Panier of Plenty

December 2012

An icy cascade

An icy cascade

Leaves form channels

Leaves form channels

From The Forest

High winds have battered the region, reaching up to 160km along
the coast, and suddenly the deciduous trees are bare. It is much
colder than last December, there is already ice on the road and
snow fell at altidude, higher up our mountain road. Instead of
basking in the sun I am indoors by the fire…

Crisp temperatures

Crisp temperatures

First ice appears in the river

First ice appears in the river

12th December and there is a heavy frost, which has frozen our
water supply (last year Winter it stayed flowing until February)
– thankfully at 2pm it started running again…

False holly

False holly

Bedroom decoration, with fragon

Bedroom decoration, with fragon

A dining table candle

A dining table candle

In the spirit of the festive season, ‘le Fragon faux houx’ (false
holly), holly and cuttings of fir tree from the forest have been
transformed into Christmas decorations – the candle holder is
part of a gas lamp, the ribbon and bell from a Lindt Easter bunny,
and the glass icicle from the Collioure Christmas market.

In The Garden

Panier, 3rd December

Panier, 3rd December

Picked for dinner and decoration: Blettes, rosemary, thyme, tarragon,
lemon verbena for tea, cosmos, calendula, marigolds and a chilli.
Tomatoes are still ripening in the cabin, just surviving the
plunge in temperature.

The last tomatoes

The last tomatoes

Sunday 9th December. I spent the afternoon pulling the tomato
plants out of the cabin and cleaning the pots. The last are now
on a sunny windowsill and the potting shed is looking much larger
– clear of all the foliage and organised for next years seedlings.

In the nick of time, just before the frost arrived…

The cabin roof

The cabin roof

Was home to the tomatoes

Was home to the tomatoes

The strawberry patch

The strawberry patch

Crunchy underfoot

Crunchy underfoot

Rose from the mas terrace

Rose from the mas terrace

And still the roses keep coming… each bloom is different and
spectacular, adding colour to the table.

Exploring The Region

The Christmas market at the Château Royal in Collioure is bustling
with activity. There are geese, sheep, camels and wise men, donkey and
pony rides in the courtyard, with stalls selling hot spiced wine and
churros, while the narrow stone passages inside the château reveal a
treasure trove of artisanal products for Christmas.

December 2nd, Collioure

December 2nd, Collioure

The Mediterranean

The Mediterranean

The sea is much more agitated than usual, and as the icy Tramontane
cuts through the air, scarves, gloves and hats come out of hiding.

26th December. Bàscara, Upper Emporda, Spain. Each year this fortified
vilage celebrates Christmas with the ‘Pessebre’ – which can be described
as a live re-enactement of the origins of Christmas. Visitors are
ushered through the narrow pedestrian streets as lit animations tell the
story that leads to the birth of Jesus. An angel appears high on the
church tower; fireworks burst as stars and arches reveal locals dressed
in costumes representing ancient trades, as the route descends to the
river, and the three wise men on mounts are silhouetted amongst the trees
… natural mossy caverns drip with sparkling water and fisherfolk huddle
around fires, as the path leads past shepherds to a live manger (with a cow
and donkey happily eating hay), and then once again ascends to enter the
ramparts, as a grand bazaar comes alive with colour.

Miniature village with palms

Miniature village with palms

A shoemaker's family

A shoemaker’s family

An atelier hidden away

An atelier hidden away

Fisherfolk on the river

Fisherfolk on the river

The crêche (manger)

The crêche (manger)

The silent bazaar

The silent bazaar

At Home

Morning, 7th December

Morning, 7th December

The belvédère

The belvédère

The light has been spectacular with cloud cover adding atmosphere,
and a few drops of rain bringing a wide rainbow that arched over
the mountain range, just before sunset. The North wind has been
trying hard to blow the clouds away – most days are clear and blue,
but today was an exception.

arc-en-ciel

Behind the belvédère

Behind the belvédère

The sky changing over Canigou

The sky changing over Canigou

The belvédère

The belvédère

Snowcapped Canigou

Snowcapped Canigou

A final flourish of colour

A final flourish of colour

Mina has also been escaping the cold, but takes liberties…

Hanging from the window

Hanging from the window

Jumping up to grasp the window edge and peddling with her back paws,
Mina’s little face appears, with a great deal of scratching, as she
‘asks to come in’.

Climbing on my desk

Appearing on my desk

Discovering water for painting

Discovering watercolours

Her 'hot chocolate' technique

Perfecting her technique

As tempting as it is to stay by the fire, frost means an outing
– surveying the garden, walking through the forest – and to Mina,
contantly scaling trees as she shadows me.

A sudden, dramatic leaf shower

A sudden, dramatic leaf shower

Morning exercise

Morning exercise 12th December

12th December

Regarding cows

The driveway

The driveway, in chill light

Cows running away

Cows running away

And back out, exploring the river this time as clouds roll in…

The same afternoon

The same afternoon

On lookout

On lookout

December 19th. The largest baguette I have ever seen, measuring
around a metre, part of a shared meal for our theatre group.

1m baguette

1m baguette

December 23rd. Hot sunny and 21 degrees… so lovely to bask in
the warmth of the sun again.

Vanilla shortbread

Vanilla shortbread

To take away...

To take away…

December 24th. Réveillon. I have been reading about the history of
celebrating on the evening of the 24th. As the Christmas tree’s
lights twinkle, I will be stepping put into the cool air only
briefly – dining next door and looking forward to discovering a
new tradition…

Reindeer visit

Reindeer visit

December 25th. I was woken by bells, but it wasn’t reindeer…
a local farmer’s cows broke the barrier that protects the
driveway, and even Clémentine the donkey joined in with their
escapade.

December 31st. The cows have been back several times and the gate
has again been fixed. The air is crisp with a light wind, yet
days are clear and beautiful as sun pours down and Canigou
contunues to loose his snow, which now streaks down his upper
slopes. The only sound is the river running below, and the odd
bird, as calm fills the valley…

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3 thoughts on “December 2012

  1. Bachelier on said:

    Merci pour ce petit voyage de décembre dans votre petit paradis. Jakot et Jakotte

  2. mesarapugs on said:

    How lovely to visit this post – I seemed to have missed it, but it gives such a wonderful and atmospheric insight into the festive season there! Can smell the spiced wine and holly, and hear the cow bells ringing! 🙂

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