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Botanicals

I do not claim to be a botanist but it is impossible to live here without developing an interest in the plants and flowers around.  I moved here in September so I have had the joy of watching the mushrooms quite literally, well – mushroom, thriving as they will in the damp forests.  I have indulged in a few from the market but have thus far avoided picking to eat.  I do have a book but you have to be ultra cautious.  The book is quite alarming actually – a couple of chefs hats to indicate they taste pretty good but a caution that they might be mistaken for their poisonous sister.  Some have a skull and cross bones to tell you they are lethal.

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Moss and lichen thrive.  Lichen only survives in the cleanest air which tells you how clear it is here.  The moss is an endless source of joy to me as are the ferns (some of which turn to bracken as winter beckons and other types which stay green and frisky year round).  As a small child I remember the delight of stroking furry, velvety moss and the equal delight of the crackle of bracken on a day when your breath froze before it left your nostrils.  Child-hood memories abound here in this place which heralds and dawn unfettered by modern life.

We have mountain flowers too, of course, and the princess amongst them is Gentiane.  Those familiar with the alps will know all about gentiane – a lovely little blue flower which studs the mountains as the snows recede.  So much an insignia of the mountains that you can buy, along with Eidelwiess, pretty plaster of Paris brooches in most village stores in the Alps and the Pyrenees.  But here in Auvergne, along with the blue we have a unique yellow sister.  The pays around Riom Es Montagne takes its name from her and she is of course abundant high on Puy Mary and Puy de Sancy.

In summer the whole area is a mass of different yellow flowers high and low – those we call Broom and the French by her Latin name ‘Genista’.

Flowers-cropped-more from 12-16-56I carried it in my wedding bouquet, threaded with other wild flowers all picked in the fields belonging to Ernest and Christine who you will meet on their farm high above Marcenat in the Cezalier one of the highest pays of the Cantal.   Our two younger daughters raided the buckets we had gathered that evening the following morning and tied me the simplest bouquet.  Later I threw it in the time-honoured tradition over my shoulder to the girls knowing the catcher would, of course, be prophesied the next bride.  What I didn’t know was that Philippe the Gendarme had infiltrated and being unable to resist his most competitive instincts (he being a man who has climbed Everest and K2 amongst numerous other significant peaks), seized the bouquet as it sailed through the air – fuelled with wine and food and the good spirit of the day he did a victory dance and then knelt down and presented it to number one daughter.  He was disarmingly thrilled in November when I told him that her beloved had proposed the previous weekend, feeling that he had contributed in some way to the course of her life.  Superstitions are often global.

I look forward to the seasons being seasoned by flowers and fungus and moss, by grasses and lichens, by berries and nuts and ferns.  Some will decorate my home, others will be eaten or drunk and all will be feasted on by my hungry eyes as the little bee here feasts on the nectar of a foxglove south of Aurillac.

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34 Comments Post a comment
  1. Superb! Thank you. Having lived in the Cantal and with the Department’s unique, unspoiled beauty – and still having a property there, your posts are becoming my closest friends! Our village GP has a whole host of glossy posters decorating his surgery waiting-room, each bears a beautiful ‘blown-up’ photograph of a non-edible toadstool/mushroom. But, if, like me and my family, you would rather err on the side of caution, taking freshly picked fungi to the village pharmacy for ‘Elf & Safety assessment will bring the assurance you need – or, a dramatic shake of the pharmacist’s head! I’m reading on…and will now click to follow your blog. 🙂

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    January 30, 2014
    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments. And – for the advice on fungi …. that is a really good steer! So glad you are enjoying the blog and I look forward to ‘seeing’ you again!

      Like

      January 30, 2014
      • You’re very welcome, Osyth, we will definitely be e-meeting again. Do you have any objections to me recommending your blog through the Hobos In France Forum? It’s a small forum, with a FB HIF Group ‘partner’ and a FB HIF Animals Rehoming Group, in addition to Twitter and Google+ sites. On the main forum, we have a section for recommending blogs. Hope your answer is a positive, I know many folks (many of them living in the Auvergne) who I’m sure will really appreciate your blog! Chrissie

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        January 30, 2014
  2. Super-duper, I look forward to it and in the meantime, I am very happy to be recommended on your Forum. Gotta love Social Media!

