My son, who lives in Switzerland, and his family came for a long weekend recently. Of course, we had to take them to see the lavender. They are going to be back in time to visit the lavender festival too on July 19th.
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.
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.
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.
The next morning I could see raindrops hanging from plants and decided to try my luck photographing them.
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.
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.
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.
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.