Panier of Plenty

May 2013

Welcome to this month’s visual diary, highlighting ‘happenings’
at Le Levant, the bergerie of Mas Reste

Clear ice-cold waters

Clear ice-cold waters

Walking upstream to the dam

Walking upstream to the dam

Wild calendula

Wild calendula

From The Forest

Thursday 9th May. Jour férié (public holiday) ‘Ascension’. Sleeping
with the window (double glazed) open for the first time this year,
the night was filled with the song of the rossignol (nightingale),
drifting up from the forest, which lies only metres away. The dawn
chorus then arrived, as if conducted my an invisible baton, and built
to a crescendo before a plaintive cat’s cries were audible above the
heavenly din… Mina had divined that the window (two storeys up on the
eastern side of ‘Le Levant’, the bergerie) represented an opportunity
to sing for an early supper, and was perched on the edge of the rounded
terracotta roof tiles, typical of this region… once satiated however,
she did not ‘go away’ and was joined by cow bells as the sun rose and
its welcome rays entered… such are the joys of country life, far from
the sirens and rubbish collection trucks of the city, as nature comes
to the fore…

Touring the grounds

Touring the grounds

A forest dweller

A forest dweller

Serpent on the path

Serpent on the path

Well camouflaged

Well camouflaged

Forest excursion

Forest excursion

Perfectly balanced

Perfectly balanced

Morning routine

Breakfast awaits

Sunday 26th May. A picnic in the river gorge below us (now the path has
been cleared), with the eager participation of Mina of course…

Picnic in the gorge

Attracted by the fromage

Heading back before rain

Heading back before rain

In The Garden

The front lawn, unmown

The front lawn, unmown

Frederic's Grandfather's cultivator, new home

Frederic’s Grandfather’s cultivator

Morning, early May, potager

Morning, early May, potager

Rocaille (rock garden), May 9th

Rocaille (rock garden), May 9th

Lavender blooms

Lavender blooms

Wild thyme flowers

Wild thyme flowers

A buttercup opens

A buttercup opens

The 'potager' bank

The ‘potager’ bank

Red clover

Red clover

The 'apero' table and stools

The ‘apero’ table and stools

Stars open when sunny

Stars open when sunny

Inspecting birdhouses

Inspecting birdhouses

Why the birdhouses lost their bases… Mina in action…

Shady side of potting shed

Shady side of potting shed

First sighting, sweet peas

First sighting, sweet peas

Velour-like clematis

Velour-like clematis

Pergola, training new clematis

Starting to climb the pergola

Cuttings without roots

Cuttings without roots

“Mamert, Pancrace, Servais sont les trois saints de Glace, mais
Saint-Urbain les tient tous dans sa main”.

The saints marked on the calender have changed since Medieval times
(when this belief originated): Mamert, 11 May, is now Sainte Estelle;
Saint Servais, 12 May, is Saint Achille; Saint Servais, 13 May, is now
Saint Rolande and Saint Urbaine is now Sainte Sophie, 25 May. Usually
more poignant in the Northern regions they are not to be forgotten
this year as they have remained as a ‘caution’ in the consciousness
of seasoned gardeners…

Thursday 16th May. While it snows at higher altitude in the Pyrénées,
a cold wind once again blows and halts any musings of planting the
tomatoes. The ‘weather’ remains the top subject of conversation as we
continue to experience radical extremes and any ‘normal sense of order’
has disappeared. Around five weeks ‘behind schedule’, in comparison to
the average range of favourable conditions, there is a growing sense of
confusion as our corner of the South of France – a reliable destination
during the holidays and haven of sun lovers – demonstrates ‘fickle’.
As fires glow in the grate and wildflowers bloom, the rhythm adjusts to
compensate… the potting shed now brimming as seedlings await a window
of warmth. The radishes are clearly content, and each time I pick them
I sow new seeds, the rocket is in the ground, and new shoots pushing
through the usually dry soil as rain continues to fall and aid their
naissance. The spring flowers that by now have ‘been and gone’ continue
to open as their period is extended… so somehow there is always ‘a
compensation’ for anything that might be considered unconventional and
everything adjusts, finding a new pace… it is easier to pull out weeds
for example!