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    January 30, 2014
  3. I have never seen so much moss on a rock or a tree before. Those are amazing captures. My local dune woods do not have as much moss as I would like to see. I imagine that is because we are close to factories and as our neighborhood is actually ‘in’ the dune woods we have a lot of people and their pets walking through, disturbing any mosses before they can get a foothold. I have to drive an hour and a half north before I get into some nice moss coverage…nothing like your photos though.

    Liked by 2 people

    January 27, 2015
    • We are so fortunate here, Dunelight … we are a forgotten corner and as such relatively unpolluted and undisturbed giving the plant life including clean living lichens a chance to thrive. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I will be looking properly at your blog later 🙂

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      January 27, 2015
  4. Love the colours of the broom and the beauty of the foxglove. The texture of the edible plants look so tempting!! That’s great you can get them from the local market and check out the ones that are good to eat.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 12, 2015
    • thank you for the lovely comment! I too love the colours and variety of wildflowers … I always loved that foxgloves are so called – imagining beautiful lady foxes donning them as mittens! I’m delighted to ‘meet’ you too and also look forward to reading more of your work 🙂

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      July 12, 2015
  5. Wow love the rock covered with ferns…I have boulders (big field rocks) around my front yard as a fence so people won’t turn around on my property…I purposely picked out the ones covered with moss and lichen…I water them often to help keep them alive an mix buttermilk with water and feed them….I think my husband confirmed my craziness when I started to do that, but I caught him watering them too. LOL love the pictures….how are you been….kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    September 8, 2015
  6. Ah you were married in France? We are getting married next year, but in Liverpool, as it is central to everyone. We have a PACS here, but the paperwork was a nightmare with me being English, and all my documents had to be translated at great expense by an official translator from their list.
    How did you get around all that, as to be married it was even more complicated. They kept demanding my ‘life book’ and I kept telling them that I am English and I do not have one,.
    They would not accept my original birth certificate, making me get a copy from the ‘town hall’ (registry office to us) which cost me £98.
    Liverpool registry office just want proof of birth, passport and proof of address from Marc, and for us to be resident for 9 days before the notice, so MUCH simpler than here.
    At one stage they insisted that I had an identity card, but I got around that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 24, 2015
    • It was just a question of having an address in the town. We had to provide copies of birth and divorce certficates but that was all. Translated, of course which as you say costs a fortune. I’m guessing it is down to the individual Maire (who knew us before) and being in the back end of no-where is probably easier than Paris?

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      September 24, 2015
  7. Ah that does help here – who you know – but so many problems with illegal immigrants and false marriages etc here that it is very tight.
    Plus we wanted a degree of English law to apply otherwise I would not have a leg to stand on, married or not under French civil and inheritance laws.
    Plus the inheritance tax even if married, hopefully we will retire back to Wales and avoid their laws all together!
    Maybe more complicated as we are different nationalities also.
    Very interesting getting your point of view on things as we seem to have done things in the inverse

    Liked by 1 person

    September 24, 2015
    • French inheritance laws are the stuff of nightmare …. enough said!

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      September 24, 2015
  8. We have a lot of (yellow) scotch broom here. They are an invasive species, but I think they are beautiful. I’ve noticed that lots of people are allergic to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 12, 2016
    • They are certainly a species that will take a strong hold but like you, I think they are beautiful. I haven’t come across allergy to them in France …. Interesting

      Liked by 1 person

      March 12, 2016
  9. I love everything connected to nature! XOXO I love your photos! I just posted my London, Paris and Italy trip! I just followed you too! Let’s keep connected! https://thelostmango.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    November 15, 2016
    • Thank you. And I will check out that post – I’ve lived in all three places to it will be a little slice of heaven for me, I’m sure. Thank you so much for following – I’m flattered. I do my follow admin on a Sunday so watch out for a newbie then!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 16, 2016
      • Thank you too, girl! What are you up to? I just posted my Switzerland trip! Let’s keep connected! XOXO https://thelostmango.wordpress.com

