a sprung Spring, part 2… Purple reigns!

It’s still Springing – so here’s some more Spring pics for you from around the Minervois… (I just wish I could put all the incredible smells on this page too)

Purple reigns!

Lilas and lilas
Lilas and lilas


spring 4


L'Arbre de Judee (Judas Tree)
L’Arbre de Judee (Judas Tree)

spring 1

the plane (plataine) trees are budding
the plane (platane) trees are budding
and so are the vines (buds can be called 'bourgeons')
and so are the vines (buds can be called ‘bourgeons’)

glycine house

glycine house2

market man
Spring market day
market legs
market legs
market friends
market friends

lilas manon 2

and then a little evening promenade...
and then a little evening promenade…
almost a picnic at hanging rock!
almost a picnic at hanging rock

spring walk 1

spring walk 2

a sprung Spring

wild irises in our hamlet
wild irises, thyme, jonquilles in our hamlet

The first lilas, the first irises, daisy chains made of ‘paquerettes’…

paquerettes and dandlieons 2013

iris 2

iris 3

wisteria 2013

our school held it's first of two 'Marche aux Fleurs'
our school held it’s first of two ‘Marche aux Fleurs’ in the village square
watching the sales
…careful observation of the flower sales
a surprise bunch for the Aussie shelia
a surprise bunch for the Aussie sheila

It’s 26 degrees, Spring is beautiful and I’ve just made my first ‘Jardiniere‘ of the season.

Look out for Mamy Jeanne’s recipe in the following post…

first blossom

the first blossom seen in our village this year
the first blossom seen in our village this year

It’s girly wirly fleur time on the blog.  We were out on our morning walk and in the distance I spied the first blossom for the year…

our morning walk - blossom in the distance
our morning walk – blossom in the distance

Quelle belle surprise.  It’s cold and about to snow again, friends left right and centre are ‘aol’ with colds and flu, but the sight of that beautiful pink…  I go crazy in my head with excitement when I see the first trees in flower – and this was my first for 2013.

lilas and blossom
…Took Lilas out later for a look.
Carefully pruned vines in background.

blossom 6

lilas blossom 3

I know it’s only early Feb, but it gets me thinking of all the flowers to come – and Ding! goes my head with visions of colour and splendour from last year’s pickings.

So hell yeah, let’s have a cheesy insert to follow.

A ‘Collage de Fleurs’!…

a cheesy flower collage (from last year's pickings)
…a cheesy flower collage (from last year’s pickings)

All Saints – the day of ‘La Toussaint’

Every year, leading up to the 1st of November, you will see florists and markets everywhere stocking up with chrysanthemums.   In France as well as other countries in Europe – Spain, Italy, Poland etc, this flower symbolises death and is placed in cemeteries on ‘La Toussaint’ – ‘All Saints’ Day’ – the day people remember their loved ones and bring flowers to their graves.

fleurs at the floriste
les fleurs outside the local florist

The day of ‘La Toussiant’ in the Western Christian world dates from the 7th century BC in Rome under Pope Boniface IV, and from the 9th century BC for the rest of Europe.  On a quick peek on the internet, it seems that other countries also take flowers to their deceased on this day:  Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, as well as some cities in the US.

a '4 L' with flowers inside, outside a cemetery
a '4 L' with flowers inside, outside a cemetery

I’ll always remember the first year I arrived in France, walking through the cemetery of Lagrasse, by chance, just after the 1st of November.   I was in awe, it was the most beautiful spectacle of colours and flowers. ‘They really look after their dead loved ones here,’ I said to Benjamin.  He laughed and explained the tradtion of ‘La Toussaint’ to me.  From then on I’ve  always made sure to have a wander inside the cemetries at this time of year to take in the beauty and have a think.  I don’t do it often, but going in and having a quiet walk around, reading the various names and looking at the faces of those few whose families have left a photograph gives me time to reflect and be grateful for being around.  Corny, I know – but it puts things back into perspective and I feel even more happy to be around walking the earth instead of under it.

Lilas and I went for a walk in our village’s cemetery this week:

La Liviniere cemetery
the cemetery in La Liviniere

La Liviniere cemetery 2

la liviniere cemetery 2b

la liviniere 5

monsieur in cemetery

a pretty plaque

la liviniere cemetery 3

Morbid I may be, but I loved this cross.  The grapes, the wheat, it seems so rustic and perfect for a rural cemetery whose village is devoted to winemaking.  I was probably wrong with the symbols however! – the blog ‘Graveyard Addiction’ (sounds very ‘Harold and Maude’ ) attributes the grapes as the blood of Christ and the wheat as a symbol of harvest (thanks G.A.!).

Lilas in La Liviniere's cemetery

I spied Lilas with a pile of flowers in her hand – ‘No, you can’t take the flowers!’ I said.  ‘Mummy, I’m picking the ones off the ground and giving them to ones that don’t have them,’ she explained.

water bottles

I’ve just remembered that I used to give Mum chrysanthemums on Mother’s Day! – how funny to think of the twist from this Australian tradition to the French one…   People keep saying the Aussies are topsy-turvy.

And your Tip For When In France:  never present chrysanthemums to the host at a dinner party, or on your first date.

Out in the vines this morning

There was a beautiful orange glow lighting up our room early this morning and I couldn’t wait to get outside to see what the garden and it’s adjacent vines looked like in that light…

grapes this morning

grapes this morning 2

grapes this morning 4

It’s nearing ‘les vendanges’ (harvest time for the grapes – or vintage, as we say in Australia) and it looks like it will be about a week early.  The grapes are all looking pretty good (those night visits helped!) and Benji’s only 3/4 stressed.  What you see above are bunches of ‘Syrah’.  Some of our friends have already started on their whites here in the Minervois, but our red grapes here probably have another week to go before the chop!   My days of picking are long gone I’m sorry to say.  Darn that back.  Everytime I see the pickers out in the heat with their broad smiles, sticky and dirty hands, having a laugh with each other,  I get so nostalgic!  I never realised how much fun and satsfaction I’d have from finishing a row – finishing a whole vineyard! – with a team.  I was only beginning to learn French and so a lot of my time in the row was spent listening to mad, sun-induced conversations I had little or no chance of undersatnding, kind advice from a few of the pickers on how to learn French in Three Easy Steps, or being asked to rattle off sentences out loud to everyone, whose meaning I had no idea about, with hysterical laughter greeting them.  They’d ask me to repeat these word for word to ‘the boss’ at home, and then I would know what they meant!…  Sentences full of ‘gros mots’ (what the lttle ones call ‘swear words) apparently!

The only thing I couldn’t bring myself to doing was guzzling down the red at lunchtime.  How did they do that?  You stop for a very LONG 90 minutes (these traditions of meal times must be respected. Geez, in Australia it was a brisk 30 minutes), and then get going again in the full force of the afternoon heat, to finish at 5pm.  Most people were very un-Anglo-Saxon and would have just the one glass, but some of the guys would go crazy!  I’d look over at the red faces with red in their bellies and wonder how they kept standing, or kept from snipping their fingers.   My lunch break was a much less festive affair:  lunch with a spectacular view, a very petite conversation in the French that I had, and then a long nap in the vines.  Not much else to do out there.  But it was so much fun.

a healthy, happy row

Minervois in the morning

A lot of people are already proclaiming that it will be a good year, but it’s hard to know until everything is safe off the vines!  Fingers crossed.

The garden looked pretty happy too this morning:

our zinnias this morning

this morning in the flowers