"Schlaraffenland", the German Arcadia.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

7 Snapshots of Europe, Spring 2014: 1. An Hour In Provence

Meadows are nice. Even the word meadow is nice. Among the nice meadows I have known the small one on the slope behind the Mas de l'Ange is one of the nicest. To backtrack a little, the Mas de l'Ange is a 16th century farmhouse in the Provence region of southern France that we rented for a week. It is built into the side of the hill such that the back walls of the dining and living rooms are the rough limestone of the interior of the hill, like the walls of a cave. The red tiled roof then forms a continuous slope to the back with the meadow that covers the part of the hill not eaten by the house. This is "the meadow".
I am not an especially smell oriented person. I love light and form and texture and song and taste, but I rarely give much thought to preferred or memorable smells. The meadow is however a smell memory. It is the memory of the smell of honey and of thyme and of rosemary. The last two had obvious explanations because they grow in numbers reserved for objectionable weeds at home, but the honey was confusing at first. It was confusing until I realized that there was so much in bloom that large amounts of nectar were being volatilized into the warm spring air. Flowers countless and nameless (at least to me) formed the perfect bed for the perfect nap. At least until I figured out how to position myself to avoid the less showy small prickly plants, also countless and nameless. Then with my eyes closed, breathing in that honey scented air, I only heard the thrumming of bees and the distant sounds of a farmer attacking the dead branches of his olive trees with a chainsaw. Van Gogh was committed to an asylum a few kilometers to my right and from the ruined castle straight ahead the infamous Lords of Baux once looked down on this meadow with rapacious eyes, but none of that was on my mind. All I was thinking of was, “rose is absurdly cheap here, I should have brought a bottle to the meadow rather than just a glass...”

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