Monday, July 7, 2014

In the thyme field

It was our final morning at the mazet and Remi and I were both trying to gear ourselves up for the tasks of packing and cleaning before returning to Arles. The tension from Kipling's escapade the night before still clouded the air. "Let's go down to the thyme field," Remi suggested. 

We had never seen anything quite like it, despite our many years of living in Provence. An actual field of thyme in bloom. 

And they weren't the scraggly dusting of herbs de Provence that we find in the Alpilles but rather perfect bouquets that popped out of the ground as if a magician had pulled them out of a hat.

We sat down in the midst of it, each with our own cutting tools and slowly began to recueiller, to gather up our harvest.

I have long had a theory, a little private knowing, that the true scent of Provence is not the much ballyhooed and beloved lavender but her quieter cousin, the earthy thyme blossom.

Ben and Kipling agreed with me.

Our found treasure made returning to Arles all the merrier. We had a gift that would keep giving fresh memories of our time in the quiet countryside. In the days that it took for the buds to dry, the perfume kissed the tips of our noses.

It was Remi who thought to gently shake the bouquets over an open basket as we had seen done with grains in Africa. We spread them out again for several days, occasionally sifting the lot with our hands until they were ready, ready to be packed into sealed jars where they will bring summer breezes even when the winter Mistral howls.

A bit of simple happiness that lasts...

...until it doesn't. 

But we know that thyme field will keep blooming year after year. Blooming for us, blooming for no one but there, ephemeral and yet true.


  1. What can be more delightful than finding a herb field, walking through it !!! God - I envy you, dear Heather!!!!!!
    Send the thyme up to me, up to the Périgord, please!

  2. What a wonderful, multi-sensory experience. I love the smell of thyme. Basil is my favorite summer herb, but thyme holds autumn, winter and even spring in its earthy scent. My thyme is beginning to flower. I think I'll take your example and cut some of the flowers to dry for garden memories during the wet, cold months.

  3. I love thyme and have some planted between slate pavers on our patio. It would be fun to go out foraging for some as you have done.
    Love your dogs! I am partial to Goldens as we had one years ago and he holds a special place in my heart.
    Provence must be a magical place to be.

  4. Now for a summer afternoon nap, if eyes closed, there.

  5. How beautiful and dreamy ... I have never seen such huge bouquets of thyme. Our wild thyme is a very hardy little herb that grows on the garigue and smells heavenly in early June. It is a protected plant so we can't cut any of it but when I was younger, it wasn't and we used to keep it around the house because of its wonderful smell.

  6. Oh, that nose! That cute, cute nose! . . . uh, wait . . . oh, yes, this was about the thyme fields . . . I love my little patches of thyme, but they are no where near as showy and glamourous as those you have shown here! I love it especially on my flatbread! Yum! :)

  7. I can only imagine what that must have smelled like! Did you run through the fields? I would have tried to do my best Froilan Maria but would most likely look more like an advert for Downy. (You need the dress, I suppose...)

    So this may sound dumb but I didn't know that thyme was purple. If I was there I would automatically assume it was lavender, not her "quieter cousin". Love that, by the way.

    Happy summer!

  8. Awww your fur babies are just too cute!

    Those fields of thyme seem so magical to me.

    Clare x

  9. I can't remember what thyme smells like - shoot! Otherwise reading your post would be multi-sensory! But it looks beautiful and it looks like the puppers were enjoying it, too! Aren't you excited to get back to THAT?? All that!! Our loss is Provence's gain, but we will miss you - glad, though, for SO much quality time with you. And we'll hope for another visit when the wedding bells are chiming!! Miss you already.... : (

  10. How lovely to gather such huge bouquets of thyme. I love it. I grow it everywhere I can in the garden but I never seem to have enough.

  11. completely sublime! Thank you for educating us!

    More thyme planted around here! It is drought-tolerant!

    What a treasure you gave us all!!


  12. Oh! delighted to hear no "anonymous" comments........they are so hurtful and destructive sometimes! Yikes!!!

  13. How beautiful! There used to be a Middle Eastern restaurant in Paris called Fleur de Thym. Sadly, it's closed but this post brought back lovely memories. (I never knew thyme blossoms were purple!)

  14. What a beautiful discovery, Heather. I've never seen thyme like that. In the midst of recreating the landscaping at our house, our herb planters have gone to, well, pot, so I can't wander outside to inhale a bit of the scent of thyme to see if it brings back memories of long summer days in magical Provence, but I bet you are right! I just love all the wonderful discoveries you find around your adopted home. This could be another entry for the book ;-) Thanks for bringing us with you on your wanderings! XOXO

  15. Thyme growing wild in the fields. Wonderful that you can bring some home. Different scents from lavender.


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