Colors Of Provence II: Market Time!

by Becky on July 2, 2013 · 7 comments

in Travel

Better lavender_0623

Usually, heading to the market means: a hasty list scribbled on a post-it note. And a typical list might read: toothpaste, bagels, shoelaces for Goose’s Converse. And when it comes time to refer to the post-it note, I might realize: Oh, left it at home (which means it’s lost forever). And therefore a trip to the market becomes: guesswork.

But pretty much anywhere in Provence, heading out to the market requires absolutely no post-it note, and guesswork is of course welcome.

No one even minds that you talk to yourself, that you just continaully keep saying over and over, No!–you’re kidding me. (Like when the local macaroon maker insists you try the almond ones, then the pistachio, then the orange blossom . . .) Or that you are heard to exclaim, Oh . . . my! (Like when the endless stacks of Provencal linens frankly just defy understanding.) Or that, to whoever will listen, you insist, Smell-this-smell-this-smell-this! (Like when the fragrant, locally-made soaps make you positively silly.)


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Girls with soaps_4078




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During our trip to France, the Eleven O’Clock Dad and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. By marketing. I couldn’t imagine a grander way to ring in year twenty-six.

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Wind Flower

Image, Cicely Mary Barker, courtesy of

Some of you may wonder, Why Miss Lavender?  Why Miss Zinnia?  Why flower fairy names??

The practice grew out of a moment that occurred many years ago, when I was in a store one day and saw a framed print of one of Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies.  Enchanted by the image, I bought it and hung it on the wall in Miss Lavender’s room, certain that even though she was only a tiny thing, Miss Lavender was indeed a flower fairy.  Something about the faces of Barker’s fairies.  Study them!  You’ll spot the innocence right away, sure, but you’ll also notice flickers of other things:  cleverness, joy, even wisdom.  To me, flower fairies seem emblematic of the many kinds of Moments that comprise Being A Girl.

Sure, my older daughter looks like the Lavender Fairy.  I make a practice of choosing fairies who resemble the girls and women who bear their names.  And though my younger daughter has long outgrown the image of the Zinnia fairy (she looks more now like the Iris Fairy or maybe the Snowdrop), I swear the Zinnia fairy’s countenance still matches my daughter’s.

But it’s not just about resemblances.  Flowers themselves fascinate and inspire me.  Endlessly lovely and each with its own distinct energy and essence, flowers are considered by many to be a locus for all kinds of good things.  Lavender, for example, has tremendous healing properties.  Once, when my Miss Lavender was very small, her right arm and a few other patches of her little body were scalded by hot bathwater.  Terrible episode.  Beyond painful for her.  Beyond painful for me.  A wonderful sister-in-law told me about lavender oil and its uses for the skin, and we ordered the purest, best oil we could find and used it on Miss Lavender’s arm.  She and I both have a strong attachment to the smell of lavender as a result of experiencing the oil’s powerful effects.  It seemed to calm her even as it worked its dramatic flower magic on her burned skin, which (miraculously) never scarred.

I suppose it’s an unusual practice, giving every Eleven O’Clock Girl a flower fairy name.  But it works for me.  And those who have received their own name seem to have warmed both to the idea and to the fairy they are named for.  And as far as I’m concerned, Cicely Mary Barker was a peerless illustrator, don’t you agree?

(Which fairies do you warm to??)

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