        Liked by 1 person

        November 18, 2016
      • I’m up to just finishing a year in New England and heading back to Old England in two weeks time before I go home to France!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 18, 2016
      • OMG! I simply love France! I just posted my 2nd part of Switzerland trip! I hope you enjoy! Let’s connect! Hope to see and hear more from you! XOXO https://thelostmango.wordpress.com

        Liked by 1 person

        November 22, 2016
      • Thank you …. I will visit your site now – I’m sure I will enjoy your reflections 🙂

        Like

        November 22, 2016
  10. The photo of the moss on the tree trunk is so dramatic!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 22, 2017
    • How very kind of you to stop by and take the time to comment …. I’m very pleased to meet you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      March 22, 2017
  11. Gentian blue is also the name of an oil colour. When I used to watch my Dad paint as a young child I would marvel at all the names on the tubes of paint, wondering things like: what the difference was between Gentian Blue and Cobalt Blue, or Titanium White and Chinese White. It truly intrigued and baffled me. But either way I memorised them all, and over the years I’ve discovered the histories of such naming of paint pigments. Of course, Gentian Blue is a lovely shade of blue indeed! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    August 8, 2017
    • Gentian is a lovely Alpine flower. In Auvergne we also have a yellow Gentiane which is nothing at all like the little pixie flower of the alpes but makes a lethal eau de vie called Avéze .. I have been known to imbibe 😉 Colour names are SO evocative. You ask if I have any other artistic skills. i do draw and I am thinking of branching into a coloured world. Probably water colour. Apart from that I just spout nonsense 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      August 8, 2017
      • Ha! Spouting nonsense is of course as splendid art form! Before reading your post I was unaware of a yellow Gentiane. I am intrigued now, that they turn it into a lethal brew – no surprise though. Mountain folk are very resourceful. Having lived on the outskirts of the Black Forrest I know this all too well!
        I know you move around from time to time, so I can only assume you are still in France, as your post was dated March. Your country surroundings sound perfect for watercolour interpretations. Would you be posting any samples here at some future point…?

        Liked by 1 person

        August 8, 2017
      • I lived in Cantal (la France très Profonde) for some time and we have a house there so we go there still from time to time. Then I was in the US for a year and since December I’ve been in Grenoble keeping the gateway to the Alpes on it’s toes! The Aveze is typical hooch really but neon yellow which makes me laughter. I would like to stop moving really but there are a couple more before we settle I think. I’ll write about the why one day but meantime feel free to trawl through my archives (posts rather than pages) where you will find many pictures that I am happy to be used so long as they have a passing credit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        August 8, 2017
      • I shall indeed have a trawl.

        The neon yellow Aveze sounds toxic! 🙂

        I suppose I’ve done my fair share of moving too over the years. Here to stay in Maryland for a while though I would imagine. If we move it’ll be somewhere else in the States. Now that my husband and I are both retired we’re not tied here anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        August 8, 2017
      • That’s just the thing …. my husband has worked as a Fed since 1989 so our pensions and Health Care (rather good health care as it happens) are all in the States and though we both harbour a notion of retiring here in France (Cantal with the toxic sounding luminous yellow Geniane) we might need to rethink that and stay in the States. We have a house in Mass. We’ll toss a coin in the next 12 months … I love a gamble (not!) Thank you for your kindess

        Liked by 1 person

        August 8, 2017
      • Same with us really. Pension and good good health care are tied here. We had toyed with the idea of living in Spain, or even Italy, but not at the risk of potentially losing money through foreign taxation. Florida might be nice though…

        Whatever you decide on, I wish you both the very best of luck. Hopefully France will always be a home from for you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        August 8, 2017
      • We have little place that we bought as a Maison Secondaire in France some years ago so there will always be that (if we ever finish the endless renovation 🙄) wherever we finally land. And as I say to the children often ‘all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’ …. good old Sister Julian of Norwich – I believe her 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        August 9, 2017
  12. Gorgeous photos of the moss and flowers. The yellow flowers caught my eye

    Liked by 1 person

    August 10, 2017

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