Normandy is a wonderful place to live. But, you have to be pretty generous and open-minded with the weather.
The advantage is that you’re never bored. Still, you’re never quite sure how to dress, either.
Some of you ladies might remember back in the 70's, making your mothers absolutely crazy by wearing short sleeved sweaters over top of long sleeved blouses or turtlenecks under baby doll tops and such.
This trend saw my mother teaching me how to do my own laundry and ironing. I remember too well, her impatience with the family laundry pile doubling in volume over night. So at age 12, I became laundry-proficient. She was pleased.
And I learned how to dress for unexpected weather.
In Dieppe, a seaside fishing port with a large expanse of beach tucked between towering chalk cliffs, the locals dress with a certain style.
Winter means turtlenecks under cardigans and waterproof outerwear, with leather boots. Well polished, read: almost waxed, leather boots, because the chances of rain in Normandy winters are pretty high.
Winter lasts about 4 months, and is relatively mild with temps hovering around the 40°F mark most of the time, with some frosts at night. When the thermometer goes lower it reaches the high 20’s in F, and we think that’s mighty cold.
It can snow, and usually does once or twice a year, with an inch or so clinging to the ground for a day or two, but rarely much more or for much longer. They don’t sell snow shovels here.
In the summer, which in principal also lasts about 3 months, no one knows how to dress.
All the women desperately want to wear cute strappy sandals and lightweight dresses. And we do, under matching cardigans or jackets, and our toes are sometimes blue. But darn it all, it’s summer and we want our share.
Men aren’t much wiser. I’ve seen guys wearing shorts with fleece jackets, and if you get close enough to see, you’ll notice their leg hair is all standing on end atop gooseflesh.
To counter this, I’ve almost always got a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt in my car. Sometimes the flippy dress just has to go.
But I keep the sandals on anyway, out of principal. I’ve got some on right now, and I know that when I finally leave work at 11pm tonight, my feet are going to be freezing. No matter, I’ll just put the heater on in the car on the way home and toast my toes before sprinting into the house to find some furry socks to wear during the before bed cup of tea and TV session.
Then out of the blue, a hot spell comes along and the same people who had frozen toes the day before are sweating buckets and complaining about how unbearable the heat is. The beach fills up with dippers and for three days everybody is a brilliant shade of red with sunburn.
Then the wind changes and England sends over a storm front and the whole business takes a turn for the worse, sending the temps plunging around 20° in a few hours. Out come the jeans and sweatshirts…
But as Scarlett so eloquently said to herself: Tomorrow is another day.
So, the strappy sandals will accompany a skirt and jacket for work.
The good thing is that I won’t have enough time to wear them out and thus can count on baring my toes next summer as well.
Then again, I’m an optimist at heart.
Cheers to Normandy summers!