I can’t wait for a fresh start after the disastrous 2016!
We finally have some Spring in Paris with these Anemones (daughter of the wind)…
“The anemone is one of the earliest flowers in spring, appearing in April, and continuing through May. The name, anemone, or wind-flower, some writers claim, was given because it is so fragile that it withers when the wind blows over it; others say that it only blooms when the wind blows it open.”
I took the train from Paris to Zurich a couple of weeks ago and here are the things I saw; the ride is fabulous especially when it snows:
I arrived at the main Bahnhof,
And thinking about my dad who loves the famous veal sausages (Bratwurst), I had one before heading to my hotel:
The view from my hotel room was magic at dusk thanks to the snow:
I had a huge smile staring out the window the next day:
After two days I headed back to Paris but not before relishing the site of the divine Sprungli cakes; you gain weight just looking at them!
My favorite is this Vermicelles cake. “In Switzerland, chestnuts are used in a variety of desserts, most commonly in a dessert called Vermicelles where the chestnuts are sweetened in a purée and then pushed through a ricer or similar instrument to produce delicious “noodles” which can be eaten as is or as a decoration on top of cakes. Vermicelles are most commonly served atop some whipped cream with some crushed meringues for added sweetness and texture, a dessert sometimes referred to as Mont Blanc outside of Switzerland”:
The train ride back was as beautiful:
I came back and guess who was waiting for me in Paris?
Happy Holidays Everybody!
I’ve been to the Loire Valley in France a few times but never seen anything like the Château de Villandry’s magnificent gardens!
I would like to share this with my friends so let’s start: the Loire region is a few hours from Paris and the roads are bordered by poppies in May/June:
herbs and vegetables and of course fruits:
Yesterday was the universal Labor Day, May first, and the day that France celebrate with “Muguet”, tons of it!
This is a flower I love and it’s hard to find in the U.S.
Not only all the flower shops are offering them but there are literally one Lily of the Valley stand at every corner of every street!
“Je porte Bonheur” means “I bring happiness” and this is what this flower is supposed to do for the recipient.
I have a preference for fragrant flowers and Lily of the valley is a tiny flower that perfumes the whole room! The flower is also known as Our Lady’s tears, since, according to Christian legend, the lily of the valley came into being from Eve’s tears after she was driven with Adam from the Garden of Eden,although this seems unlikely, since in Catholic parlance, “Our Lady” refers to the Virgin Mary. Another Christian legend states that Mary’s tears turned to lily of the valley when she cried at the crucifixion of Jesus, and because of this it is also known as Mary’s tears.
Some of the florists are mixing them with roses (above and below):
but I love them by themselves, pure, white, fragrant and unassuming…
Other names include May lily, May bells, lily constancy, ladder-to-heaven, male lily, and muguet (French).
“Sweetest of the flowers a-blooming
In the fragrant vernal days
Is the Lily of the Valley
With its soft, retiring ways.”
“Like the Lily of the Valley
In her honesty and worth,
Ah, she blooms in truth and virtue
In the quiet nooks of earth.” Paul Laurence Dunbar
I love this picture, the talented Marie Ancolie Romanet, sent me yesterday…exquisite!
Nature can be kind even though it has not been so in the last few days in Japan…I went out to park Montsouris, close to my apartment in Paris to take some pictures from the gentler side of Nature.
Everything was so beautiful I almost forgot the Japanese meltdown (nuclear and else…) for a few minutes; the purple crocus made me nostalgic:
I was born in Khorasan, the world’s most important saffron producing region, and the yellow pistils of this modest bulb flower is what becomes the most expensive spice in the world: zaferan or saffron.
Now back to the park where the most flamboyant were the primaveras (primulas):
I ask the eternal question: is anything more effortlessly beautiful than a flower?
I have to wait for the tulips to come out one of these days:
nature weaves beautiful rugs:
The pink blossoms over a stream were so pretty:
This one was earlier today at Saint Germain:
but right outside my place, the pansies were going crazy:
I took the picture with a big smile on my face—I love pansies—and later today I made this dress out of these gorgeous flowers:
To see my previous posts about the persian New Year and to see some beautiful poetry:
Last year’s Green Nowruz go here
Nowruz 1388 go here
Haft seen, haft sheen and everything in between go here
“Pourquoi les hommes ne savent-ils pas
Que la capucine n’est pas un hasard…” Sepehri
HAPPY NEW YEAR, NOWRUZ PIROUZ!
I wished I were with both my mother and my son today but I am alone, somewhere in Europe between Los Angeles and Tehran…
I would have offered my mother some lilacs and a fabulous view,
and walked with her under the ubiquitous wisterias and admired all the pansies.
We love our mothers for all the stories they told us when we were children,
all the books they read to us,
food (tahdig) they’ve made us:
let’s not forget the clothes,
and things they kept from the time we were babies,
I would have loved to share a meal with my mother and my son today,
or at least a cup of tea.
I would have offered her a perfume with the scent of spring flowers,
and bought her a hat,
because mothers have to wear different hats in bringing up their children!
We love them and should let them know; as I am sitting in front of my computer, I dedicate this post to my mother and yours,
because they have loved us with all their might…
Happy mother’s day.
A most peculiar wine is produced here that has not much to do with the red Bordeaux wines that we all know (red or white). Sauternes is made from grapes that have been affected by a gray fungus, Botrytis Cinerea, which causes the grapes to shrivel, leaving a sugary fruit with concentrated flavors resulting in distinctively flavored wines.
