Back to Bramasole
June 17th, 2010
Returning to Bramasole, we found the garden in full frisson. This is an especially good year for roses, after all the downpours of May. The Edens on the herb terrace wall decided to run rampant and they are a joy. Sally Holmes I always refer to as a cheerleader and this year she’s doing the twist and shout. I love the full-bouquet blooms—a bride could not do better than three stems of these and a few ribbons. From the third floor, I can smell jasmine, the yellow ginestre (broom) on the hills, lemon and orange blossoms, and the roses. Soon the lavender will join the fray. Already white and blue butterflies are dancing around the hedges, waiting for the blooms. Here’s Sally with her apricot buds and pale pink-to-white flowers:
At this time of year the sun hits our house at five a.m. and for a half hour before, all the birds are awake and singing their matins. I can’t sleep because of their divine racket and find myself editing recipes at dawn. This morning I was in the garden at six, deadheading roses and pulling weeds out of the stone terrace walls. My sunflowers are ankle high; this time next week they will double. Bramasole’s herb terrace:
I wanted to write from the cruise but the Internet was spotty on the high seas and when we were in ports, we were out walking all day. I loved going back to Lerici and was about to write about it as a “hidden” place but Ed just told me there’s a recent article and a slide show about it in The New York Times. So much for hidden. http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/06/14/travel/20100620Lerici.html
The last stops: Nice, Marseille, Barcelona. Of these, Marseille was my favorite. Nice is just too choked with traffic. Barcelona, dreamy name, is a place I’ve never warmed to and I’m not sure why. In Spain, I’ve much preferred Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba. Walking down Las Ramblas in the rain was romantic and the market lured us until we had to sail away.
M.F. K. Fisher was right. Marseille is a considerable town. A day there is way short, but it was lovely to walk around the U-shaped port, so full of working boats, pleasure boats, service boats. A long lunch looking out over that lively scene was a highlight of the trip. We ate at Mirador, a lucky guess. My shellfish gratin:
Afterwards, we just walked and walked, marveling at all the gypsies dressed like your idea of gypsies, the Africans in their fabulous colorful fabrics, and taking in the handsome buildings.
We met many, many great people on the Corinthian II. The historian Lamar Cecil, the art historian from The Art Institute of Chicago Margaret Farr, and the three musicians Amy Cofield Williamson, Scott Williamson, and Scott Beard all enriched our days on board. The food was really good and not at all overwhelming, and we were lucky that the sea remained calm. During one of my lectures, there were a few rolls and I had to brace myself by holding on to the podium.
We’re home. Happy to be back with the flowers and birds. I can’t tear myself away from the novel Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, so Ed worked in the garden then roasted a chicken with some potatoes and made a zucchini gratin. When I finally came down to dinner, it was eight o’clock and a soft light suffused the garden and sky. Tiepolo would have hauled out his brushes. Jasmine is narcotizing!