Sunday, February 8, 2015

Red sky at night



The Mistral winds were predicted to reach up to 130 kilometers per hour today. "We have never had 130!" I exclaimed to Remi with just a tiiiny bit of anxiety rising in my voice. "Yes, we have," he responded without missing a beat, "on the night when we first arrived." 

It was 1am. Remi had driven the 20 meters-cubed truck - packed to the gills with all of our belongings - down from Paris in 8 hours. We both were so exhausted from the day that we were nearly stuck after having taken a wrong way turn on a one way street in Arles. Our nerves were beyond shot and then we realized that there was no way that he was going to be able to back the truck into the tiny street in front of our house. I didn't know if I wanted to scream or to cry. As a saving gift from the gods, there was one parking space available left in the nearby lot. We took it, grabbed our Buddha, locked the truck and prayed for the best. 

At the first step we were blasted backwards. I started to lose my footing until Remi grabbed my arm. A patrolling police car passed at that moment and we flagged them down, first to ask if they thought that the truck would be all right ("Not for long" was the reply) then to enquire if the force of the wind was normal. I remember that the police man shrugged and said, "Welcome to Arles" but that might be my memory playing games. We found that the hood of the truck had been ripped off from the roof the next morning. No one in Paris believed us when we told them it had been done by the wind.

Tonight, I can hear the Mistral breathing. At the equivalent of 81 miles per hour, it is roaring well past the minimum wind speed of a hurricane. There have been warnings at niveau orange through several regions in the South on the national news. Remi kindly took the dogs out this evening and the house is closed up tight.  Red sky at night? It may be a sailor's delight but this landlubber will admire it from afar. Safe and sound, yes but I am also respectful of nature, always.



22 comments:

  1. WOW - sounds scary but SO BEAUTIFUL!!! Why is the orange color associated with the high winds?? I must be forgetting something from science class, but it is crazy beautiful! I experienced the mistral winds of Arles many Christmases ago - one word: brrrrrrrrrrrr!!!! I'm glad that Remi walked the pups and that you guys are safe and sound; also selfishly glad that you took these amazing photos and shared them with us!

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    1. Sister, I think that it is just that the sky is literally swept clean by the winds - but doesn't it look like sunsets in San Diego?

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  2. Yes it is always wise to be respectful of nature. It is blowing here too though not as strong but we're supposed to get a Force 8 wind tomorrow and lots of rain.We are finally getting a winter this year. Last year it felt like autumn right until it was time for spring. Keep warm and safe.

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  3. "Batten down the hatches!" .. Hopefully Remi returned with both dogs in tow .. though I suspect there may be many flying furballs in Arles today! Kites anyone?

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  4. Beautiful photos of the sky, and I'd be nervous about that wind too. Batten down the hatches! xxoo

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  5. Stay safe, and stay warm. A two dog night will work every time!

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  6. We have our mistral equivalent ( the nor'west) blowing a gale today. Not quite as fierce as your mistral but there is dust everywhere, so I have the doors and windows shut tight. Wonder if we will get a beautiful sunset as compensation for the wild wind.

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    1. Ah, we have a similar wind: the Sirocco. It is a rare wind that blows north from Morocco and brings the red sands of the Sahara with it!

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  7. Hope you survived the night and all is well!!!! Amazing skies even though they do promise strange occurrences - fingers crossed for you _ Cheers!!

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  8. I just stumbled upon your blog via other blogs I follow. It's rather like going down the rabbit hole in Alice and Wonderland. Having spent a few days Arles and l'Isle sur la Sorgue in October and planning a weeks' stay at a gite in Goult in May, I enjoy reading of the places in Provence you write about. Perhaps you could give a suggestion as to a village or site we should not miss for this trip. So far, Aix en Provence and Carrieres des Lumieres in Les Baux are on our list, along with a day trip to Cassis to view les calanques. Any other out-of-the-way places you can recommend? Mercia vous! Susan Bauer/FB site As Seen By Susan

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    1. Susan, I am so sorry to be nearly a week late in responding to this! Your choices are all great and I think that you will love Goult - it is charming and as off the radar as you can hope for in such a location. In that area, I would definitely suggest that you visit Loumarin (good eats options there too) and Oppede le Vieux plus a quick walk through Joucas/Gordes (and the view opposite Gordes on the way to the Abbaye de Senanque is lovely too).

      I also love the area of Simiane-la-Rotonde, Banon and Sault (although the lavender won't be ready yet).

      For Les Baux, I would park at the entry to the village and walk to les Carrieres as it is too crazy to park closer, just trust me. And dress warmly as even in May it will be freezing in there. If you go to the chateau, go at sunset and take a bottle of wine as you can leave whenever you like (aka after the official closing time). Also look on the map for Roman Aqueduct near Fontveille. And lunch on the square or an apero in Maussane is lovely. Also stop for olive oil at the Co-operative Jean Moulin there...the best!

      I also like Eygalieres - lunch at Sous les Micocouliers, a walk up the hill, out to see St Sixte and a stop at the Depot Vente on the D24!

      Aix is amazing. Plan for a whole day and there are great eats. Take a look at the france board on Chowhound.

      For Cassis, definitely do the touristy thing and take the boat to see the calanques as you can't drive there but do so before lunch not after in case there are waves. And the Baie de Mahoghany there is one of my favorite spots in the South...

      But don't do too much! Just enjoy!!

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  9. Mistral is one of those experiences that is so horrifying that it looks like a dream except it’s real.

    It looks like the sun became clumsy and burned itself.

    How often does it happen?

    The photo is a painting of enormous intensity.

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    1. It totally depends on how often they arrive but the local belief is that when they do they last 3,6 or 9 days.

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  10. Respectful of nature ...indeed...as an Aussie girl that is ingrained in our psyche here....nature is SO powerful....in a good and a bad way....

    On the flip side, there is something sort of dramatically exciting about sheltering from a storm...

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    1. Yes! We were super cosy. Yesterday too when it was raining buckets!

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  11. That sounds very scary. Your photos are gorgeous. I agree with GD...it is thrilling to wait out a storm, from the inside of your home.

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  12. Seems like it has been super windy around the globe lately. It was very windy in Germany yesterday and also in KY!

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  13. SO,how did you get the TRUCK un-packed???Did you find the hood?SO, many adventures................
    A little book................should be in your future!
    XO

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  14. Heather this reminds me so much of the winter sunsets in Southern California, the evening sky's just so bright and colorful!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Featuring The HighBoy

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  15. Beautiful! Wind is perhaps the scariest weather to me as I live among many towering oaks. In 2012, we had a freak derecho in the Midwest. In less than ten minutes it went from sunny and hot to 80mph winds and a black sky! My brand new, beautiful convertible was out of the garage because I was organizing my spray paint shelf! My brother was at my house because it was a Friday afternoon and he was hungry. So this storm appears from oblivion and we are standing in my stair well headed for the basement. Im holding my cat in one hand and calling my neighbor with the other when my brother turns around heading outside to move my car. I dropped the phone and the cat flew out of my grasp while I actually grabbed my brother and stopped him from going out. Less than 30 seconds later, a 14 inch in diameter oak branch falls from 70 feet above with the brunt of the weight on the driver's side. We stood there stunned thinking how terribly it could have ended. wind is not to be tested! You're wise to hunker down and stay in.

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    1. I can't stop thinking about this story, Stephen! Thank goodness you listened to your instincts...yet again!

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