Les radis, quick to appear

Les radis, quick to appear

Freshly 'plucked' for dinner

Freshly ‘plucked’ for dinner

Vegetable beds prepared

Vegetable beds prepared

Beds ready and still waiting...

Beds ready and still waiting…

Delicate geranium

Delicate geranium

First (ever) artichokes

First (ever) artichokes

Saturday 18th May. We have spent the morning trying to rescue and tie
plants in the potager after storms raged through the night; heavy
torrential rain came in waves, so loud that its beat penetrated the
double glazing, winds swept through and thunder and lightning raged
overhead… it is surprising what manages to ‘hold on’ compared to what
is flattened, exposed or interred… the pumpkins and squash seedlings
were planted yesterday (the ‘window’ we were waiting for) and many
leaves are broken, so we can only hope they will recover…

Friday 24th May. Cress seeds have been planted and then uncovered,
as a mole (taupe) passed through the patch in the night. The round
courgettes now have a home in a newly turned bed, dwarf beans are
organised in rows and more squash varieties will be left as a border
to spread as they wish. mulch has been added in a thick layer, ready
for the hot days that surely must arrive… today a bitter gale-force
wind blows ceaslessly and the fire is once again glowing…

In the potato bed

In the potato bed…

Exploring The Region

Place, St Jean de l'Albère

Place, St Jean de l’Albère

Communal meal, after our annual village ‘plant exchange’…

pitchfork

Monday 13th May. Post: ‘Temps de Flores’ en tiempo de flores

At Home

Muguet for 1st of May

Muguet for 1st of May

Bergerie flowerbed

Bergerie flowerbed

My 'office' window

My ‘office’ window

The welcome invasion

The welcome invasion

'Spanish Lilac' multiplies

‘Spanish lilac’ multiplies

I have finally found out the true name of this flower that reappears
each May. We have white in the garden and sprouting from terrace walls
and deep red flowers line part of the route nationale to Perpignan –
Centranthus, Valériane des jardins, yet here it seems to be known as
as ‘Spanish lilac’.

Bergerie, front steps

Bergerie, front steps

Wisteria, late this year

Wisteria, late this year

Clover scents the air

Clover scents the air

Late afternoon, golden glow

Late afternoon, golden glow

Gathering wildflowers

Gathering wildflowers

Catalan colours

Catalan colours

Rosebud 'mas'

Rosebud ‘mas’

Buds quickly become blooms

Buds quickly become blooms

Magnificent roses…

Petals start to fan

Petals start to fan

Bergerie front garden

Bergerie front garden

Happy after the rain

Happy after the rain

Bouquet, 31st May

Bouquet, 31st May

Forming a star

Forming a star

Fresh spring grass

Fresh spring grass

Grass flattened after rain

Grass flattened after rain

Running to follow...

Running to follow…

The horse chestnut (Aesculus)

The horse chestnut (Aesculus)

Maronnier, Horse Chestnut tree

Horse chestnut tree base (Maronnier)

A bee paradise

Bee paradise

Maronnier flowers

Maronnier flowers

To be served with sea salt and butter

To be served with sea salt and butter

As the month draws to a close, the light is constantly changing and
dramatic, as storms brew each day…

The sky deepens...

The sky deepens…

Before the heavens open

Before the heavens open

The setting sun reaches the mas

The setting sun reaches the mas

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3 thoughts on “May 2013

  1. Wow! Wow! Double Wow!! Such a wondrous visual diary, filled with magic and awe!! Thank you for sharing such an insight into your days xx 🙂

  2. But oooooh! That serpent!! So long and wiggly! 😉

    • A very tranquil one thankfully, I have never seen this form, with so many bends… nearly stepped on it as it really does resemble a stick… a bit smaller than some of your garden companions!

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