Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lavender in the Luberon



Sabine's Father was waiting for us at the turn-off to our cabanon rental, as he was afraid that we would miss it. He shook our hands with a dry, firm grasp and showed us the way. Down the path, up and over to arrive at the domaine that had been passed down to Sabine. For both her Mother and Father had farmed the land for lavandin, a variety of lavender, since generations.

"There is still some left in the upper field, feel free to pick as much as you like." And so we did. Bees buzzed and the warm earth released scent with every footstep. But nothing could compare to the perfume of the buds broken in the palm of our hands. Like a clean, soapy smoke if such a thing were possible. And as if all of the landscape and all of time past had dripped down into the roots, distilled.




Ben and I took off exploring while Remi patiently sorted and snipped, gathering lavender leaves to use in his fine cooking. Of course, I would call him to come see the abandoned cabanon with its well so that we could imagine what we would do with it, if it were ours. A bedroom here, the kitchen there. Plenty of shadow in the shade of the trees, an afternoon dream.


Remi presented me with a bouquet of blooms and Sabine's Mother surprised us with a vial of lavender essence, one that had been created in the traditional way. "Well, if you like that sort of thing," she added politely. I smiled widely in return and asked, "Who does not?"


Both are on my desk as I type. Later on, Sabine would tell me, "Sometimes in the heart of winter, I close my eyes and inhale a bit of essence and it is as if I am transported right back to summer and can feel the sun on my face." Today is the first sweater day of autumn here and I know these small treasures will keep me warm in the months to come.




49 comments:

  1. This was recent ? I didn't know lavender was purple this late.

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  2. gorgeous......I can smell the lavender!!

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  3. I love the scent of lavender. Unfortunately for me I've not found a variety that grows well in hot and humid s.e. FL.

    Your gift of lavender essence is wonderful!

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady Lorraine

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    1. Ooh, humidity and lavender don't seem to go together now do they? Hmm, well, perhaps a visit to Provence is in order? :)

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  4. It really is an amazing plant....I have a candle chandelier with a basket filled with lavender from our two years in Aix...can you believe it is 14 years ago and still when I open the box the scent of the lavender is still so strong I never remove it!

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    1. You know, I can totally believe it Heather. I have some sachets that are ten years old and have not lost their scent yet...

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  5. Hello Heather

    With the scent of the lavendar and the undulating hills one can feel what you experienced.
    The blissfullness of the images with Remi immersed in his chore and Ben beaming and aware of his new odour.
    Your treasure chest holds beautiful memories and the gift is precious.
    When we had our farm, I had a lavender hedge by the entrance and loved the scent.

    Helenxx

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    1. Leave it to you, Helen to appreciate the photo of Remi working away. Can you imagine how painful it must have been for the workers before they switched to machine cutters? I didn't know you had a farm previously. Oh, I am curious now...

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  6. Hmmm...can smell it wafting up at me...such a comforting fragrance and one that I will never tire of! Have a Happy Sunday

    Hugs

    Veronica

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    1. Right back at you, Veronica! Hoping you are staying warm down South! ;)

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  7. The lavender plants are tougher then I thought since they seem to be thriving in such rough terrine. Lucky you to have not only received a gift of summer but to be able to roam about in such a heavenly scent and area.

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. Debra, you would love that land, I can tell you!

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  8. I have been there twice....always at the wrong time of the year to see the lavender fields :(

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    1. I guess you will just have to come back then, won't you? :)

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  9. I LOVE lavender. I keep a sachet in my dresser and when I'm putting away my sweaters, I sometimes crush it a bit to release the scent. It always transports me back to the holiday house we used to rent in Bonnieux. Lovely, lovely lavender. Thanks for posting about your flower gathering!

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    1. Thank YOU for posting about your excellent article in the NY Times travel section! Go, Ann!!!

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  10. Heather, The perfect day :) and you are right! Who wouldn't enjoy a vial of lavender essence? I place linen grain sacks filled with lavender on my beds to help induce relaxation. The closest spot for lavender harvesting here is about an hour away at a wonderful farm. There's a restaurant on site that has created their menu around lavender (including lavender martini's) and the organic produce they grow.

    Wonderful photographs and Ben looks like the perfect companion.

    xx
    leslie

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    1. Lavender martinis!! I had never heard of that. Oooh, I guess I just might have to try one of those...Remi uses lavender in his cooking to a wonderful effect. On lamb especially, it's delish!

      And yep, Ben is a fantastic companion.

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  11. I just picked to day, the last of the lavender as we are expecting our first frost. How i would have loved to be in these field..

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    1. ...Ah but the scent is the same, Francine!

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  12. Thank you for more beautiful photos
    Speaking of seasons...have you considered doing a Ben calendar?
    It would be difficult to chose favorites photos...except for those of Ben. When I view pictures of him, I feel a lift of happy as if seeing an old friend.

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    1. Wow, Maywyn! I kind of love that idea! I had thought about doing a book of Ben in Provence--especially when he was a puppy. :) Can you imagine how cute he was as a puppy? But a calendar could be quite do-able. Something to think about...hmmm...
      Merci!

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  13. Now the seasons have obviously crossed, because just yesterday I was admiring how many bees were buzzing, then looked in search of the sound to discover our lavender in full bloom. Must have happened overnight! And these photographs were a month ago? So then, at any time, it appears, this wonderfully scented plant must wave its little purple flowers somewhere in the globe.

