Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The tramontane made me do it! (La tramontane m'a fait faire!)

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“The tramontane in France is a strong, cold wind from the northwest in lower Languedoc, Roussillon and Catalonia which accelerates as it passes between the Pyrenees and the Massif central mountains. The name was borrowed from the Latin ‘transmontanus’ and Italian ‘tramontana’, meaning not just ‘across the mountains’ but also ‘The North Star’ (literally the star "above the mountains"). The word moved from Latin into French with the meanings 'North Star' and also 'the guide". The howling noise of the tramontane is said to have a disturbing effect upon the psyche. In 1636 the French expression "perdre la tramontane" meant ‘to be disoriented’." Wikipedia, “Tramontane”

I got myself out of the house at twilight one evening last week and walked up the Chemin du Tour du Parc, the little lane that runs along the bottom edge of the village beside the walled grounds of the Abbaye Ecole (the Abbey School built in the 8th century). I was happy to see the work that had been done to cut back the underbrush along the stream that runs beside it, making this une promenade plus agreeable, a much nicer walk.

As I got to the top of the lane, I saw that the field where two donkeys were pastured last year is now unfenced so that you can walk over to a broader part of the stream and a small waterfall. Not only is this a sweet spot, which I’m hoping the village is making available to residents and visitors, it is also fertile ground, thanks to the donkeys, which already has wild violets blooming along its edge. I thought how nice it would be to have un champ de fleurs sauvages au printemps ici, a whole field of wildflowers here in the Spring.

Early Saturday morning, the tramontane wind came mewling at the shutters, clawing at my dreams. It wound around the legs and shopping trolleys of the villagers at the market, snagging their scarves and coats, pulling them open to the cold. Instead of lingering over my coffee at the café on the square after I'd gotten my fruits and vegetables, I went to do some inside errands at the Point Verte. While surveying the offerings and expanding my vocabulary on the seed aisle, I found 800 gram bags marked Jachere Campagne en Fleurs, fallow field in flower. Right up my alley!

I could see the rain hightailing it through the towns on the surrounding hills toward Soreze, so I drove directly up the lane when I got back. I walked onto the soft loam with my sack of wildflower seeds and twirled in the wind letting le blanc, jaune, orange, rouge, rose, violet, bleu of future Springs fly from my hands to wherever they wanted to grow.

à la prochaine,


swallowtail said...

Oh Oh Oh! My sister in urban-guerilla sisterhood! Bravo! Leaving your fingerprints on the whole country, in blossoms. Will you be able to post the blooming? Or will we have to enlist a squadron of photographers? Yes. Yes. Yes. xoxo

N2 said...

It has been raining almost every day since the guerilla planting. I am hoping to have at least some results before I have to leave in May. =o)

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