UPDATE: Daughter Melissa Black says this is her painting.
She needs to come figure out whose is whose in my "mail home" box.
This tour we're on is called Lavender and Vine. And this is kick-off day for a stroll through the lavender, to be followed by a taste from the vine. We pass through the small village of Vinsobres and up into the hills behind it for the lavender. We pause for a glimpse of Mt. Ventoux. The mountain itself takes in its own view of the South of France.
Many of our favorite lavender fields that had been shockingly crop-rotated into grain fields a few years ago have been returned to lavender. Bloom isn't at its peak yet, but beautiful nonetheless.
The sun is so bright that I can't see anything on my phone screen except my own reflection. I wave it in the general direction of the target and click away. There is not much artful composition in that technique but often enough I get lucky. Here's what happens when I can't tell that I'm in selfie mode.
Displayed as taken
The fields are a patchwork of crops this year: lavender, grapes, little oaks that are intended to provide a home to truffles down the line. Or so we've heard. After reading a little about truffle growing, I'm a bit skeptical about the truffle story.
We traipse into the fields. I don't stray very far from the car on this uneven terrain, due to a bad back and iffy balance. Although I had shots for the back to knock off pain just before the trip, they really don't do much for balance. I carry my super-glam paisley cane in one hand and a walking stick in the other to minimize tilting. No point in pushing it.
I heard two different names for these yellow flowers;
I don't remember either.
I love this place.
Whoops! Did it again.
The soles of our shoes accumulate shocking loads of sticky mud from recent rains, maybe half an inch thick, glued into the treads. We have to scrape and ream it out before we can get back in the cars. I find a flat white stone with some sharp corners that work well as a scraper. I stash it in the car for possible future use.
We've met the farmer's wife on previous trips. She sells oils and spices in a little shed off the barn. (See here for photos of our visit to her shed last year.)
I've often wanted to buy one of her lovely bottles of olive oil, but then I contemplate the weight bottles would add to my already unliftable suitcase or the yuck of a bottle of oil breaking in there. I choose this tiny bottle with a fraction of an ounce of saffron threads. The teaspoon beside it is for comparison. Maybe I can make paella again, for the first time in a million or two years. Or let's say the 60s and 70s.
* * *
We return to Vinsobres for lunch. We are early for our reservation so stroll around the area for a bit. Here's the bell tower. This is the major intersection we pass through going to and from the lavender fields. We're having lunch on the terrasse below. From the intersection, one street goes up and three go down. They are each one way at a time. I haven't personally driven through here but there may be a traffic light. I like it. A lot. Little dreams of living here dance through my mind. Dreams. But there are no level places for walking.
My Bistrot Salad for lunch
I order their Café Liégeois for dessert. Again. I'm ordering it everywhere it's served. It's very good here, but it doesn't have that signature shot of strong hot espresso poured over it. That means I might consider other desserts in the future.
The bistrot itself is across the street from the terrasse. It's become a regular stop on the tour for a meal or beverage.
* * *
We go for our annual wine tasting at Domaine Rouge-Bleu winery in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes this afternoon. I take no photos. My phone is on the charger back at the villa. (Sad face.) But we've visited every year. It was founded by Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse -- she of the French-Word-A-Day blog. They sold the domaine a few years ago to Frenchman Thomas Bertrand and his Australian wife Caroline Jones. You would think I must have blogged about it before and can just link you to it.
Much like this post, previous descriptions are buried with other activities in the same blog. Because it is so sublimely beautiful here, I really must include photos. So I've lifted previous shots that represent it any year, with the exception of our people today.
Mont Ventoux looks over us, too, in the grape fields. The closer rocky range is the Dentelles. There is wine at Rouge-Bleu named for them.
A slightly "closer" (zoomed) view of the Dentelles . . .
The testing table is set up on a small wooden terrasse under this big tree, and overlooks peaceful green grape fields. The house, which our backs are to, also has a bed and breakfast.
Thomas, describing the different wines . . .
Just because the garden flowers and the vines are beautiful . . .
Kitty joins our tour of the wine cellar. She has the job of mouse-catching. Was she here with Kristin and Jean-Marc?
That turquoise blue is the swimming pool.
Back down in the cellar, each of the big concrete aging vats has one of these logo plaques on them. I can make out "Italy' in the lower line. Perhaps the vats came from Italy?
I don't drink wine, so I can't comment on the tasting, but a fair number of bottles are carried home by our group, and a few more may even have been delivered.