staying inside and thinking about french olive farming…

February 8, 2012

It’s cold down here… I mean really cold… like -14 with the wind chill cold… and that, for me, is cold. I have come to learn that Provence is cold in the winter, but this cold… I don’t remember this… It is far too cold to snow… such a shame… no pretty pictures to show you… and much is frozen… not only me… The canal that runs through our property is frozen solid, our swimming pool is like a skating rink and the old bassins dotted around the property are rock solid… There has been a mighty mistral blowing for several days now… winds of 100km+ per hour… whipping everything and everyone into a frenzy… In Provence they say that the mistral can drive you crazy… now, I understand… it is relentless and unforgiving… and tiresome. I have learnt how to deal with the mistral… I stay inside… and only do the barest minimum outside… everything that can wait… waits… until the wind stops…

There is a comfort to being forced inside… Normally I can’t sit still… there are so many farming jobs to arrange and oversee, promenades to be made and new projects to be thought of. This week has been different… I have had time to read, to write and to think about the world of olive farming. Winter is the time to plan for the olives, to decide the way forward… whether to prune, when to feed and in general what their needs are. Olives, despite what you might think, are needy. Like all fruit trees, the more love, care and attention they receive the better they bloom and flourish… In writing those few words I can see that we aren’t much different… love, care and attention… we all need generous dollops of those ingredients…

So I have thought about our olives at length and I am starting our farming year with high hopes of a successful yield. Last year was disappointing, there were few olives in my part of Provence and the harvest was a mere half of what I have come to expect. But expectations are just that and olives like any form of agriculture never follow the rules… they surprise you… and not always in the way you want. I am not holding that against our trees… we all need a rest from time to time… but I am going to nurture them extra carefully this year… and as Valentines day is approaching… perhaps I should start to whisper ‘sweet nothings’ in their ears… it can’t hurt… xv


image -vicki archer
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35 Comments

  • Julienne says:

    They are now talking about earth cooling instead of heating…I find this more believable with your winter and our NOT summer!!!!!!!

  • I'll send Russell Brand over Vicki ….. he will charm those olives into submission and charm you at the same time !!!! haha
    You really do work hard Vicki …. I always feel a little lazy when I hear of all the things that you do.
    Sending olive growing vibes over to France!! XXXX

  • Oh that is cold, cold, cold, Vicki. So hard to imagine that the same pool which is currently frozen solid, will be splashing and splishing in summer temperatures warm enough for swimming. Can't get my head around such extremes. But yes, being forced to shelter does have its own merits – time to be cosy, and time to reflect, as you say.

  • Yes, I agree Vicki–if it works with plants than why not olive trees? As long as you whisper in French of course.
    Yesterday was quite something wasn't it? I only left the house to take Ben on his walks. The place in front of St. Trophime was cordonned off as the Mistral had thrown about some of the churches roof tiles–very dangerous!
    Last night it was still too cold in the bedroom but both of us were too lazy to get the stepladder out to reach the linen closet, so my honey brought in each of our big terry robes to lay on top of the duvet! Worked like a charm.
    Stay warm and I hope that your pipes are don't freeze,
    Heather

  • Hi Vicki

    Continue to be careful. I find weather such as you are experiencing to sometimes be a welcome, it slows us down and allows planning. Wishing you an abundant olive harvest
    Helen xx

  • Tibs says:

    The picture is so gorgeous!
    Not extremely cold in Budapest, but still it is cold enough to stay inside.

    Greetings from
    Tibs

  • I can just see you enjoying a cozy fire and contemplating the farming. Quel belle vie! Thanks for brining us home with you for a bit of just how pretty winter can be if you have the right perspective!

  • Karena says:

    The Glaciers are still melting away though. We have had a very mild winter here in Kansas City this year (so far)

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • Marie Wreath says:

    Oh my goodness…what a lovely sentiment, that we need the same nurturing that the olives do, or vice versa. Our tomatoes suffered badly last year with an extreme drought and heat wave (really EVERYTHING suffered), and as I described moving them closer to the house and also closer together, showering them with water, attention, and shelter, etc, a friend observed that we need the same stuff… proximity to others, shelter, nourishment… xo

    We're planning gardens in Oklahoma too. Best wishes with your harvest this year. And enjoy the unpredictable adventure.

