From The Forest
As June progresses, the forest is changing colour, as the new growth
also brings shade. The chestnut trees are flowering great feathery
tufts, and the tilleul flowers have opened. The hum of bees fills the
air and the birds are highly active – more than at any other time
of the year. They have been feasting on wild cherries, which are now
coming to an end, and instead of shredding the doormat for their nests,
have been taking moss from the garden pond. Wild blackberry tendrils
are on the move, covered in pink flowers – I have started walking
with secateurs, clearing the tracks that run through the forest.
After recent rains there are many varieties of large mushrooms deep
in the forest, by the river – russules. I need to observe them
further before attempting cooking with them, the highly prized and
toxic are too close to clearly identify, and I don’t have enough
experience to be sure. There is a story that the head of the
mushroom association here, a renowned expert, died of poisoning…
In The Garden
The walled terrace which is now our potager (vegetable garden) used to
be an orchard with many cerisiers, or cherry trees, before it was cleared.
A newly planted olive tree has doubled in size since we arrived, and
an almond tree still stands – last year there were only three almonds(!)
remaining to be harvested – after cutting it back it is now thriving.
The sole cherry tree (by the driveway) is fruiting, and we have shared
in part of its crop – the flesh is white and juicy.
Apart from finding tree roots when we dig, we continue to unearth
many treasures: pottery, coins, a sardine tin, rusty ancient tacks
and twisted iron.
Each day there are so many visible changes in the vegetable garden it
is hard to keep up, yet I still feel compelled to take note, as we build
on the experience we gained last year. Starting from scratch with what
was’a plot of long grass’, we have transformed the garden with our
plantations, and spend each day improving or maintaining our evolving
creation. Now beds are clearly designated and the soil is richer,
the vegetables have ‘taken off’ more quickly, and the weeds are impeded
by stones barriers. Flowers have self-seeded, and the watering system
is more reliable, with a reservoir tank holding the river water so it
doesn’t evaporate or leak from the main basin. Water is our most precious
resource, we are aware of how much we use and it is impressive as the
tank level descends with each soaking – laying down an irrigation network
is helping save both time and water.
June has been a month of ‘firsts’: golden raspberries which I had
never seen, the first courgettes rondes, the cucumbers have arrived,
the first ‘normal’ courgette has just been picked, as have three lovely
lettuces, and the first radishes have been eaten – whole as an entrée,
with butter and salt.
I found the oak leaf lettuces so lovely to look at that I left them
to the last minute to pick, almost too late as they start to want to
seed. I have now put in new seedlings to replace them – I learnt to
stagger my plantings after an overabundance. There is a terrible secret:
due to the presence of giant black slugs (up to 10 cms), and having tried
many ecological deterents, we have resulted to pellets which are now
housed in specially built shelters (think maison de retraite) for
our escargot and limace visitors.
The strawberries are slowing down, after a great crop at the beginning
of the month.
The other visitors, which have been gently removed from the wall of
the cabin (our hothouse) where they were enjoying the heat.
As the month progresses and temperatures stay above 30 degrees…
Exploring The Region
The warm waters of the Mediterranean have been calling – taking advantage
of this quieter period, before the annual influx of summer visitors, we have
been enjoying the Côte Vermeille, and swimming in calm bays futher south
on the Costa Brava.
Timed for the melting snow, the climbing season commences.
Sun sets in the bedroom window as the belvédère captures the last rays
and the sky glows between the rocks.