Aix Market

I think Aix has one of the most lovely markets in Provence. I love all of the displays.


Just about any sort of berry can be found there.


I love the colors of peppers.


Love the flowers too.


This lady bought a huge armfull.


There’s nothing better than cherries from Provence. The season is just about over, darn it. So short and sweet. While I was standing at this stand, the guy poured a bunch more on top of the pile. They were huge and from near the Mount Ventoux region. I can eat so many I sort of make myself sick.

Lavender

I know you might be expecting more about our new apartment in Paris but would you believe that we are back in Provence? We had company coming so had to get back and we will spend the rest of the summer here. The apartment is more or less put together but we will still have a lot to do when we return. In the meantime:
We are right in the middle of lavender season here. Our yard is exploding with it-it looks so bare when it comes time to cut it back. We took a friend to Valensole to see the lavender fields, always a treat.


Doesn’t it look great in rows? They are actually separate little round balls when you cut all of the lavender off but they grow all together when in bloom. You can hear thousands of bees buzzing as you stand there looking.


This purse and scarf, so creative, were for sale at a shop in Valensole. I thought they were so pretty. I thought about buying the scarf but there is no way I could wear it in this heat and I’m not usually here in the winter.


This field of lavender was below the village of Banon in a different area from Valensole. The sky turned black behind us and there was lightening and thunder but it never reached us.


Yet another field of lavender. This was on another day but again there was a black sky with distant thunder. The day before we went up into the mountains where it was dark like this and it poured. We saw this field when I was searching for the exit for a nunnery where they sell really good lavender honey. I found it but was disappointed in the looks-it wasn’t rustic or religious looking at all and there wasn’t one nun out in the fields cutting lavender. A nun sold us the honey though. I think they could make a lot more money with some good marketing since the nearby lavender festival in Valensole is so huge but I didn’t tell the nun that. My, that honey was good.

Red-y For Spring

One of the joys of spring in Provence is the arrival of the bright red poppies that grow wild everywhere. I have a few in my yard and was especially taken with the way the light came through the petals.

(Our online problem was finally solved. I’m sure the guy who could fix it was on vacation. May is filled with all sorts of holidays in France. We are on our way to Paris for a few weeks to get the apartment moving underway. I’m hoping my pots of flowers in my yard in Provence will survive. I’ve put those watering devices attached to plastic bottles in each pot-the water is slowly released by osmosis. Maurice is turning off all of the water while we gone so I can’t use an automatic watering system. That’s the problem with having a house-worrying about things left behind. We’ve had a strange leak as well and wonder what will await us when we open our front door once more.)

Green Acres

Remember that really old TV series, Green Acres, where a city slicker decides he wants to live in the country and drags his fashionable wife there where they meet all sorts of wacky characters? The theme song entered my head today for some reason, probably because we are living deep in the country. I haven’t met any wacky people that I can think of but living in Provence can sure be different from living in the city. Of course Mother Nature can hit you unexpectedly with all sort of things-remember that freak wind storm that knocked down hundreds of huge trees in and around Paris? It just seems like you are more up close and personal with nature here. It sits right outside your back door and you never know what you will find when you walk outside whether it be poisonous caterpillars, wasps, flies or thousands of weeds, not to mention flooding or fires.
It has been an extremely wet winter here in Provence and the rain continues into spring which sets the stage for my story-it was a dark and stormy night with heavy winds. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3 AM with a sort of upset stomach so got up to read for a while. My cat, meanwhile, was throwing up himself every fifteen minutes or so with some sort of problem. I had forgotten to turn on the dishwasher when I went to bed so decided to do so. Right after that I heard a loud noise. I sort of looked around the house and at the dishwasher but didn’t see anything that had fallen on the floor so forgot about it. For some reason at 7 AM or so when Maurice got up, he looked out our bathroom window. He never does that. He was wondering for some reason if I had closed our new gates on our new wall the day before. I was on my computer when he said, “Linda, come here!” as he opened our front door. There on our driveway was a huge tree which had formerly stood up above on our neighbor’s property but which had sort of leaned onto ours, a tree probably two hundred years old. It totally blocked our garage and we couldn’t get our car out. Of course, this was the day when we had not one but two doctor’s appointments in Aix. Our new wall was gouged with a deep trench in one place and some tiles had broken off the corner of our roof. The tree missed hitting our house by inches except for that one corner. I still haven’t seen the plants underneath the tree’s body but I’m thinking that there will be some major damage there and maybe on the retaining wall which took most of the brunt of the fall. A neighbor kindly offered to take us to Pertuis where we caught a bus to Aix. We didn’t arrive back to our home until almost five. By then some forest type guys with huge saws had come and gone and cut away what blocked our garage but a lot is left. I don’t know when that will be finished. For some reason they cut the largest portion of the tree trunk at the top of the hill and it must have rolled down the hill because there was now a gouge on our garage.
Thinking about it all, we think it was a convergence of reasons-the perfect storm as they say-that caused the tree to fall. A few years ago they widened the drainage ditch on the side of the street for rain runoff as our neighbor was getting flooded out each time it rained. We think they must have cut some major roots when they did this. I had noticed that each summer the tree had fewer and fewer leaves and that it dropped a lot of braches and twigs in our yard. I should have spoken up and then maybe the tree could have safely been cut down but, coulda, woulda, shoulda. It’s too late now. Then we had that huge amount of rain over the last six months or so and then a big wind the night the tree fell.
But, there’s all sorts of ways in which we were lucky when this happened: the tree could have hit our house, it could have fallen on my son’s van a few weeks before, it could have fallen the night before Maurice had to take his son to catch an early train back to Paris, our car could have been parked there, somebody-maybe meor Maurice-could have been standing there when it happened, if Maurice hadn’t opened the bathroom window that morning we wouldn’t have know it happened until we tried to back out to go to Aix. So even though we have an incredible mess to clean up, I still feel lucky but, to tell the truth, I’m sort of ready to pack it in and go back to Paris. I’m hoping for a warm and sunny summer with no rain at all.


Notice there are no roots on the trunk sticking up. I think the whole thing was rotten.


See how close it came to the house?


A little closer view. What a mess.

Purple Spring

Seeing a lot of purple this spring around here in Provence.


Wysteria, of course, as already discussed.


My lilac bush.


I don’t know the name of this bush. The flowers are more pink than purple but there’s some purple in there.


I thought I was focusing on the purple iris and would have the castle sort of fuzzy in the background but, oh well. The ruined chateau in the background is near us. There are lots of iris all over this area as they grow wild here.


Van Gogh painted in Provence and did many paintings of iris.

How You Know It’s Spring in France

You know it’s spring in France when you go to the markets.


This particular market is in the village of la Tour d’Aigues known for its Renaissance chateau, now in ruins, seen in the background here.


Heads of lettuce as far as the eye can see.


Stacks of vegetables to replace the displays. Look at those crazy leopard skin shoes to the left. I didn’t know they even made those for men anymore. I don’t think I even got a look at the guy wearing them but I bet he had on a leather jacket and some funky hairdo.


Radishes are so pretty but I don’t really like them. I don’t like that sort of hot, watery flavor. The French make a little cross cut almost all the way through from the tip, stuff them with butter and then dip them in salt-still doesn’t do it for me.


And of course there are the strawberries. We always wait for the ones from France. They might not be as large as those that show up earlier from Spain but they sure do taste better-so sweet and juicy.