    Does Remi use the leaves, rather than the flowers, in his cooking?

    Big hugs from Spring World to Autumn World. xx

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    1. Hello Miss Spring!

      Remi uses the leaves. It was rather lovely actually--he spread them out over the table to dry for days. They really pack a punch. I really like the idea of lavender being the world harbinger of sunny times. :)
      Big hugs to you right back!!

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  14. I can only imagine the wonderful smell of the lavender essence. I love the smell of lavender. I have some growing in a pot but when I try to dry it, it seems to lose its scent. Perhaps it's the wrong variety?

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    1. Hmmm...I am the WRONG person to ask about this Loree! But it is definitely worth asking around.
      Bisous.

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  15. Two cherished gifts. Petits cadeaux from the heart. Beautiful photos you shared.
    V

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    1. Thanks V and I love how "petits cadeaux from the heart" sounds--the best of Franglais!

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  16. Hi Heather, I read Maywyn comment and agree with her on doing a Ben calendar. He has the same effect on me that he has on her...:)

    As always the pictures are awesome! It's hard to think of anyone turning down a gift of lavender essence made the old fashion way. I have an affinity for everything lavender. My mother loved that scent so much, if it was possible to OD from it, my siblings and I wouldn't have been here today...:)

    Remi is very talented. He also can cook besides working his magic with a camera. You are a lucky gal!

    Bon weekend.

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    1. Amelia, now do you really think that I would have left everything behind to move to a foreign country with just any old guy? Remi is brilliant, handsome, talented, funny and I am telling you truly that the man can COOK. :)

      And it is a good thing that lavender just SMELLS like a drug but really isn't one, now isn't it?
      xo!

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    2. Heather, I'm sure if asked, Remi will say the same thing about you.

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    3. Thank you for that Amelia. It made me smile!

      And I thought that you were in a time zone far from here...shouldn't you be sleeping?
      Bisous,
      H

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  17. Lavender essence...a wonderful gift! What is the old-fashioned way to create it, Heather?

    Ben seems very comfortable in the lavender field. Was his nose twitching?

    What is the ground cover used in the field you showed? It looks almost like large wood chips.

    I'd be the first to buy a calendar of Ben photographs. Our statewide rescue organization for Goldens puts together an annual calendar of photographs of dogs for whom it has found forever homes, and it is irresistible.

    Thank you for another beautiful post! Happily, Leslie in Portland.

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    1. Well, from what I understood when Sabine explained it, these days there are machines that do everything all at once right down to the essence running out a tube at the end--this technique is used on some of the biggest farms and gives the essence a grassy scent. Traditionally, lavender is cut, then dried before being distilled in what is called a lambic--and before that there was the "enfleurage" process where the flowers were embedded in animal fat which pulled out the essence!

      And the terrain is very, very rocky. The earth is a rich orange brown. Such "terroir" really is behind the particularities of many of the products of the region--more on which soon!

      Thanks for stopping by with all you are doing! You rock, Leslie!!!!

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  18. WONDERFUL!SAVOUR the smell....................LOVE THE BEN CALANDER IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!RUN WITH THAT!
    xxx

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  19. That's a lovely post Heather. Full of inspiration as I sit here and breathe in, clicking away at the keys. Thank you for the warm, lavender-scented break.
    A xo

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    1. Please keep writing Aidan! You can do it!
      And thank you again for organizing the lunch this weekend...
      Bisous.

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  20. Heather what a treat to visit this farm and pick the lavender! I am intrigued be the essence of lavender oil as well it much smell marvelous.

    A memorable day!

    Xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  21. Heather, I can smell the lavender over the scent of fallen leaves. Instead the gray, driving rain that's just started, I can feel the warm sun of the Luberon on the back of my neck! Thanks for transporting me with another beautiful post! XOXO

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  22. I spray lavender essence around the house when I clean, so it always smells like summer :)

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  23. Loved your photos of the Lavender in Luberon. Like all the other comments I felt I could also smell it from my chair. It made me take a look through my photo files from 2 yrs ago when I was in the Luberon standing in the lavender fields ( look at my profile picture ) I relived my holiday all over again. Your lovely dog looks as if he is enjoying the perfume coming from the lavender. Thank you for sharing.

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  24. What a gorgeous post! When my kids were young I used Lavender essence to help heal minor burns, cuts and scraps, and a few drops on their mattress or pillows to help them sleep. Now I live in Le Morvan, deep in rural Burgundy and my neighbour and friend Betti gave me bags of her lavender. I spent hours picking the lavender seeds and made bird shaped lavender sacs. I found the process therapeutic and really enjoyable.

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    1. Merci Delia! We are out the door so this will be short--but I forgot to write that I used the lavender essence on a bug bite and it stopped the itchiness instantly! Amazing! And lucky you to be in Le Morvan--what a beautiful part of the country!!

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  25. Je découvre ton blog grâce à Carla,une belle découverte...

    Amicalement,

    Manon

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  26. Love these Lavender photos & following you from link on Carla's blog. Sadly I did not have much a lavender crop this year due to all the rain this summer in Vancouver & my late August flowers were tiny!

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  27. me too I was sent over here by Carla, happy to meet you!
    greetings from brussels
    anni

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