7 year-old

Hard to believe it but our little girl is seven now. It was her birthday on Friday. We had a nice low-key day. It was their last day of school before the ‘ski holiday’ (2 week break at the end of February) – and Matea had one friend over for supper, cake etc.   She got to choose her favourite food – so we had crepes for supper – and a rainbow cake.  They played outside blowing bubbles, and painted, and played a bit of scrabble (en français).

Good time, nice day, great kid.

7 year-old



Hard to believe it but our little girl is seven now. It was her birthday on Friday. We had a nice low-key day. It was their last day of school before the ‘ski holiday’ (2 week break at the end of February) – and Matea had one friend over for supper, cake etc.   She got to choose her favourite food – so we had crepes for supper – and a rainbow cake.  They played outside blowing bubbles, and painted, and played a bit of scrabble (en français).

Good time, nice day, great kid.

Ski de Fond au Clair de Lune

Last Friday night I went on an evening ski trip with a bunch of guys from the French church that we partner with plus three of us from our church.  {tip of the hat to Justin who graciously risked carrying his camera so that I was free to have the chance to fall, break nothing of value, and still have the above photographic evidence}

It was a great time of just hanging out with a bunch of guys. There was a full moon -but most of the trail was deep in the woods – so you had only a head lamp to see where you were heading.  (note: this works about as well [read: ‘poorly’] as you would imagine when you are flying downhill)

The winter has been so warm and dry here this year that the first 75% of the trail was all snow that had been trucked in and groomed onto the trail  It was also mostly man made, and all of it has gone through so many freeze-thaw cycles in the last few weeks that it resemble a skating rink more than a ski trail in places.  So basically a very interesting place for those of us who have, shall we say, “limited” cross-country ski abilities.  (The last time I partook of this sport I believe was the last we lived here about 10 years ago when we went with a family where all four of them competed at a fairly high level.  So at least this time I wasn’t been shown-up by a 6 year old!)

The plan was to meet at 5:30, drive up to the trails, start skiing by 6:30 – and it should take us – we were told “45min to an hour – tranquillement”  Well  – as this is France- none of those things happend in the temporal manner they were supposed to. I believe it was closer to 7:30 or so when we finally started out – and by the time all 14 of us made it to the refuge the trek had taken 1hr 45. Then we all sat down in this little alpine refuge that you can only get to by skiing (or snow-shoeing) to have supper together. To start we had tobinambour soup with a pastry baked right on top, roasted duck on a cornmeal base covered with mashed potatoes plus a salad as a main, and a baked apple with sugar, cranberries and sauce for dessert –  plus the obligatory bottles of house wine and coffe to finish off. I have no idea what time it was when we finally finished our meal but it must have been quite late as it took about 1/10 of the time to get back to the cars – and it was around midnight by the time we arrived there.  The strange thing (well at least for those of us raised in Canada where winter=pain) is that it was still only -3 out.   It was 1:15 when Matt dropped me off at home.  

To make it a truly French experience we were almost hit head-on by someone who decided to pass on a blind turn on the windy narrow mountain road heading back in to the city.

It was one of those experiences that we’ve had since arriving here that in some strange way seems so very natural, normal, and is nothing unexpected – and at the very same time can feel so foreign and once-in-a-life-time-ish that you aren’t sure how to take it all in.

Ski de Fond au Clair de Lune

Last Friday night I went on an evening ski trip with a bunch of guys from the French church that we partner with plus three of us from our church.  {tip of the hat to Justin who graciously risked carrying his camera so that I was free to have the chance to fall, break nothing of value, and still have the above photographic evidence}

It was a great time of just hanging out with a bunch of guys. There was a full moon -but most of the trail was deep in the woods – so you had only a head lamp to see where you were heading.  (note: this works about as well [read: ‘poorly’] as you would imagine when you are flying downhill)

The winter has been so warm and dry here this year that the first 75% of the trail was all snow that had been trucked in and groomed onto the trail  It was also mostly man made, and all of it has gone through so many freeze-thaw cycles in the last few weeks that it resemble a skating rink more than a ski trail in places.  So basically a very interesting place for those of us who have, shall we say, “limited” cross-country ski abilities.  (The last time I partook of this sport I believe was the last we lived here about 10 years ago when we went with a family where all four of them competed at a fairly high level.  So at least this time I wasn’t been shown-up by a 6 year old!)

The plan was to meet at 5:30, drive up to the trails, start skiing by 6:30 – and it should take us – we were told “45min to an hour – tranquillement”  Well  – as this is France- none of those things happend in the temporal manner they were supposed to. I believe it was closer to 7:30 or so when we finally started out – and by the time all 14 of us made it to the refuge the trek had taken 1hr 45.

Then we all sat down in this little alpine refuge that you can only get to by skiing (or snow-shoeing) to have supper together. To start we had tobinambour soup with a pastry baked right on top, roasted duck on a cornmeal base covered with mashed potatoes plus a salad as a main, and a baked apple with sugar, cranberries and sauce for dessert –  plus the obligatory bottles of house wine and coffe to finish off. I have no idea what time it was when we finally finished our meal but it must have been quite late as it took about 1/10 of the time to get back to the cars – and it was around midnight by the time we arrived there.  The strange thing (well at least for those of us raised in Canada where winter=pain) is that it was still only -3 out.   It was 1:15 when Matt dropped me off at home.

To make it a truly French experience we were almost hit head-on by someone who decided to pass on a blind turn on the windy narrow mountain road heading back in to the city.

It was one of those experiences that we’ve had since arriving here that in some strange way seems so very natural, normal, and is nothing unexpected – and at the very same time can feel so foreign and once-in-a-life-time-ish that you aren’t sure how to take it all in.

Elevation

It’s cool and rainy here today. Well, at least it is here at our house, it’s snowing just a little bit up from us.

That difference is one of the things that struck me as truly strange when we first arrived here – how important elevation is to your daily life.    

Pretty much everyone who lives up out of the city (on any of the three mountain ranges around Grenoble) can tell you the elevation of their house, often to within 10m or less. Some places are even have their elevation as part of the actual name. When there is precipitation you are told the limite pluie/neige. It is something that seems to be as natural to speak of up here as your neighborhood would be in a normal city.

Although the area around Grenoble truly does experience four full seasons – it seems that altitude is one of the key factors that moderates them.  Elevation changes temperature, and therefore also rain vs. snow, and therefore skiing, driving, living conditions etc.   (our house is about 690m above sea level, in case you were wondering).

I have been told that – all else held equal – the temperature drops 0.6 degrees for every additional 100m of elevation.  We are close to 500m above Grenoble – which means that there is almost always a few degrees of difference between our house and the city.  However, since Grenoble is in a bit of a Y-shaped valley (two rivers coming in -merging and heading out as one) and thus three mountain ranges around it – the city can also get some strange inversions that can drop the temperature to be colder than us, or can have weather systems that sit on the city and absolutely trap the head (and smog) in the summer time.

Living in Grenoble, you would  never need snow tires, up where we are, you could possibly get away without them – but would be resigned to parking your car at the bottom of certain hills and walking home a few days a year.  Up just 10 kilometers past us you would (in a normal year – this year not being normal) likely need snow-chains to ensure you can get into your driveway.

One other strange thing that really shocked me the first time I learned it was the elevation of Grenoble.  Much of the city is around 200m above sea level.   To put that in context – when you are in Grenoble, surrounded by mountains, looking up at snow capped peaks and within a short drive of world-class ski resorts – you are almost half a kilometer LOWER than when you are sitting on the prairies in Edmonton.  (I know, weird right?!)