Monday, February 7, 2011

Promise of Spring

After the coldest, gustiest winter that many can remember, a bit of a reprieve. It arrives every year around this time, a gift from Mother Nature to encourage us to hold on a tad longer. Imagine the clouds evaporating to reveal a story-book blue, temperatures jumping to 15°C (59°F!) inciting folks to fill up the café terraces, hungry for a bit of light. 

We made the most of it. Saturday we held the last of our winter get-togethers after the market. Glasses of cremant raised, we toasted that the worst has passed with a cheer. A table full of the usual suspects kept us picking for hours. Two of Remi's tartes--fruit de mer and provençal tomato, oysters, two kinds of olives, crudités, salmon stuffed with cream cheese, dates stuffed with roquefort and wrapped in bacon...a cheese plate that was forgotten about completely, samossas from my new Vietnamese vendor (who gave us a salad yet again). And for a wonderful treat, our friend Anne brought along her made from scratch batter for the most delectable crepes topped by her always stellar apricot jam. Sigh. Alas, the photos are all too blurry as much cremant had been consumed!


Nearly all of us reunited that evening for a bal populaire, a village get together, that is put on each year by the world music festival Les Suds, also as a promise of fun things to come in warmer climes. The band was all horns, the music a cross between flamenco, Italian pop and polka! And yet, everyone was dancing, so desperate for a chance to be out, to let off a little steam. All ages and styles mixed and moved and shouted out. As always, we left while the party was still good (a mantra of mine).

Our Sunday drive was a meander through the Camargue, the marshy park land to the South, towards Aigues Mortes. Saint Louis built the fortified walls in the 13th century and it was the departure point for the Seventh and Eight Crusades. Less hard to imagine that sea used to come up to the walls when you see the presence of water constantly interacting with the sky in the surrounding region. 

One of the greatest gifts of this seasonal shift is the subtle but assured change in the light--its length, its golden quality careening over every surface. Warming inside and out.

We don't get often enough to the Mediterranean, despite it being forty minutes away. But timing was on our side yesterday evening as we passed the beach at Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer just as the sun was flaming into the pink of the flamingoes that line the local lagoons. How happy we all were to be calmed by the swish of the surf, the simplicity of a horizon extending off to Africa. 

This morning the gray was back in the form of a cottony fog clinging to the banks of the Rhone River. So it was just a taste, not a meal. But enough to fill us all with a boost of the hope that is Spring.


  1. Oh! Great post and pics!! But with a low of -2 here today, I don't see our promise of spring! But glad you had a nice reprieve, a great meal, and a nice visit to the Mediterranean! Is that where we went, where I collected some teeny tiny shells that I still have in my winter coat pocket? LOVE the pic of you and Ben on the beach! : )

  2. Have just found your lovely site - I love Provence! but haven't visited Arles - I think we were nearly there when at St Remy - maybe next year!!
    "All Things French"

  3. I just ate breakfast and already I'm hungry! Your meals are always so yummy, and you and Ben on the beach look fab! But *ahem*--no promise of Spring here! Unless by "Spring" you mean a foot of snow on the ground and 0 degree temps ;-)

  4. Ah thanks for the comments! I am a tad behind in seeing them--bad blogger!

    Rob, yep, that is where we went but it was sooo cold! I can't wait for the day that you come when it is really "Provence"...

    Dianne, hooray! Thanks for being here and yes, you weren't far at all. I'll have to give you tips for your trip next year...lots of great things to discover!

    LJ; hold on! Spring is truly on its way! I have proof! Even for the Michiganders! :)


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