems to be solved that we decided to really rejoice only when R. would be with us in Brittany for Christmas.

France was again in lockdown since the end of October. SP had to fill forms and prepare several written proofs to be able to drive back to Paris, meet his wife at the airport and drive back with her to Brittany where they were supposed to stay until… until we had no idea when…

R. would also have to quarantine for ten days and take a new Covid test before being allowed to move from Paris.

So yes, there was rejoicing in Brittany but after ten long months and so many uncertainties, we could only hope that things would go well. We also worried about her parents. India was still in a very strict lockdown. R.’s mom had lost her younger brother to Covid a few months before without being able to grieve properly with her family. There would never be a traditional wedding, such an important event for Indian families. Their daughter was flying away to a faraway country to live with a family (including their son-in-law) they barely knew. They knew we loved her very much but remember, those were Covid times filled with so much anguish…

Since no trains were running, SP drove away a couple of days before R. was supposed to fly back to Paris on the first  French flight allowed to repatriate French nationals and Indian spouses… We waited and waited until we heard that R. was on board. The plane did take off almost on time because due to lockdown, there was almost no smog above Delhi.

And yes, R. landed in Roissy. They were wearing masks for their long awaited reunion… and R. started her ten days long quarantine in our new home.

Eleven days later, the young couple drove back to Brittany, right on time for R.’s first Christmas in France with her husband and her in-laws. 


At long last, there were four plates again on the table… A few months later, there would be only two plates left on our table in Brittany but this would be perfectly alright since there would also be two plates on their own table in London! 




*Good Night, and Good Luck*