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Southern France
Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fruits of Labor

Taken in July 2006.
 This is less than half of the garden, which extends past the stone wall and over doubles in size.  Only part of the upper terrace can be seen.

This is the time when things start to get busy in the garden.  Some of the garden is planted, some already needs weeding, and some, like the strawberries, is already giving fruit.  This is our goal, but it means I have to be prepared for making jam that night, and sometimes I’m not always up for the task.  That’s life with the cycle of a garden, and while sometimes it means making jam late into the evening, it also means having a plethora of things to keep us busy and bushels upon bushels of fresh food to eat.

Besides having great produce at our fingertips all summer long, the pleasure of working and accomplishing something with our own hands is something to find pride in.  We like watching the garden grow due to our hard efforts, and believe me, things from Nature here don’t come easy.  Forget the romantic idea about Southern France, not all of it is a cake walk.  There are lavender fields, botanical gardens, and some of the best honey you’ll ever eat, but there is also the daily reality of life in a Mediterranean environment.  The dirt is rocky and poor.  The sun beats down hard and days are long and hot – and there is no air conditioning in a 600 year old house.  We water the garden in the evening so the plants get the most out of it, and the watering the garden is all done by hand – when there is water, that is. 

The work is hard, but we do it willingly; we don’t need the garden to survive.  We do it because we want to.  We want to feel satisfied after a long day and see the fruits of labor.  These fruits, which we conserve to get us morally through the cold and windy nights of winter, are why we toil and do what we do.  Some have asked why we make things so difficult when there are easier routes: don’t mend a stone wall when cement will do; don’t build a fence with string will suffice; don’t grow a garden in a land so hard.

Making jam after the sun has already set is not always my idea of a fun evening, but it is time well spent.  I see the fruits of my labor and I get to go to bed happily knowing it will be there on the table in the morning waiting for me.  I have accomplished something, and I also get to join in its spoils.

This is one of my favorite views of the garden.  It's taken fron a wall on the upper terrace.  The hoses seen are not used to water with sprinkers, but rather to fill up the zinc tub seen.  We plunge watering cans into it and water all the plants by hand.

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