Panier of Plenty

October 2013

Welcome to the visual diary for October, highlighting
seasonal changes…

From The Forest

Stone terraces

Stone terraces

Mossy rocks

Mossy rocks

Many fallen trees

Many fallen trees

After heavy rain, thunder and lightning and high winds, the
chestnuts have started to fall. Suddenly traffic increases as
locals (most numberplates are our departement, 66) harvest the
fruits of the forest, for mushrooms are the greatest treasure.
Stepping out of the front door and up a mountain track, we have
a new ‘coin’ (corner) for a variety that is highly prized (but
we had never tried), Amanita caesaeria (Amanite des Césars) or
‘orange’ champignons in the same family as Amanita muscaria
(tue mouches or fly agaric)… it is imperative to study details
carefully but hard to confuse the two which differ in rating
from the delicious to very toxic. Mademoiselle Célestine, now
six weeks old, sleeps happily in a front pack as we hike, now
accustomed to being present for blackberry picking (in abundance
this year) and nature walks.

'Orange' emerging

‘Orange’ emerging

Amanita caesarea

Amanita caesarea

Bruyère, or heather, covers the hills at the moment,
reminding me of Scotland…

In The Garden

Vegetables coming to an end

Vegetables coming to an end

A surprise

A surprise

Green Zebra tomatoes

Green Zebra tomatoes

Onions are drying, garden beds are being cleared and the last
cucumbers and courgettes fill the panier. Tomatoes are plentiful,
the melons have finished and many vegetables that struggled
in the heat are now taking off: fennel, blettes, beetroot,
strawberries and artichokes. Sweet peas have already self-seeded
and pansies are making a comeback. The potato patch is being
covered in mulch…

Lunch, 18th October

Lunch, 18th October

23rd October

23rd October harvest

A green carpet

A green carpet, potager entrance

Panier 24th October

Panier 24th October

Exploring The Region

It’s vide grenier season once more as locals ‘clear out their
attics’ (or rather, garages) and take part in communal fundraising
activities. This month’s ‘finds’ include intricate wrought-iron
plant holders for my atelier (now under construction in the garden!), winter clothes (which ranged from 50 centimes to 2 euros), a new
panier with pleated plastic lining and a book (50 centimes)
– it is always exciting to find bargains and much more of a
pleasure rummaging than clearing out our own garage…

Château d'Ultrera

Château d’Ultrera

Vue des ruines du château d’Ultrera depuis l’ermitage de
Notre-Dame-du-Château (Sorède). A hike straight up the piste
from Happy Valley to visit Notre Dame du Château.

Cork tree, Darnius, Spain

Cork tree, Darnius, Spain

Wednesday 16th October. An excursion to the lake at Darnius
for a picnic, a glorious autumn day – 26 degrees. Harvested
strawberry tree berries for jam and coulemele mushrooms.

On The Menu

Figs, goats cheese, Serrano ham

Figs, goats cheese, jambon cru

Wild mushrooms, pheasant paté, figs baked with Serrano ham and
soft goats cheese… roasted chestnuts dipped in honey or Nutella…

Filling the cellar

Filling the cellar

While the rest of the tomatoes ripen all at once and herbs are
at their peak, batches of pasta sauce are being prepared for
winter months – Bonne Maman jam jars are the perfect size for
two servings.

Drying verveine (lemon verbena)

Drying verveine (lemon verbena)

At Home

First chestnuts fall

First chestnuts fall

Woodcutting begins

Woodcutting begins

As the sun drops lower, days are shorter and mornings cooler.
The first fire has been lit and wood is being prepared for winter.
Roses are appearing in the front garden and the belle de nuit
which covers the steps is shedding hundreds of seeds. Mina is
delivering mice to the door in the evenings as they attempt
their own harvest. The fire has been lit again…

Ladybugs conversing

Ladybugs conversing

Coccinelles fill the air and they all have different spots
or vary in colour, from red to orange and gold.

Autumn bouquet

Autumn bouquet

Autumn blaze

Autumn blaze

2 thoughts on “October 2013

  1. Thank you for the wonderful news and updates. Hope you are keeping warm! 🙂

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