Sunday, April 3, 2011


Add to Google Reader or HomepageWe have been watching for spring since the beginning of February. When Ellen was at the Institut de Français in Villefranche sur mer, hints of spring were already evident. The almond trees with their pinkish-white (or whitish-pink blossoms) were first to welcome the sun. Then, being close to the Mediterranean, the mimosas bloomed and there were hillsides covered with the yellow mimosa blossoms.

I once heard that spring travels north at a rate of 50 miles per week. It has been six weeks since Ellen left Villefranche sur mer so we have had the time to see the same hints of spring pass us here and see the real thing arrive. New leaves are coming out on the deciduous trees and the blossoms are on the fruit trees (cherry and apricot). The temperatures have hit 20 Celsius (about 70°) for the last couple of days and we have not had a frost since the Ides of March.

Another, man-made sign of spring is that the grape vines have been pruned and are ready for a new season of buds and branches to fill in with grapes. Between November and the end of the frost season, vintners and their helpers go into the vineyards are cut back all of the branches that produced grapes the previous summer. As winter progresses, one can see more and more fields of pruned grape vines. One vintner explained that they cut back all of the branches but leave enough so that the roots can produce another four to six buds. As these develop during the spring and early summer, the workers go back into the fields and remove half of the new growth thus concentrating the flow of earthly riches to a few remaining branches. This gives the wines more body and thus flavor.

Although folks sit outside in the café all winter long, the café terraces are now filled with people enjoying their coffee or glass of wine (or pastis) as they enjoy spring and watch the world walk by. We are off to join them!  Wave if you walk by, better yet, come and join us!

BTW, since we just celebrated April Fool’s day (my favorite day) I wanted you to know that it is celebrated in France as “Poisson d’avril” (Fish of April) when the French try to attach a paper fish to one’s back. Although the original celebration of fool’s day did not come from France, it has been celebrated here since the 1500s.