We usually say that it’s the month of March that can come in like a lamb (or a lion). This year, however, January in the Luberon has come in like a lamb.
New Year’s Day was uncharacteristically gray and rainy. It seemed foreboding, a harbinger of bleak January days to come. Then voilà, on the second day of the new year, the sun came out and the last eight days have been very nice. Oh, it gets cold at night, and there’s likely to be frost on the windshield and roads in the morning. Once the sun comes up, the frost melts, and the day moves on warm and wonderful.
I was invited to lunch earlier in the week. Our hostess had alerted us that we might be able to be outside but to bring a sweater, just in case. When we arrived, the sky was veiled and dining al fresco was ruled out. Then, an hour later, the sky had cleared. The twelve of us wandered out onto the south-facing terrace. A vote was taken and tables were moved outside. It was a leisurely two-plus hour lunch and all in full sun. No sweaters required.
It’s the lure of the Luberon. Never mind that the local French residents will look at me incredulously: “You come for the winter?” (with the emphasis on the word winter). It’s the lure of blue skies and sunshine. It’s the chance to dine on the terrace in the middle of winter. It’s watching the morning mist and haze burn away as the sun goes higher in the sky and melts away the frost.
From my bedroom window I watch a magpie balance precariously on the top of a cypress tree. Snippets of nature (as well as other things) remind me that I am not in Michigan. No magpies in Traverse City. No cypress trees either. I am in southern France.
This January morning, the mist and fog have rolled up from the valley to Saignon. So many of these French villages, villages perchés, are quite literally perched on the side of mountains and hills. Perched so the people who lived there could see the enemy approaching. I wonder what they did on foggy mornings? Did the enemy not choose to strike in the fog?
In the morning, the thermometer often hovers at the freezing mark. Another reason to stay inside and not venture down to town. The road from Saignon down to Apt twists and turns and, on a day like today, spots of black ice lie waiting to trick a driver into thinking the road is clear.
Looking out at the stone buildings that surround me, it is not hard to imagine life here, centuries ago. “Imagine” being the operative word. The buildings float in and out of view as the mist and fog swirl around.
As I finish writing this post and look out the window, the mist from earlier this morning is gone. The sky is brilliant blue and the sun is shinning.