At Last!

It’s taken a while but the lavender has started to bloom and we heard the first cigale, a sure sign that summer is here in Provence.


Maybe I should have gotten this book about cigales. I saw it at the Val Joanis vineyard gift shop.


I’m not a huge fan of spiders but I liked the web design that this one did in the middle of some of the lavender in our yard.


Reflections in the corner of our pool. I love the yellow flowered genet that blooms in May and early June. It has a wonderful sweet fragrance.

Sheep

If you ever want to see a river of sheep move down a narrow village street, visit Riez during their transhumance, a long held tradition of moving sheep from the low pastures of Spring up to the high pastures of the mountains for grazing. Much of this is now done with trucks but they show you what it was like a couple of hundred years ago.


They had demonstrations in the village such as this guy shearing a sheep.


There is a little parade before the sheep arrive with colorfully dressed participants who also put on traditional dances.


Here they come. There were about 1000 sheep, 3 shepherds and two dogs to keep them all under control.


Look at this guy standing right in the middle of that moving mass of sheep. I’d be afraid I’d get run over, but I think the sheep mostly just go around things that frighten them.


And there they go. A fun thing to see.

Rainbows and Raindrops

Provence is gearing up for summer. May is usually cool with a few very warm days here and there and there are occasional rainy days to keep everything green. The other day it rained all day without stopping but by evening it cleared up and the clouds separated letting the sun through which meant a rainbow on the other side of the sky. I was in the house doing something when I happened to glance outside and gave a little scream of excitement and rushed outside with my camera. Maurice and I even got in the car to go up the hill a bit to see if I could get a photo of the whole thing but I didn’t have my wide angled lens with me. It was so exciting to see, one of the largest and brightest that I have seen in a long time and it made you understand why there are so many stories about rainbows.


Maybe there could be a pot of gold at the end of this.


A view from up the hill a way.


I liked how it was pink inside the rainbow.

The next morning I could see raindrops hanging from plants and decided to try my luck photographing them.


There’s something magic about raindrops too-a little world magnified.

My Obsession

You would think since I live in France that my obsession would be something really wonderful like French fashion, French perfumes, brocantes, or antiques but, although I like and enjoy all of that and love taking photos of them, I am not obsessed with them.
Surely, if you have been reading my blog since last summer and beyond you can guess. I’m in Provence. I’m in the garden every day. So my obsession is the same thing it was last summer and the summer before: snails-the white ones that you can’t eat, not that I necessarily would.

But there is a little something that has brightened my outlook. I noticed last summer when I arrived in Provence and found that some men who had been working in the yard next door had burned all of their debris in my vegetable garden plot, that not only were the weeds all gone but so were the snails. I didn’t have snails all summer in that area. So, for some time, I have been thinking that I need some sort of modified flame thrower, just a small one to scorch the earth around things I have planted. This last April Maurice mentioned that the neighbor next door to me where I was staying in Villefranche had a device where a flame came out the end, a propane burner, that he was using to burn weeds with. I mulled that over for a while and thought that it would be something good to have not only for irradicating snails but for taking care of the many weeds that we have. I can’t use it near things I have planted but I have plenty of areas that I have been spending days pulling weeds, little walkways and our driveway. Finally we bought one-not that expensive-and, while I have to lug around a tank with it and am thinking of some sort of rig with wheels, it made quick work of our gravel driveway and I used it around my vegetable garden, trees, bushes, etc, that I can burn around without damaging what I want to keep. It makes me so happy to cut down on some of the Spring yard work that can sort of get me down sometimes.


Yes, these are snails covering a pole nearby. My yard is never like this because I couldn’t stand it.

Another bright spot has been hiring a landscaping student to do some of the heavy gardening that needs to be done, such as mowing a big patch of weeds and pulling weeds around a long stretch of bushes that I have. I know we’re retired and aren’t that busy but it’s not my favorite thing to do. Plant flowers, water them, wander around admiring them, looking at the view-that’s my sort of thing. The student is the grand daughter of the neighbor who has the nearby sheep farm. When I first saw her, she looked really little and I thought she would be too small to do the heavy work required but up close she has some serious muscles.

I’m sure I will find other ways to keep busy.

Mummy

There are parts of the Louvre Museum that I seldom get to. When people want to have a tour of the Louvre they almost always request the “Big Three”-Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo. There’s a reason of course. There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t either heard of them or seen a photo or two in a book somewhere. They are even seen in movies: Remember Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Funny Face? She is running down the stairs in front of the Winged Victory saying, “Take the picture, take the picture!” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a good way to look at Paris in 1957. There are differences.
I do get clients, however, who want to see something not as popular. Some want to see the Dutch painters and just recently I had a request for the Egyptian wing. It has been so long since I have walked through there that I went the other day to refresh my memory.


This sculpture greets you as you enter one of the many rooms devoted to Egyptian art.


Isn’t this dramatic? I went to Egypt many years ago and saw temples with objects like this.


Colorful sarcaphagus.


Isn’t this sweet? The Egyptians had cats as pets all of those thousands of years ago.


Finally, what fascinates most people most: the mummy. I think that many were wrapped in a circular fashion but look at the mitered corners on the face here. They also put all of the vital organs inside separate containers. They went to such great lengths to preserve the body because they thought you took it with you into the after life. That’s why there were so many objects as well as food in the tombs as well.

Autumn Color

Even though Autumn officially arrived some time ago, I didn’t see too many traces of it in Provence. Some trees had started to turn yellow and there were tinges of gold and rust in the vineyards but the countryside in Provence is full of evergreen trees and Oak trees which aren’t known for their foliage. I was often reduced to a slow speed in my car when I came upon a tractor pulling a wagon full of grapes heading towards the Co Op so the vendage was underway.


It’s hard to beat a field of pumpkins to get that autumn feel. Actually, these aren’t the American variety of pumpkins but they taste the same to me. I loved how they were lined up in the field.


Two more views.


The vibrant color of some pyracantha in my yard.


Another plant in my yard which always turns such a great red.


And finally, speaking of red, a cropped photo (I’m trying to hide my hair before my haircut done several days later. Mary’s hair looked really great) taken in Lourmarin where I got to meet the delightful Mary whom I had only known from her blog: link She is as nice in person as you would think from visiting her blog. Now if I could only get her to decorate my home.