Autumn falls, first snows

First snows Luz Saint Sauveur

Église des Templiers, Luz Saint Sauveur

Wake early. Throw back the shutters. Lying in bed watching the snowflakes softly tumble from the slate grey sky. No secret what it all means. I’ve heard the storks overhead in the night, flying south to sunnier climbs. I’ve felt the chill in the morning air. But with the appearance of the first snows down here in the valley these past few weeks and the opening of the ski stations this weekend, it’s made it all that bit more official.

First snows on the valley

First snows in the valley

The golden days of Autumn seem to have only just begun, and yet here they are already ending in a flurry of misty mornings and first snows. The days are growing noticeably shorter and we are lighting the wood-burner earlier every day. There’s no doubt about it: Winter is here!

Autumn leaves and winter snow at Solférino

Autumn leaves and winter snow at Solférino

This will be my fifth winter out here in the Pyrenees. But I’m never quite ready for this, the abruptness of the changing seasons. What happened to the balmy nights of September, still sleeping with the doors and windows open? What happened to our autumn rambles throughout October, foraging for chestnuts, walnuts and wild mushrooms?

This being the Pyrenees of course, it only takes the wind to turn direction and we may well be eating lunches out on the balcony again by next week. That’s the way our weather goes down here. But even if it warms up tomorrow, it’s too late now. The cold has happened. The first snows have fallen. The first fires have been lit. We’ve had our first ski-touring outing of this new season. And yesterday I hit the sunny slopes of Barèges for my first down-hill ski of the season too.

First snows Luz Saint Sauveur