edited: Thursday, July 04, 2002
By Carol M. Cram
Posted: Thursday, July 04, 2002
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Vignette about the joys of Lavender and Provence.
When I was a child, only grandmas smelled of lavender. Sweet and cloying, their lavender lingered on your cheek where they kissed you and filled their overstuffed rooms with the smell of old age and its close friend death.
Now I smell of lavender, my underwear and tea towels smell of lavender, our souvenir table smells of lavender, and even my office smells of lavender. If we had a dog, I suppose it too would smell of lavender. In short, we have gone lavender mad. Why? Because we’ve stood awestruck before the Abbey at Senanque in lavender season, strewn handfuls of lavender on the floor of the rental car, pressed sprigs of lavender into the family scrap book, driven behind an old farm truck stacked high with fresh-picked lavender, and looked down over field after field of planted lavender glowing purple in the late afternoon sun.
Perhaps we’ve come to love lavender so much because it represents the kind of relaxed lifestyle in rural nirvana that we all crave, especially on November afternoons when the rains turn the world black and gray. Also, the lavender of Provence doesn’t at all smell like grannie. Instead, it smells clean and sharp, like dawn in the country. One whiff and you’re hooked for life.
And then you must consider the color of lavender. It is, well, lavender—but what a lavender! Purple or mauve doesn’t do it justice. No, the lavender of Provence is lilacs and violets and amethysts all rolled into one glorious hue that shifts with the movement of the clouds—one moment luminous in the sun, the next moment cool and dark.
Stand before the evenly spaces rows of plump lavender bushes and I defy you not to breathe deeply and sigh with elemental pleasure. Just resist the temptation to fling yourself into the closest bush, arms outstretched to gather in the glory. That humming sound you hear is not coming from a nearby farm worker happily tilling his fields. That humming sound comes from thousands upon thousands of bees.
In Provence, every tourist shop contains is loaded down with jars of honey as golden as the early morning sun.