this is called the purple heart plant in america, and misère pourpre, or purple misery in france. i am drawing zero conclusions about the relative temperaments of the populations of those two nations based on this nomenclature. coincidence, i’m sure. purple heart in the land of desert storm and shock and awe. purple misery in the land of sartre and camus. nothing to see here. everybody keep moving.
purple heart plant
sorry, but not really sorry. these thorns and thistles have me fascinated. why would a region produce so much prickly defensiveness? is it because the landscape has historically been browsed by goats, who can only be deterred by thorns the size of roofing nails? is it because the impoverished soil produces so little green vegetation that everything not spiked risks being eaten to extinction? are these thorny plants actually ancient invasive species that came here once and could never reasonably be eradicated? i don’t know. little help?
a sample of local stems
autignac, languedoc, france
i’d like to claim that it was our recent drought that claimed another victim in this rear-courtyard palm tree. but no. our family was all-powerful, in this case. and we ended up being as capricious as nature herself in withholding our man-made rain while we were distracted by other things. i imagine this poor palm looking to the skies, seeing day after day of beautiful, deadly blue sky, and wondering when the rain was going to come.
if this looks a little bit like barbed wire, that’s sort of how i’m feeling about the flora of this region right now. i’ve just spent two days in the vines picking grapes, and my legs from the knees down look as if someone had been playing a little bit carelessly with a razor blade. and that was in the vineyard. the wild and thorn choked garrigue next door looked about as menacing as this photo. it’s a funny ode to southern france. but botanically correct.
buts found in the vineyards
art is easy when nature does it for you. this is simply a random spill of the clams we had for dinner, two types of mediterranean shellfish called palourdes and clovisses. they look painted to me. manipulated somehow to be more than simply randomly pleasing. they look, in a word, artful. sometimes you need to know when to intervene, but sometimes you need to know when to step out of the way.
clovisses and palourdes clams
etang de thau, mediterranean, france