I had heard about the Noble Rot (an oxymoron of a name) but I was still amazed to see these grapes on the vine stocks:The grapes are definitely getting ripe here, all semi rotten! The best Sauternes come from vines that have been hand-picked—up to 12 separate times—to ensure that the grapes are not removed from the vines before reaching the perfect degree of ripeness required for these wines.The eminent Château d’Yqem, the most expensive Sauternes wine, is the only estate in France who has received a class of its own, one step above Premier Crus. Each grape is picked individually, and only when it is rotten enough. Thanks to the noble rot and a lot of hard work, the result is an exquisitely flavored wine that is acidic enough to avoid falling into the trap of being a mere dessert wine.
The Sauternes region is located 40 km (25 miles) southeast of the city of Bordeaux along the Garonne river and its tributary, the Ciron, which demarcates Barsac (Orange on the map) and Sauternes (yellow on the map). Barsac lies within Sauternes, and is entitled to use either name. Somewhat similar but less expensive and typically less-distinguished wines are produced in the neighboring regions of Monbazillac (which I tasted a couple of years ago when visiting Bergerac) , Cérons, Loupiac and Cadillac (not the car)!
The moisture the Ciron brings, and the morning mists it causes, are favorable to the development of the fungus Botrytis cinereangus. This contributes to the high quality and renown of Sauternes wines.My guide explained that vines produce one to two bottles of wine everywhere else, but in Sauternes, you can only get one to two glasses per year! No wonder this wine is so revered (and expensive)…
Not having money to burn, I only bought some of the more modest bottles after the tasting:
Of course, there are myriads of labels to choose from:like these bottles with ample and intense golden liquid inside…You wonder how on earth with amazing wines like these in the region,some of the locals drink coffee…
My other post about wine:
A night with some dry drunk Persians here
The Persian new year, called Norouz (or Nowrouz)—New Day—is just around the corner and Southern California nights have the sweetly fragrant scent of jasmine and citrus flowers. Last year’s Norouz blog remains my most read post so please visit it for a detailed account of Haft-seen and some great pictures.
Tulips don’t know much about the financial crisis and narcissi couldn’t care less about job layoffs; they come out with their effortless beauty, reminding us that nature renews its vows with life every spring.
Before 1564, most of Europe celebrated the New Year with the first day of Spring.
The Gregorian calendar changed that to January first. To me, it is only natural to start the year with the first day of spring and not in the dead of winter…
“Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturb’d,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself, for my own ears only,
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities! Walt Witman
The Norouz celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism. March 21st will be the first day of spring, the first day of the new year. The fragrance of these lemon tree blossoms reminds me of a Norouz I spent in Shiraz years ago…
This poem of Fereydoon Moshiri always makes me smile…
بوی باران، بوی سبزه، بوی خاک
شاخه های شسته، باران خورده، پاک
آسمان آبی و ابر سپید
برگ های سبز بید
عطر نرگس، رقص باد
نغمه شوق پرستوهای شاد
خلوت گرم کبوترهای مست …
نرم نرمک می رسد اینک بهار
خوش به حال روزگار
خوش به حال چشمه ها و دشت ها
خوش به حال دانه ها و سبزه ها
خوش به حال غنچه های نیمه باز
خوش به حال دختر میخک – که می خندد به ناز –
خوش به حال جام لبریز از شراب
خوش به حال آفتاب
Would it be the dawn of 1388 or 2547 like some purist Persians suggest? It’s surreal to see this anachronistic image of the late shah’s crown in the middle of Santa Monica boulevard wishing you a happy new year in Persian!
I just can not resist sharing these beautiful flowers with you:
This is a celebration of Life.
It is time to recalibrate our priorities and do some spring cleaning. Just look at the beautiful baby green of this Hydrangea:
The hyacinths (sonbol) or the quintessential Norouz flower:
I wouldn’t dare translating this beautiful Rumi poem about Norouz:
اندر دل من مها دل افروز توئي
ياران هستند ليك دلسوز توئي
شادند جهانيان به نوروز و به عيد
عيد من و نوروز من امروز توئي
Don’t forget to visit my last year’s Norouz post.
Southern California fires are pretty democratic, they hit the mansions and trailer parks and everything in between with the same cruelty… The current definition of a Californian is still “did or did not escape the fires?”
“Devil winds, hill-hopping infernos, smoked mansions, torched trailers, barren freeways, and brilliant sunsets lingering in low-hanging canopies of burnt dreams.” That’s how Steve Lopez describes all hell breaking loose in California.
Last year in october I wrote:”wildfires, burning out of control, are continuing to threaten thousands of homes in California. You can’t help but to have this incredible sense of the fragility of everything. As human beings we are wired to think that everything will stay the way it is, safe from sudden and intense changes…” My childhood home burnt down in 1970—my barbie collection got charred along with the rest of the house…
Palm trees help spread fire—I’ve never liked them much—to see an amazing photo essay click here.
It’s amazing how fire spares a house or two in the middle of a whole burnt neighborhood—my friend’s house in Anaheim hills stayed intact when his neighbor’s got completely destroyed; his daughter, Kimiya, has sent me these pictures of their street:
and this one:
The chimneys are the only things standing in most burnt houses.
To watch a powerful clip from BBC, click here.
“Often it takes some calamity to make us live in the present.” Bill Watterson