Sunday is market day in the village. The sun was out after the thunderstorms and heavy rain of yesterday, and the cafe overlooking the square was filling up. First stop was with Robert, the egg man.
'These eggs will make you feel happy,' he said, smiling broadly. Only two days ago, I had been reading that eating eggs increases dopamine in the body, which makes one feel more happy and motivated,
'And are the chickens happy?' I asked. '
'Absolument. They peck about outside in the grass all day. Please come and visit them and the ducks anytime.' As he picked out twelve eggs stuck with straw, he explained where he lives in the village. He did look piratically happy as he kissed the regulars on both cheeks.
My friend, Elizabeth and I had another invitation from François, who grows organic vegetables, to visit his farm next Saturday. His stall was loaded with vibrantly healthy vegetables, including broad beans, beetroot, radishes and frilly lettuces, as well as vegetable plants for the garden. My neighbour, Josie, had already warned me not to plant anything out until after the 13th May as tomatoes and other tender plants are not safe until after the last of the Ice Saints days, les saints de glace, has been and gone. François scribbled complicated directions to his place on the back of my shopping list. I hope I can find it!
As I was taking photographs of the market, a voice behind me pronounced, 'photographs are sentimental, Madame.' I turned around. A man, well dressed in tweed, was smiling wryly at me. I smiled back. 'Not always,' I said. But I have to admit that he has a point. It can be tempting to edit Provence down to garish lavender fields and sunlit hills. And yet those things are there. Just know that in the moment I pressed the shutter on these delicious olives, the stall holder cried out, 'merde!' as the pesky wind blew over the canopy. As my mother says, (she lived here for over fifteen years) 'Haute Provence ain't the Riviera!'
When I went to join Elizabeth at the cafe, I spotted this shopping on a neighbouring table. Sentimental? Maybe. Posed? Non!
France goes to the polls today. Provence is solid Le Pen territory. Reillanne and Forcalquier are rich with artists and creatives and have a vibrant counter culture. These three beauties sang Italian Resistance songs at the top of their voices in the market. I'm crossing everything for Macron.