After a wonderful visit to London (Londres as it is called in France), we are back in lovely Bordeaux. And to our surprise, it was sunny when we landed. For the past 4 weeks, we have seen light rain nearly every day. The highs are in the 50s and lows in the 40s but since it rains so often, it feels colder. I should mention here that I really don’t like being cold. One of the reasons I love living in the South is that our window of cold is very condensed. In many ways, the Bordeaux winter has been similar to a Birmingham in terms of temperature but in Bordeaux, it is always a wet cold.
In Birmingham, our January weather is basically cold and rainy too. Rarely does it snow, although this year they have had their fair share. The biggest difference between the 50s in Birmingham and 50s in Bordeaux is the access to sunlight. In Birmingham, when it rains, it rains. Almost like the sky opens up and just unleashes a waterfall of rain. Sometimes it feels like it is coming down from the sky and up from the ground at the same time. A 50 yard walk from the parking deck to my building can leave me as wet as I am when I step out of the shower. But after an hour or so it generally stops and then we are back to those famous Alabama blue skies. In Bordeaux, it has been cloudy nearly every day. The sky spits and sputters lightly down on us as we walk to the store, school and work. It’s not enough to need an umbrella, just enough to be annoying.
The funniest part about the rain is that it goes from spitting to what I would call a light rain with the flip of a switch. I say light rain here because it is nothing like the routine deluges we are used to in Alabama. When the light rain happens, the Bordelais smartly find an awning to duck under or a building to get close to because they know it will pass and go back to that misty fog within 10 minutes. We have learned from observing them that this is the best way to manage the weather unless you want to carry an umbrella…which I don’t. I can’t stand umbrellas. The businesses here don’t much appreciate you bringing wet umbrellas in to their establishments anyways.
I actually prefer the snow to cold and rainy. My family live in Colorado and I was raised in Michigan. I don’t mind the snow at all as long as the city/county know how to remove it. In fact, I prefer snowy and 25 to rainy and 35 any day of the week. Luckily, everything else about Bordeaux is so new and interesting that weather doesn’t keep us inside much. We have gone down to the docks many a drizzly Saturday to roller blade, run, or scoot.
So when we landed and it was sunny, we joked that the pilot may have landed somewhere else. It was so great to see the sunshine. But it was still really cold. The other thing I miss about Alabama winters are the random breaks in the cold monotony. We usually can pull off one day in the 60s every week or so. It’s not warm enough to leave my jacket at home but it feels warm. We just haven’t had a break in the cold since we have been here. Not one break.
In Alabama, when I get sick of the cold, I start looking at plane tickets to the Caribbean. We are closer to Jamaica than Colorado and the beach starts to call me. The same thing has happened here. I have been asking around about where the Bordelais go to escape the cold and have gotten answers ranging from the Caribbean to Portugal to North Africa. The people I have talked to swear this is the worst January they can remember. Some have even asked if I brought the terrible weather with me. So that gives me hope. Maybe one day, this tempest (as they call it) will turn the corner and the overcast skies will part revealing that sun we saw when we landed. It is February so we are that much closer to spring. For now though, it’s back outside for a damp, cold walk to get my son from school.