For the past couple of years I’ve been spending most of the winter months in Japan, or somewhere else. Last year I spent most of January in New York and Seattle promoting the Just Bento Cookbook , and the year before I was in Japan, doing the photoshoot for the book! And the year before that I was in Zürich. So, even though we bought this old broken down stone house about 2 years ago, this is the first January I’ve been here.
There isn’t too much going on in this sleepy corner of France in the winter months. The tourists will start arriving in the spring, and the fields are quiet. But it’s still so beautiful. I’ve been indoors most of the time for weeks, waiting for my surgery wound to heal. It’s finally started healing up a bit so I can go out (at least, it’s not leaking copiously anymore). It feels so good to feel some fresh air on my face again.
Olive trees keep their shimmery silver leaves throughout the winter. We don’t get much snow here in Provence, except on the top of Mont Ventoux, here in the background.
Besides olives and vines, many kinds of fruit trees are grown here. Here in the Baronnies, in an area just to the north of Provence proper called the Drôme Provençale (administratively part of the Rhône-Alpes, but in spirit and landscape all Provence) the land is very hilly, so the orchards are terraced. I think they are apricot trees there.
And of course, there are vineyards, many many vineyards. These terraced vineyards are about 10 minutes away from the house, nestled in a magical little valley. Everywhere you go in this northern section of Provence, wherever there is a little patch of sunny land, it is planted with vines or olive trees or fruit trees. (The Dentelles de Montmirail, which you can see in the far right, are nearby many famous AOC wine producing villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise.)
Still some ways to go for these old vines…
It’s hard to believe this dead looking branch will be, in just a few weeks, bursting with life. But it will. It’s just taking a long nap.
More than the plants are taking a winter break. We stopped by one of my favorite brocante (junk/antiques shop) a few days ago, only to discover it’s closed…until February 29th! Someone had impatiently scribbled underneath the store sign, “[2 months is] VERY long!!”
By the end of February, my surgery wound will hopefully have finally healed and I’ll be able to move around freely. My father’s memorial service will be done. In March my radiation therapy will begin, but I feel confident that it will go well. And maybe we can resume work on the old house again, finally install a kitchen, finish the floors, install a staircase to the upstairs. Ah, so many things. Still, when I see how much beauty we are surrounded by here, I feel so very lucky.
In the meantime, on February 29th I’ll be there at that store to see if they’ve gotten in anything new. I can’t wait.