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all a dream we dreamed

Image by Kalense Kid
At the improbably early hour of half past seven, we filtered into the bus, dazed, in the square next to the church. For the next two hours I left the driving to a person else and gazed vacantly out of the window. France rolled by, significantly of it twisty, almost all of it blurred. Camera shake, but with out the camera.

We went 1st to appear at lavender fields. The stuff’s been used, so we have been told, to scent soap at least because Roman occasions, therefore the name of the plant (from lavare, to wash). Up till the early 1960s, Provence was coloured lavender in July, as anybody who’s looked at a Van Gogh painting can testify. There are 20 or 30 species of the plant, of which 3 get onto French farmers’ radar.

The king of lavenders is Lavendula angustifolia, revered for its delicate camphorous and pricey oil, used in fine perfumes. The knave is L. latifolia, a clumsy oafish plant employed to make paint. And then there’s the 1 we stood and looked at, a hybrid of the other two. It smelt like detergent, washing powder, or low cost shampoos.

Our guide told us that competitors with overseas growers, specially in Bulgaria and increasingly China, has lowered the cost so considerably that French farmers discover it hard to make a living out of what was once an simple funds-spinner.

With the alarming prospect of in fact obtaining do some function to make income, many lavender farmers are looking for other sources of revenue. Truffles appear to be the way to go. Each truffle weighs in between 10 and one hundred gm, and in France you can get €600 – €1000 for a kilo.

In France, truffles are on a par with Joan of Arc – a mystical subject to treat with reverence. As opposed to the late Joan – or Jeanne – truffles are only ever accidentally burned to a crisp. Much more usually they are a fragrant and considerably-prized ingredient in top-finish omelettes, sauces, and pastry, and only handed over to the English with regret.

There are dozens of species of these subterranean fungi, but the one that French pigs and folks like to eat is Tuber melanosporum, the Périgord truffle, rabasse, or Black Diamond. They reside in a curiously intimate connection with a variety of species of tree, which includes Quercus ilex, the evergreen Holm Oak and Quercus pubescens, the White Oak, but since this is a loved ones show, we shall gloss more than the particulars.

Until very not too long ago, no one knew how to cultivate truffles. Well, to tell the truth, they still don’t, but on the principle that you can not win if you do not participate, the far more truffle oak seedlings you plant, and the more soil you import from close to current truffle infestations, the much better. I could go on to talk about the relative merits of truffle pigs and truffle dogs, but you have suffered enough of this drivel currently.

The upshot is that all these characteristic Provençal lines of lavender will steadily be replaced by oaks.

This tunnel? It is component of an evil program to convert the spectacular Grand Canyon du Verdon into a vast lake. The Baou Tunnel is one of numerous that would have been portion of a massive hydroelectric scheme. Fortunately the Great War intervened – I’ve been wanting to create one thing constructive about WWI for decades, and now I’ve accomplished it – and the scheme was abandoned. Today this tunnel is a single of many on the Sentier Martel, element of the Grande Randonnée four. The canyon is well worth the pay a visit to, but put on waterproof boots. The tunnel floors are at times, as right here, mostly puddle.

This shot was taken by the random light of the flashlights carried by the other people on the field trip. I waited until they’d all gone. The tunnel was darker than anything I’ve ever been unable to see.

Date: 2007 09 06
Geotag: N 43°46’54.74 E 006°23’27.78
Title: Grateful Dead – Box of Rain

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