A cool blue evening and a rich coral sunset provide the setting for this graceful branch in “The Last of the Almond Light.”
Spring has sprung!
A few days ago, I knew that spring was really here to stay when I noticed tiny spots of young spring green on the local grapevines. But in truth, spring has been teasing us for weeks now.
It began in February with the almond trees. It wasn’t like this last year, my first in the area. Last year, the flowers began to appear in January, were quickly hit with a hard frost, and that was the end of the almond bloom. This year, the trees waited a full month longer, and wow, did they put on a show. I’ve never lived near almond trees, and I felt like a kid in a candy shop; I didn’t know which way to look, and it kept getting better. One day I was out driving, and I realized that the fields and hills were dotted with what appeared to be little puffballs, soft white with a hint of pink. Everywhere I turned, puffballs. It was the almond trees, in full bloom, and it was enchanting.
There are orchards of almond trees, lined up with military precision. They all bloom at once, as the drill sergeant would demand, and a large quantity of trees in bloom is a sight to behold. But the real magic for me was the gnarly old stragglers, the few wizened survivors of a long-gone orchard, or a short line of three or four trees looking like road-side sentries. These trees are bent and twisted, their trunks showing the scars of long-ago prunings. And on walks, we were close enough to let the sweet scent of the blooms wash over us, a light and airy floral dance to enliven a winter’s day.
More spring flowers
As the almond trees were beginning to fade, the apricots began in earnest, arriving with blossoms in a deeper shade of pink. To offset all that pink, we also had a nice bloom of electric yellow mimosa trees, with their own heady perfume.
This week there are patches of purple-blue, as the irises are in full bloom; we’re also seeing the purple haze of wisteria vines beginning to flower.
Poppies are popping up, dotting roadways and fields with bright specks of vivid red. A few weeks ago, I began noticing some flowers from my past: California poppies, native to California and Mexico, have arrived in France; the delightful orange flowers always give me a smile. Those that I’m seeing around here have been planted, unlike the mind-boggling super bloom that’s happening right now in California. If you’re in California, do go check it out, and please, please, please don’t trample the flowers.
Shown above, the cistus (Latin), also known in French as ciste and in English as rock rose, is a powerhouse in the herbal medicine cabinet. Here are a few of its many uses: speeds up wound healing; maintains a healthy mouth and throat; aids with eczema, psoriasis and acne; has antifungal properties that aid with various forms of candida. And with summer approaching, here’s a good one: tea brewed with dried cistus leaves will help prevent bites from mosquitoes and other biting insects; begin a week before exposure, and drink the tea daily.
British tabloids are famous for their witty headlines. I spotted this one last week at Gatwick Airport in London, where no one has any idea what is happening with Brexit, including the people who are trying to get it done.