Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight

Sunset brightest
Good weather in the morning. All the photos are untouched.

“Oh, look!” the Carnivore exclaimed, pointing out the window. He took a picture with his phone.


Not content with a photo that would include street lamps, electric wires and the rooftops across the street, I grabbed my point-and-shoot and ran (yes!) UP THE HILL to get a clear shot at crimson glory.

Sunset over vines
En route. This is where the hill starts going up and I paused to catch my breath. Would I beat the sunset? See the village lights–the ones I was running away from?

If the photos are shaking, it’s because (1) I didn’t haul along a tripod and (2) my entire body heaved as I tried to catch my breath. #outofshape

Sunset almost gone
Hanging on for the last rays

I realized how little I get out after dark. At least on foot. I’m missing out. The wind had calmed, the world had calmed. It was wonderful.

Pyrenees sunset
More promise of good weather, at least for a while: the peaks of the Pyrénées peek out.

“Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moulin sunset



Waltz of the flowers

A bee at work

How about some more celebration of spring?


This camelia (is it???) bush is tucked in a corner by our neighborhood château. Hence the fabulous stone wall.

Even the fallen blossoms are lovely. They remind me of the skirts of the dancers in the corps de ballet. It wouldn’t be surprising if they started twirling to “Waltz of the Flowers.”


Speaking of music, at this moment, the soundtrack for spring would have to be another Tchaikovsky hit, “The 1812 Overture.” A few weeks ago, the leaves started opening, softly and delicately, like the introduction of the overture, which is based on a Russian hymn. Then it built up into a fine, green scrim across the landscape. The past couple of days seems to be in the finale, with leaves bursting out almost before one’s eyes. There should be cannons and fireworks going off!

Feast for the eyes

Just sharing some pretty images from my run today, looking forward to the long Easter weekend.

Dinner in landscape
Dinner in a landscape

This view makes me think of the movie “Babette’s Feast,” with wild herbs like oregano and rosemary in the foreground, then a field of wheat, and a vineyard beyond. Based on a story by Isak Dinesen (who also wrote “Out of Africa”), “Babette’s Feast” is a must-see for any food lover.

hill of herbs
A hill of herbs

In it, Babette, a refugee from revolution in France, ends up in Denmark and is taken in as a cook by a pair of spinsters. She forages for herbs to improve the sad pantry and ends up improving the happiness of everyone around her.

bare platanes
Shorn platanes

In town, the trees looked so sad, like my brothers used to when they got their summer buzz cuts.

umbrella tree
Come summer, this mulberry tree will be a welcome parasol.






Elsewhere, the weeds put on a show to melt the heart of the tidiest gardener. Who could reject these beauties?

Constellation of flowers
These lovelies are like a constellation of flowers, as if the Milky Way had landed on the grass

We’re in a mild enough climate that many plants keep their leaves all year, even for the occasional frost.

I love this stand of bamboo.

And what is this crazy, fluffy tree?

Crazy fluffy tree

But others are just shaking out their spring finery.

Is any green as tender as that of new leaves?
red buds
Red buds blaze against a hard blue sky.

Meanwhile, the river is getting deep. There’s a spot upstream with steps to get across, and I thought the water still barely skimmed over the top, but it’s deeper than it looks. A lot.

The fishermen will show up soon to angle for trout. And in a few months, it will be a trickle, just enough to please the throngs of frogs that bellow all night long.






The name of the wind

Pyrennees and la Cite
La Cité, with the Pyrénées behind. Get your umbrella ready.

You might be familiar with the mistral, the famous winter wind of Provence. Here in the other South of France we have other names for the wind. Or winds.

Because there are many, each with its own personality.

IMG_0271 (1)
Can you see how the wind shaped these trees? They are leaning toward the southeast, bent by Cers

Cers comes out of the northwest. It’s dry and usually signals good weather. In the winter it blows cold; in the summer it can be hot. It’s the dominant wind in the region, blowing three days out of four across the plain between the Massif Central and the Pyrénées. It chases away the clouds and rain. And it can be forceful, sometimes more than 60 mph (100 kph). Still, everybody loves Cers. It’s called le vent sain—the healthy wind. It brings sun. It makes the air “breathable” in summer. It generates clean electricity. Go Cers!

Le marin is the opposite. It comes out of the southeast, from the Mediterranean, and brings rain. The marin starts out fine—a little humid, but amazingly fine days with not a cloud in the sky and picture-postcard views of the Pyrénées. But if you can see the Pyrenees, you can count on rain within three days. Usually the marin is a here-and-gone kind of wind, not staying long. But this winter, the marin has settled in for a spell, hence the above-normal temps and below-normal sunshine. In summer, everybody curses the marin: it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Usually the heat here is dry and quite bearable. Air conditioning is mostly unknown, and, frankly, unneeded. You adapt to the heat and it just doesn’t bother you. Most buildings are made of stone and stay cool even in the middle of summer.

View of Pyrennees
The Pyrénées, shot yesterday, when the temp hit 70….today it rained. Thanks, marin.

Le sirocco comes from the south, i.e., from Africa. It’s hot hot hot and dry and carries very fine sand (from the Sahara!), leaving a yellowish dusting on everything.

Le vent d’Autan blows around Toulouse, to the west, but sometimes hits Aude, with its gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph). It’s the wind that can drive you crazy, the locals say. It supposedly brings on labor in pregnant women.

Le tramontane comes out of the north, which here means the Black Mountains at the bottom of the Massif Central. Hence, it’s cold. Some people say tramontane and Cers are the same thing. It’s clearly something to argue about.

And if that’s all there is to argue about, life is pretty darn good.