‘There will be more frost’ the shepherd said as we watched his flock graze only a few days ago by the side of the potager du peintre. Huh, I thought. The new season’s rays were beating on my almost bare arms, my spade was deep in the freshly warmed earth of my new plot finally uncovered after two years, my heart was singing…
Well, the shepherd was right. After one glorious week of spring sunshine and daffodils, having planted seeds (at the fruiting time of the bio-dynamic calender of course) of vieilles varietés - noir de crimée, sungold and miel de mexique tomatoes, aubergines, chili peppers and our very last much loved Sicilian courgette, having thought I’d get the whole the whole lot sorted before we leave for our (big life changing) trip, the whole lot has been swept away by a crazy stormy vicious and relentless wind.
Battening down the hatches then and we are forced to spend a few days indoors. Snuggling up with cats next to wood burners, creating the cover for my book, struggling with InDesign trying to make a table of contents from master page items, cooking up a fishy feast for our favourite chef friends, and launching Friends of Postcard from Provence.
Meanwhile, in our seasonal barometer - the Marchés de Provence - spring is, despite appearances, most definitely here with all its gifts. Fraises de Carpentras (I can’t believe I didn’t eat strawberries here until a couple of years ago - some crazy notion about cream and Wimbledon and Union jacks…) are out - Pajaro, Garriguette, and the unbearably floral Ciflorette. And the tender new asparagus. A season of asparagus risotto here we come! I am just remembering to save the tips and sauté them very briefly before placing them, along with a drizzle of grassyMourchon olive oil and a dob of crème fraîche, on top of the risotto when I hear that the news is now official. Spring has brought us another, even-greater-than-asparagus gift. Our son, Louis Joseph Alassane Merrow-Smith was born in Bamako on the 12th October 2010 and we are going to bring him back, finally, to Provence in April, to a season of puréed broad beans and peas!