At last the earth has tilted her head down enough so we in the Northern Hemisphere can enjoy more sun! Now that I’m in a climate that is more expressive in its way of showing off the seasons, I can appreciate Spring even more. The largely agricultural landscape around St. Cannat has a downy look and is pink with swollen buds. The excitement of  burgeoning life reminds me of the opening to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”: tiny bits of disconnected sound that gain power and coherence in a short amount of time. I guess that was what he was after!

watercolour landscape

The Cours Mirabeau burst into its own version of blossom with the sudden busy-ness of folks drawn to the outdoors after long months of cold: there were crowds of people in their sunglasses at all the bistros and cafés. I couldn’t resist joining them. I ordered the “Plat Minceur”. Of course, this was not in any way dietetic: in fact I was attracted to the hearty stew with a fat duck leg in it (I spotted the dish being served to a svelte and stylish-looking young french woman) because I was starving. Because the canopy of platanes is still naked, everyone is exposed to sunshine that is, remember, as strong as that of mid-September. I came away not only with a full stomach, but a bit of a sunburn.

drawing of the Cours Mirabeau


While downtown Aix is bustling with newly emerged Aixois, the surrounding countryside is showing signs of life, from the cultivated forsythia and crocuses to the wild narcissus, which I had never seen before, but found on a hike I took near the Mediterranean. They are  more delicate that the kind we force at home. I also saw plenty of the horrifying chenilles processionnaires, which, like our tent caterpillars, wreak hovoc on the trees, but in addition, march across the landscape nose to tail in a long train of writhing fuzz. They will even climb right up your leg and coat in their orderly and disconcerting way!

Of course I had to buy some spring-colored pants (it’s still chilly, but one wants one’s sartorial choices to suit the season). I got these lemon-colored ones at Monoprix. It’s funny how, in France, stores like Monoprix, or Casino stock everything—from nice cheeses to underpants. I even bought a vacuum cleaner and food processor at the Geant supermarché Casino!

montage of photos

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