It seems that in the Mediterranean world, the farther south you travel the more deliciously intense everything becomes. So when our assignment this weekend took us to Aix-en-Provence, we knew we were in for an overdose "à la provençale".
The route to Aix from our home base in Lyon skirts the Vaucluse department and the natural park of the Luberon. In years past we have driven around many of the villages that cling to the cliffs of these rural mountains, but our visits here were always in early spring. This year we are here in summer when lavender is blooming and cigales are performing. Cigales are little insects that sing all day long like crickets on steroids. In his fable "La Cigale et la Fourmi" ("The Cricket and the Ant"), La Fontaine tells of the ant who worked all day all summer long preparing for winter while the cigale just sang. When winter came, the unprepared cigale asks the ant what he should do now: the ant suggests that perhaps he should try dancing.
During our self-reliance fireside in the Aix-en-Provence ward, we mentioned how much we enjoyed being there in the summer and how we even liked the cigales. One ward member reminded us however that the cigale is not a very good example of self-reliance. On this cue, French literature professor Sœur Geddes launched into a recitation of "La Cigale et la Fourmi" to a rather astonished group. This is the first time that one of our self-reliance devotionals received a round of applause from the participants!
A cigale singing in a tree.
The village of Gordes in the Luberon
A Luberon wind-mill.
A field of lavender with our dear friends and fellow missionaries, the Egans.
They came and helped us with our assignment in Aix-en-Provence.
Rousillon, another of the many small villages of the Luberon.
Cliffs of ochre around Rousillon
The still active Cistercian monastery of Senanque in a field of lavender near Gordes.
Sœur Geddes loves lavender!
It would be impossible to describe the colors, sounds, smells, taste and feel of a provençale marché
like the Saturday market in Aix-en-Provence. These pictures might give a little bit of an idea.
Provence during lavender season is "magnifique"!