Today we officially celebrate spring. The sun is shining (it has to on
such a day) and newly potted plants are settling in to life on the
terrace. I chose orange pansies – unusual for me as it is not my favourite
colour – but here they seem to be in perfect harmony with the burnt orange
Mediterranean stones and brick flourishes around the windows and doors.
Our tiled floor (carrelage) is brick red, a rustic farmhouse style,
in some rooms it is very worn and looks like it has been there for
centuries. The sideboard, a great cabinet that holds the glassware and
plates, is a richer red. The kitchen has hints of pale yellow and green
– everything is warm and friendly and exactly matched to the tolie sold
here in the South (Les Toiles du Soleil) as the colour of Céret, our
nearest town, famous for its cherries. Each toile (a heavy linen or
canvas-like fabric also used to make espadrilles) is themed by colour
and lifestyle (like Marin) or a region or town (Banyuls for example).
Today we are off to the mountains of Cerdagne (the toile has hints of
forests, moss, chalet shutters, crocuses and light touching the snowy
peaks of the region). The seedlings have been watered in preparation;
there are now sixty or more seeds waiting to germinate in the hothouse.
The lettuces are now in the ground, with little cloches to protect them.
White petals are scattered everywhere as the fruit trees gain more leaves.
The last randonnée, or hike, that falls under ‘winter’ was to the national
park on the other side of our mountains, in Spain – L’Albera in Catalan.
As it is inland the vegetation is different to that of the coast – the plants
are slower to burst into flower, and the wild asparagus just emerging
(providing another delicious omelette for dinner). There are new born cows
finding their feet on the heights, and traces of the past dot the hills
– megalithic rock structures and dolmens that date back 5000 years. There are
still many theories on how the ancients used these sites, and on how to
interpret the engravings they have left. Aligned with the cycles of nature
– like a nearby cave that floods with orange light on the morning of the
new year – they are an enigma in our present age; standing on majestic peaks
and tucked into valleys, they speak of a deep rapport with nature and a
system of communion that we are only just beginning to acknowledge.