Sabine's Father was waiting for us at the turn-off to our cabanon rental, as he was afraid that we would miss it. He shook our hands with a dry, firm grasp and showed us the way. Down the path, up and over to arrive at the domaine that had been passed down to Sabine. For both her Mother and Father had farmed the land for lavandin, a variety of lavender, since generations.
"There is still some left in the upper field, feel free to pick as much as you like." And so we did. Bees buzzed and the warm earth released scent with every footstep. But nothing could compare to the perfume of the buds broken in the palm of our hands. Like a clean, soapy smoke if such a thing were possible. And as if all of the landscape and all of time past had dripped down into the roots, distilled.
Ben and I took off exploring while Remi patiently sorted and snipped, gathering lavender leaves to use in his fine cooking. Of course, I would call him to come see the abandoned cabanon with its well so that we could imagine what we would do with it, if it were ours. A bedroom here, the kitchen there. Plenty of shadow in the shade of the trees, an afternoon dream.
Remi presented me with a bouquet of blooms and Sabine's Mother surprised us with a vial of lavender essence, one that had been created in the traditional way. "Well, if you like that sort of thing," she added politely. I smiled widely in return and asked, "Who does not?"
Both are on my desk as I type. Later on, Sabine would tell me, "Sometimes in the heart of winter, I close my eyes and inhale a bit of essence and it is as if I am transported right back to summer and can feel the sun on my face." Today is the first sweater day of autumn here and I know these small treasures will keep me warm in the months to come.