Panier of Plenty

February 2016

Welcome to the visual diary for February…

Saturday February 6th.

When I first started writing this blog, in 2011, the idea of the Month By Month page was to record seasonal changes: From The Forest; In The Garden (potager); On The Menu; Exploring The Region (showcasing festivals that punctuate the calendar, as well as wonderful places to visit). I have recently let go of the structure… going with the new flow as everything has altered dramatically!

This year is so exceptional — nature has taken us outside of any familiar patterns that previously defined ‘normal’. February is usually the coldest winter month, yet there are only faint traces of snow on the peaks of Canigou, and yesterday it was 20 degrees (by the afternoon). The first violets are out, magnolias in flower, spring bulbs are popping up and the first asparagus and tomatoes have appeared at the growers market. The mimosa that covers surrounding hills has been flowering since November and continues… it habitually starts blooming in February. Instead of chill winds chasing away the clouds, we have had a few grey humid days; rare indeed. Warm, sunny, calm… what more could anyone ask for? The Pyrenean ski stations rely on snowfalls, and we are used to admiring the snowy peaks that rise beyond the plains of Roussillon, but as yet, it has been too mild.

The sun is now dipping behind the horizon (the Balcons of Céret) at 5.20pm — a welcome change as days grow longer. The January sales are still ending and Spring Collections are coming in to store. At the goat farm (where I worked as a fromagère), babies have been arriving early and production will start with the early Easter, in March.

St-Jean-Pla-de-Corts

St-Jean-Pla-de-Corts

Wednesday 10th February. It snowed! There was a sprinkling on the peaks of Canigou as light rain fell overnight, but otherwise it has remained very warm… so lovely in fact, that we have bee out in the evening, enjoying sunset…

Walking around the lake

Walking around the lake

Canigou on the horizon

Canigou on the horizon

The make shore

The lake shore

Thursday 11th. Back to the plan d’eau (10 minutes drive away) for a picnic lunch…

The island

The island

Sunday morning, from terrace

Sunday morning, from terrace

Sunday 14th February. More snow fell overnight yet it was ‘sunbathing’ weather yesterday… the doors all open…

Fresh snow on Canigou

Fresh snow on Canigou

Friday 26th February. The month has flown by! As I catch my breath, tiny blossoms are unfurling their petals. Canigou is looking streaky and bare as snow melts — it is still very mild. We have had very welcome rain, except, instead of cleansing everything, there is a layer of fine red dust that won’t blow away — it looks like we have just driven back from the Sahara. More rain is predicted to end the month; a blessing for the vineyards and orchards. It is also a period of renovations, road works and annual leave for commerces… a strange time… for although it has been hot enough to visit the coastal beaches, virtually nothing is open (no ice-creams or sangria while soaking up the sun). As life adheres strictly to seasonal rhythms, preparations are underway for the summer months when tourists start to flood in; locals learn to adapt, enjoying quiet roads but travelling further afield (to Spain, for example).

Tavertet, Catalunya Sud

Tavertet, Catalunya Sud

Spectacular views

Spectacular views

Crossing bridge, Rupit

Crossing bridge, Rupit

Lintel inscription

Lintel inscription

Medieval heart of Rupit

Medieval heart of Rupit

Tiny shrine

Tiny shrine

Door detail

Door detail

View from the lunch table

View from the lunch table

Sunday 28th February. We went to visit the farm where I used to make goat’s cheese and it had been snowing all night!

Arriving at Mas Coste

Arriving at Mas Coste

Spring flowers

Spring flowers

Starting to rain

Starting to rain

The vegetable gardens

The vegetable gardens

Feeding the pigs

Feeding the pigs

Meeting baby goats

Meeting baby goats

Rain!

Rain!

On The Menu

First asparagus in season

First asparagus in season

The sun enlivens spirits — the outside cafés are crowded — as spring flowers nod their little heads. Lunch today (Saturday) was asparagus with fresh soft boiled egg and smoked trout, followed by plump raspberries.

Beautiful red carrots

Beautiful red carrots

Citrus fruits in abundance

Citrus fruits in abundance

Oranges, lemons, and clementines are still in season.

Juicy little pears

Juicy little pears

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