Panier of Plenty

May Day

It is traditional to give muguet, or lily of the valley. In our garden
and the nearby fields, I watched clusters of white stars emerge as they
opened their petals to greet the sun – I have yet to discover their name.

Our commune (the local village and surrounding rural community)
organised a picnic at the old moulin (mill), once used to grind flour
and now crumbling as nature claims its golden stones. We explored the
the pools and cascades of the rushing river that once powered the mill
– skimming stones and hunting tadpoles we discovered wild asparagus
and mint growing on the riverbank – and shared locally produced
goats cheese (our neighbours up the hill), home made pork rillettes
and gateaux.

Vieux moulin

The river, moulin à eau

The rest of the jour férié (public holiday) was spent in the garden,
as we returned from our holiday in the northeast of France with dozens
of plants (flowers and varieties that will spread, aquatic plants,
ornamentals and herbs), and then participated in a plant exchange
on Sunday, another event held by our local commune. We set up the
panier, filled with plants and seeds, and swapped them for the
vegetables we are now planting. As well as gaining much valuable
knowledge, we have a selection of unusual ‘zebra’ tomatoes, black
tomatoes (tomates noir de Crimée), cucumbers, grapes, blackberries,
gariguette strawberries and raspberries. We shared an apéritif then
dined at a communal table – catalan sausages and a selection of
chops and cutlets were grilled in the village hall fireplace, and
a giant-size brie finished the repas.

After days of rain there are mushrooms appearing again and the tiny
cariolettes we harvested at the beginning of autumn are back, growing
in fairy circles and hidden under blades of new grass.

Cariolettes or mousserons

There are also new wildflowers to add to the ‘must identify’ list,
and the roadside has burst into life with pink cistus, lavender
and large white flowers with gold centres – clinging to the rocks
carpeted by tiny violet-pink stars. Although enchanted by Villandry,
we have started creating on a more modest garden – a rockery or
‘rocaille’ that will form the base of the raised area we use to
capture the last rays of sun in summer, as we sit on a painted wooden
bench and survey the results our efforts in the potager.

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This entry was published on May 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm. It’s filed under Climate Change, Fête, Festival, Food, Forest, France, French Culture, Garden, Hiking, History, La Vie Quotidienne, Landscape, Languedoc Roussillon, Life, Lifestyle, Mediterranean, Nature, Photography, Pyrénées, Seasons, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “May Day

  1. I’m very much looking forward to seeing those home made rillettes and other tasty delights.

  2. mesarapugs on said:

    What a charming idea to be swapping plants and sharing at a communal table! Fantastic!! Ahh, rillettes!! Miam, miam! 😉

    • Bonjour! It was a wonderful event, there was a biodynamic grower
      and such a wide range of plants and ideas – and old varities that
      were passed on – a great community spirit. It has taken me a while
      to embrace rillettes and anything that is beyond a standard cut of
      meat (just the idea rather than the taste) but I now appreciate even
      gésiers de canard and other delights. Our neighbours raise a pig to
      make their conserves each year (boudin, pâté de tête etc)…

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