Cornflower blue skies, freshly burst leaves swaying gently on their branches in the afternoon breeze, a fence just begging to be climbed over, into a sweeping, fragrant, carpet of lavender.
Mother Nature has spun her magic yet again, transforming rows of neatly groomed, rounded clumps which in the Luberon Valley, Provence, in March, looked like rows of very well behaved hedgehogs, all quite immobile, forbidden to move, as if frozen by the camera lense.
Warmed by the sun and the spring rains, new life has burst forth. A profusion of soft sage green spindles reach upwards, delicate petals cluster randomly up the stems into tiny flowers which perfume the air with their distinct and much cherished lavender fragrance. Clouds of bees hum gently to themselves as they busy themselves gathering nectar for their honey, the cycle continues as Mother Nature intended, everything ordered in her timely sequence.
Nearby a dazzling carpet of brilliant yellow sunflowers nod their heads contentedly, basking in the summer warmth. I love sunflowers which always seem to me to be such symbols of joy and happiness. Maybe it is the bright sunshine yellow of their petals and their round centers which always appear to be smiling up at you. Just as field after field of these cheerful beauties brighten the sometimes endless journey through France from Calais to Provence, a small, tied bundle of sunflowers brings nothing but a golden sunshine beauty to your kitchen table or living room.
Sunflowers and lavender together must be the two most quintessential flowers of Provence. When thinking of a typical Provencal basket, of the produce grown and gathered in this heavenly region, of all the many fruits and vegetables, the olives and honey, the cheese and wine, there is nothing quite so defining to me as these two totally contrasting but wonderfully complimenting two, sunflowers and lavender.
And just as in summer in Provence, where they grow in profusion, so too do they spread their fragrant beauty all over the fields of California. Similar to the Provencal Marché, every local Californian Farmer’s Market tempts us with organic produce and Provencal delights like honey and olives. True, somethings are not for sale here, linens and tablecloths and spit roast chickens for instance, the ambience is also quite different. There are no gently cobbled streets or brightly shuttered, ancient buildings and the chatter all around is not ‘Français’ or charming in that ‘oh so French way’, (despite the irritated ‘poofs’ ………….) that is all unique and special to Provence, to France. This is California, but it is still beguiling and beautiful, full of people who have toiled and tended the land and harvested Mother Nature’s bounty of locally grown produce and baskets of hand grown flowers.
Dazzling pink cosmos ………..of the flower variety
and starry eyed buttercup yellows
summer flowers, so fragrant and resplendent at this time of year, wherever you happen to be!
Download the Travel Guide Carmel-by-the-Sea, California ~ ideas where to stay, eat and play!