Saturday, 19 November 2011

An Endless Autumn

Photo: Jon de Montjoye
 There is no end to this wonderful autumn weather. We seem to have enjoyed dry sunny weather since September. On the south side of the Mont Blanc massif, and all the way down to the Med, there was a spell of dreadful weather a couple of weeks back, which caused floods on the coast and in parts of northern Italy, and a high avalanche risk in the mountains. But here in the Chamonix Valley we were protected from the bad weather by the Foehn. So no snow here for the moment. However, when the sun isn't out it's very cold, so as soon as we do get precipitation it will fall as snow.
If you're coming out to snowshoe with me don't panic - it will snow before Xmas and anway we can easily travel into Italy or over to the Italian Swiss border where there will certainly be snow - already people are skiing at the Simplon Pass, which is one of my favourite snowshoe locations, and also further south in the Nevache Valley where my first trip takes place early January.
The larches are losing their needles now but there is still some lovely colour on the hillsides and the light is wonderful at the end of the day.
I don't often post about cats - in fact this is a first - but this story deserves telling. A few weeks ago I noticed a cat and her kitten in our garden and at first didn't pay much attention. but it became apparent they were living wild in an empty house very nearby. Being the softie that I am I started to feed them and this was very much appreciated. The kitten turned out to be a real stunner as you can see.

This went on for sometime, but winter is coming, it's very cold and I will not be here all the time to feed them. Also the empty house isn't always empty....
What to do? After agonising for sometime I sought advice from cat loving friends in the UK - thanks to all of you who took the time to listen and reply! I then went to the vet who told me there is a procedure for this situation. You catch the kitten and take it to the vet where it will be looked after, given all necessary kitten treatment, then a family will be found to take it in.
The mother was fairly wild so she had to be trapped in a special trap which worked remarkably well. The vet then sterilised her, (paid for by the local council), and also found her a place to live with other stray cats. Turns out the mother was very young and had not always been wild, she'd been abandoned.
The moral of this? Such situations can be sorted out and although I thoroughly enjoyed my contact with this little chap, it was unlikely he (or indeed she as it turned out) was going to make it through the winter, especially if the feeding services were unreliable. And if the mother wasn't sterlised we'd soon have a colony of cats.
VoilĂ  that's it for now. Next post will come from the wilds of northern Provence, where I have a hiking trip scheduled for next spring  - places are available and it's a NOT TO BE MISSED WEEK!!