Yesterday I woke from my siesta to the sound of wind whistling through the cypress tree that grows just outside my bedroom. I rushed straight out, my thoughts firmly on closing the cold frames, looked up and was astounded.
People often write, mainly in clichés elegant or otherwise, about the ‘intense’ ‘dazzling’ ‘mesmerising’ blue of the sky in Provence. Coming from London where the sky is often just a grey smudge between buildings, I tend not to pay much heed. Yesterday was different.
Suddenly the normal view of rolling foothills, (the last of the Alps as they crash haphazardly down to the Mediterranean, their feet lost in haze), was gone. Instead, a flattened and sharpened view, almost as if it had suddenly become 2D - hard angles everywhere of jutting cypresses and their deep shadows. The customary smudge of sea fading to sky across the horizon replaced by a hard blue line, Prussian Blue sea to azure sky.
So, ‘this is the Mistral’ I thought. It’s the wind that drove Van Gogh mad - but here, sheltered as we are by the escarpment, we escape its worst effects almost entirely. But I'm still gobsmacked by the way it changes the light and how clear it makes the air. When it was at its height, Corsica appeared in the far distance - which according to Google Earth is over 100 miles away!
Already bright colour suddenly become supersaturated - the whole world looks like it’s been photoshopped. Beautiful wild anemones in shine deep red in the meadows and I made a surprising discovery digging the potager - a turgid little bit of rhubarb sprouting shocking pink underground from a discarded root.