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fledging is hard work

we learned within hours of our arrival in southern france that we had a swallow’s nest with babes under our terrace overhang; mama was trying to keep everyone fed, and it was clearly hard work. she was swo0ping in and out all day. apparently the urge to fledge has more to do with brain chemistry or the calendar than waiting for favorable meteorological conditions. because this guy decided yesterday was the day to start flying. but, as is typical here, the wind was slamming shutters and shaking tree tops. and so we watched with fascination and a little bit of horror as he launched himself into our courtyard, and then got caught in an eddy of wind which carried him from within centimeters of one stone wall and then another.   at some point we turned away. it was like watching brazil against germany in the world cup.  i didn’t want to watch.  about an hour later our ten year old, joseph, found him/her on the garage floor looking very much the worse for wear, with wings stuck out at odd angles.  we nursed it as best we could, and then gingerly placed it beside its nest so that mama could take over. we decided she is a much better swallow parent than we are.

fledging swallow

in our courtyard, autignac, france

comments
  1. Kathleen says:

    Poor little fellow but what a beauty. And that baby-bird frown!

  2. margie says:

    what an adorable face

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jean-luc’s orchard

this is one of the reasons we come here.

a collection of fruits in mid-july from jean-luc’s orchard: peach, fig, apricot, plum, quince, pomegranate, nectarine, apple, pear, and cherry pits (and notably absent is persimmon)

autignac, france

comments
  1. margie says:

    that is beyond gorgeous

  2. Manisha says:

    So many beautiful colors.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Wow. That is one amazing orchard.

  4. Languedoc Roussillon leaves on fruit cultivation & on tourism. It’s a poor region but sometimes I think it’s better than having industries. Your fruit layout is outstanding ! ox

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silver dollars

i am still getting teased for my slight overreaction to finding these silver dollar plant seed pods growing out of the top of a stone wall during a family outing. i gasped as if an intruder had just jumped out at me, and blurted, “seed pods!” in the middle of the street. my children have spent the last two days imitating me every time they walk by this plant in our living room. still, i mean, look at them. wouldn’t you gasp too?

money plant / monnaie du pape (lunaria annua)

saint-guilhem-le-désert, languedoc, france

comments
  1. Akä says:

    Bonjour, je suis ton blog avec joie et émerveillement depuis quelques mois, depuis un petit village d’Isere (entre Lyon et Grenoble).

    Merci pour ce partage contemplatif !

    J’espère que tu as pu rencontrer nicholas genning, parfumeur extraordinaire que je connais un peu, à st guilhem le désert.

  2. Anne Field says:

    They look other-worldly. I would have gasped, too.

  3. We moved in our new apartment in December, and I was pleasantly surprised to spot Lunaria annua next to our car, on the parking lot (which is a surpreme luxury in the historical center of Montpellier) ox

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prickly neighbor

the front door flew open this afternoon, and 10 year old joe came pounding up the steps. a jar. a jar. he needed a jar. he grabbed one and tore back down to the street. ten minutes later, he came back with a scorpion in a yogurt pot. i don’t know how he got the scorpion into the pot. i don’t want to know. i just know the scorpion in the jar became part of the family for a day, and we were treated to some extra dialogue and commentary from the young naturalist who had adopted this stray off the village street.

scorpion (rock scorpion?)

languedoc, france

comments
  1. Incredible photo of a somewhat not so unusual little beast, specially in old houses of the south. Scaring the hell out of me, though. LOL Your son was braver than I could have been ! ox

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lavender photo. it’s mandatory.

here is your mandatory lavender photo from southern france. like a sunset view over a minnesota lake, it has been done to death, and yet is never less than spectacular in person. i am smelling lavender on my hands as i type this. it does not smell like a cliche.

lavender

autignac, france

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  1. Never gets old, don’t worry ! ox

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your rosemary is my spruce

there is a large rosemary shrub on our terrace. it is the size of a small bathtub. the leaves remind me of the spruce needles back home in minnesota. do you happen to remember the spruce needle assemblage i did last winter? it seemed fitting this summer to do a mediterranean equivalent with a local evergreen.

rosemary leaves

autignac, france

comments
  1. Manisha says:

    This reminds me of some lovely embroidery. So glad to see these things from France!

  2. I constantly spent my half an hour to read this
    blog’s articles or reviews daily along with a mug of coffee.

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wild fennel, wild mint, wild thyme, wild rosemary, wild pine nuts. really?

along every roadside, everywhere we go here, two and three foot tall spikes of wild fennel are growing. the flower umbels are just pulling free, and in the next few weeks, they will all sport yellow flowers and lacy fronds that look like dill and smell like anise. we have also recently pulled off to the side of the road, and had the car inundated with the smell of the wild mint we had just driven over. we have passed thickets of wild thyme on a walk through the garrigue. we have seen a rosemary hedge the size of a minivan. and we have driven past stands of parasol pines, whose cones produce pine nuts. these are such exotic foods for a minnesotan, and so preciously expensive back home, that it is almost impossible to imagine a place where they are as wild and abundant as weeds. yet, here we are.

wild fennel

autignac, france

comments
  1. margie says:

    that is surely one of the most special attributes of the south of europe, the abundance of wild aromatic herbs. Fennel is lovely to dye with too :)

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ripening

previous to this visit, we have spent two extended stays here in southwest france, but always in the fall. we’re used to seeing black olives, brown figs, yellow lemons, and indigo grapes. right now, they’re all green. already i wish we were staying a little longer.

a collection of july fruits: olives, fig, lemon, grapes

autignac, languedoc, france

comments
  1. margie says:

    in their unripened state they are very beautiful though

  2. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you
    write again very soon!

  3. Emily says:

    I am so happy to have found your calm beautiful blog! Particularly loving these recent images of France as it reminds me of my 5 years in Turkey. Beautiful work! Thank you!

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a parched place

they measure the rainfall here in southwest france in millimeters. when we left minneapolis, we were already over 400 mm, and it was still june. by our standards this is a dry and parched place. and yet, the abundance of fruit and flora makes us re-examine our assumptions.  this is not desert. moist air from the mediterranean blows across the plains to the foothills just behind our village.  it is dry enough to make the olives and grapes suffer, and yet moist enough to nourish kitchen gardens and orchards.  there is so much humidity in fact, that the local charcutier must be located up over the foothills so that his sausages will properly age.  so we all drive 20 minutes up over the hill to buy his dried sauasages and salamis. i suppose you could call that an inconvenience. but we don’t.

dried mudcracks

laurens, france

 

comments
  1. margie says:

    i love that climate

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nous sommes arrivés

after 20 hours of travel, followed by 15 hours of sleep, this is the result of 1 single hour in the garrigue, the local mediterranean scrubland that surrounds us in almost every location where there are no vines. the abundance, for a semi-arid climate, is mind blowing.

early july assemblage from rural languedoc

autignac, france

 

comments
  1. margie says:

    just so fantastic and amazing

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