au Printemps

au les montagnesThe last few days have felt like Summer here in the south of France. Today was upwards of 25 degrees C and this evening is lovely and balmy.  Finally the palm trees that dot the region actually seem appropriate!  It has been so cold until recently- still winter really; just like other parts of the Northern Hemisphere.  Now the leaves are budding out on all the huge old, until now, stark trees and the other day, when I was up in the mountains for a picnic, I saw that the lilacs are opening and the wild thyme that covers the rocky hillsides is beginning to bloom.  The wisteria I referred to previously is just peaking in its ravenous sprawling purple splendour and the early blooming fragile pink roses that are scattered along hedges and wrought iron gates are just dropping their petals.yum!

However, for me, none of these are as magnificent as the heady fragrance of the lemon and orange trees that are now in full bloom.   On Sunday, I went to la Fete du Chocolat in a suburb of Cannes, and despite the distraction of the various chocolate vendors, I was drawn like a honeybee to the intoxicating heavy honeyed sweetness of an overgrown deserted garden that contained three large orange trees in full bloom.  Rebecca had to drag me away, as I would have happily spent the afternoon there becoming more and more drunk on their perfume!  This was truly my idea of heaven.

I sit here now with the windows wide and the orange blossomssounds of the narrow streets below interspersed with a new bird song.  Until now, the only birds I could see and hear were the pigeons, but suddenly, on Saturday afternoon, a new sound pierced the air with rather alarming shrillness.  The first time I heard it, I ran to the window thinking a baby pigeon had fallen from its nest and was calling in distress.  But no, this was only the beginning of a consistent presence of these small birds who flit between the buildings and shreik their incessant little songs all day long.  Perhaps some sort of lark?  Je ne sais pas, but I suppose they are another indication of thp1010132.jpge definite change of season. 

I have wireless internet now- finally!  My friend Rebecca came over this afternoon and unravelled for me the configuration so I could connect.  Sometimes even a French/English dictionary is not nearly enough! Now my reports will return to some level of regularity. 

the birthday and the resurrection

I began my 38th year by dancing all night in a packed club in Monaco.  Earlier in the week I had managed to find and book a room in a hotel in Beausoleil, which technically is in France although it is only 5 minutes walk up the hill from the huge ornate Casino in Monte Carlo.  (Monaco is really tiny!) We got ourselves settled in to the room, finding out how to put together the hide-a-beds and then after a snack of bread, olives and cheese, we went out to a small and modest Portuguese restaurant.  I had my favorite dish of crevettes grille and salade and we all feasted and toasted the birthday girl.  Then, full and sleepy, we went back to our room for a nap in preparation for the long night ahead. monaco facade


Monaco is a fairy tale place, as I have said before and this was my third time here and I continue to love it. 
Monaco, visually, is an example of the beauty that lots of money can create. The buildings are beautiful and ornate, exceptionally elegant and pleasing to the eye. There are carved stone scrolls and accents, wrought iron, beautiful colours and spectacular gardens everywhere.

We got to the club at about 1am and the place was full of the usual crowd; 20-somethings- Italians, French and Monaco-ese.  Lots of Italians actually, including a few older ones with the stereotypical wondering hands and the lady-killing sweet talk.  Luckily the music is so loud, not much talking is to be had, and if you’re not on the dance floor, you have only moments to interact with people anyway before you get carried along in the throngs as everyone circulates like water through the expansive club. It’s loud and smoky and hot and crowded. Outside is a huge terrace, and it was here that I was told by a couple of young guys, candidly, without pretense, that absolutely no way I was 37; I was most certainly 29 at the most.  Smoking is aging and many people here smoke.  I noticed this is in Paris as well, where I was really surprised to see the hint of haggardness in the faces of the women.  A regime of essential oils and organic food seems to work for me, although my Gramma says, you are only as old as you feel; and I really don’t feel any age in particular. I’m just happy to be alive having this beautiful adventure!

 

Five am comes quickly when you’re having fun, and after a bit of upset because Ana lost her bag containing passport and all her cards, I squeezed in about 2 hours sleep.  A friend who lives in the town of Ventimiglia, just across the border in Italy, had a birthday plan for me so I could hardly sleep the day away!

dolceacquaWe drove to Dolceacqua, (Sweet Water), a gorgeous classic medieval village in Italy.  All stone built up upon stone, narrow little streets, all dark and layered upon itself- steep and winding up to a huge ruined citadel on the top of the hill.  To access the city, you must cross the river on a curving arched stone footbridge- ancient as well and meticulous in its structure and design. All the little shops are the galleries of artists of various mediums.  Again I was smitten with the amount of artists who abide in this part of the world.  Art, old and new, is everywhere.

Later, after seeing the cathedral in the old city of Vingtimiglia, and being amazed by the feralferal cats cats, I caught the train home.  Because it was Sunday and appropriately, the day of the Resurrection, there was a wait in Cannes, but I was home in 4 hours.  

A beautiful beginning to the year- just in time for Spring with wisteria bursting along walls and gates and blossoms on a plethora of mystery fruit trees.  Happy resurrection!

this is my haven….

Here is a photo of my little home- tucked into the honey comb of the old city- on the third floor above the narrow little stone street.

home

Sunday is the anniversary of my birth, 37 years ago, and two dear friends from school and I are going to Monaco to eat good food, and dance the night away.  The air will be fragranced with mounds of jasmine in full bloom and the heady fragrance of the lemon and orange trees.  Life, for me,  is truly precious and fragrantly beautiful! 

May it be for all of you as well.

fairy-tale evenings

A quick little hello to say that I am once again immersed in a busy week of school- the chemistry studies have begun and we are still managing to memorize more raw materials.  We are now covering about 3 new ones per day bringing the total as of today to about 300.  We are being tested constantly which proves to be the best method of keeping the knowledge fresh and accessible.

We spent the weekend exploring the area, including Eze, which is a place I have been saving.  This is a stunning little stone village perched way up above the Mediterranean.  We had lunch there and then descended the 1500 feet vertical mountain-goat trail to Eze sur Mer, just before the rain began.  That night, we stayed in Beausoleil, which is basically Monte Carlo, which is Monaco, and went out dancing until 5 am.  What fabulous medicine for the soul!  So many beautiful young people, so charming and fabulous.  A fairy tale place really. I am in love with Monaco, I have to say.

Fragrant thoughts full of love and spring to all of you………………….keep the comments coming!