Was it last lavender-growing season, the summer of 2016, that was a little odd? Was that the year that we drove out to the fields we'd wandered shooting lavender photos from every angle, only to find them planted in a grain crop?
We did not go lavender less. Our resourceful drivers dispersed out along the narrow farmers' roads, bouncing over the hill and dale in search of the elusive lavender and we were rewarded with narrow fields, tucked in among other crops. Each carload had its secret find.
What will we find this year? Fingers crossed. Fields of lavender are what lure me here.
Willi is doing her final chore before we head out for the day, shutting her shutters. The sun shines on the front of the house all day, so we button down the shutters to hold the night-cool inside.
Optimists all, our three cars head up toward our old familiar haunts. It's a winding, nausea-inducing road, with a timely scenic outlook to pull out and catch a breath.
A panorama of Provence spreads out before us. A stone monument with a 360-degree map identifies the landmarks within our view: the village of Vinsobres, through which we drove, grape fields, grain fields, distant village locators, a smattering of lavender along the edge of the vista point portrayed on the ceramic tiles.
Here's just one view of the many I shot of what lay all around us. (The apparent diagonal stripes in the sky are artifacts of heavily compressing this photo, not truly there. I need a different compression technique!)
We resume the climb up the hill, more winding, rockier, more forested. We swoop through some curves and across ridges that reveal fields in the distance, green and gold, too far yet to discern what crops they bear. At last we make a sharp turn off the "main" road onto a narrow dirt track alongside of a few windbreak trees, until we find ourselves among fields of grapes.
We continue for a distance, bumping along single file, and when we get to our site, there is lavender, not quite wall to wall lavender, but swaths of it in different stages of maturity, definitely not ready for harvest. It takes awhile to find three wide spots in the road to park the cars, but eventually we gather together to wander up into the fields.
A solo flower at the margins of the road
It's not the broad field of earlier years, but, nevertheless, a tantalizing sample of the deep lavender of the maturing blooms nestling between orderly rows of grapes.
We are deep onto private property and I've often wondered what the farmers think about strangers traipsing through their fields. So when I see the farmer's tractor approaching, I'm hoping I'm blending into the scenery, standing behind a distant row as Beth steps forward to meet with him. My traveling companions glance sidelong at the pair, moving cautiously through the lavender.
As the tractor rumbles away we converge on Beth. Not only have we not been run off, we're invited to take more pictures, then come down to the farmhouse where the farmer's mother has some fresh- pressed olive oil which we might be interested in purchasing.
There it is! What I come for . . .
While we finish up in the lavender fields, the farmer's mother has hastily pulled out her table and her wares for us to peruse in the shelter of their barn.
The product is available in a variety of sizes. He makes a few sales for his mom, but I don't buy any because I won't be cooking at the villa, and I don't fancy carrying a bottle of liquid around in a smash-packed suitcase for the next three weeks. After we finish looking around, we take our leave.
We stop in Vinsobres on our way down off the mountain to sit on the terrasse at Le Bistro for cool drinks and to make a potty stop. We ate dinner here one evening last year. The food was ample and good. I hope Beth is feeling out opinions of this year's bunch about coming back one evening
It takes a forklift and three men to maneuver this wine barrel. It seems like overkill, but perhaps it's cautionary. If it got away from them, there are hills in several directions it would roll to the bottom of.
I've been using this as my profile picture for Facebook for awhile. Now I'm reminded where I took it. Vinsobres!
As is our custom, lavender fields are followed by grocery shopping, because this afternoon, we will go for a wine tasting at Domain Rouge-Bleu, followed by a barbecue in the evening at the villa with vintners Thomas and Caroline as our guests.
Pt 1 - The Summer Trip see here
Pt 2 - The Summer Trip see here
Pt 3 - The Summer Trip see here
Pt 4 - The Summer Trip see here