  • Karen in CT says:

    … can't be all bad as long as you are warm … I have never been able to vision Provence being that cold … great photo.

  • Hope you have a most stylish Canadian trapper hat Vicki and I am sure those olives will do whatever you ask of them. Bundle up! It has turned quite cold here as well………and that is what I get for going on about our spring like weather. Much love XO

  • Mary says:

    Gosh, you really are having a cold spell and that blustery old Mistral wind is working overtime by sound of it! Staying inside, in the warmth of the house, planning for the olives and writing your thoughts (or a new book perhaps?) is certainly the place to be.

    Snuggle up dear – Spring will arrive in Provence before too long, then you'll be outside and very busy nurturing those awesome old trees.
    Hugs – Mary

  • I Dream Of says:

    Vicki, I can imagine you braving the mistral to go out to wander among you olive trees and whisper sweet nothings to them ahead of Valentine's Day. You musings are lovely, and–sweet nothings aside–it's so interesting to hear the non-romantic things about farming olives in Provence. I hope that you are staying warm and enjoying your quiet time. And that you are rewarded with abundance this year! XO

  • I'm sure you are counting down the days until spring arrives. Keep warm, relax and enjoy every second of your 'down time' …

    All the best,
    Katie
    http://www.westiejulep.blogspot.com

  • Hello Vicky,

    It's so cold here too, but I'm in Canada. :-) You expect that at this time of the year.

    I'd like to thank you for stopping by the other day. I'm not having much time for visiting my friend's blogs because I gave birth to my baby not too long ago and life is really busy 3 kids now. :-)

    Wishing a great day!

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  • A message from the baby olive tree on my desk to all his relatives, in your gardens: "Courage, courage! Winter will be over soon. The sun and warmth will return. Send some my way when it does." ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  • Hallie says:

    In NY-NJ (I'm in NJ) we are having what one could call "a balmy winter" with temperatures in the 40's and reaching 50! I 'm alarmed by the extreme change from last year but I can't say I miss the freezing rain and snow, and the day after snow which gets dirty and oh so dreary.
    Lovely sentiments about nurturing plants. Last night I was looking at berry bushes and thinking that I'll move the lavender close to the boxwoods along the center of the driveway and fill in with berry bushes. Somehow I'll find a way…the lavenders like it dry and the berries like it wet. I was dreaming too of ranunculus which I've never grown and violas!
    Stay warm Vicki! I was shocked at the temperatures you reported.

  • everyones really talking act the cold this winter…its so chilly i agree with you… :) following u on GFC>..i love what you cover..follow back :)) have a nice day..do drop by my blog. would love to hear from you!

    xoxo hanz
    fashionistaera.blogspot.com

  • Palomasea says:

    Stay warm and cozy, chere Vicky!
    Hoping for a good harvest when the time comes…those sweet nothings are sure to help:)
    xoxo,
    - Irina

  • Sweet Freak says:

    Vicki, how many people in the world would/get to say that they're thinking about and planning for the olives?? You are trop cool!

  • I have just found your site and am so pleased! I am coming to Paris in May for the first time and your site will give me such good advice and inspiration!
    Lorraine

  • Karen says:

    Vicki,
    I think it's wise of you to stay indoors and enjoy the free time…I often wish we'd get more severe weather so that I'd have a good excuse to stay in and read, write and relax. When the weather is mild I tend to want to be in the garden. Hope your weather warms soon and you will have time to chat with your olive trees…I think they'd respond to sweet nothings. :-)
    Karen

  • Laura says:

    Enjoyed your thoughts and sentiments on this winter day. As you expressed, the mistral can be unsettling, but you seem to be coping and putting this time to good use. It was also interesting to learn a little about olive trees from an agricultural aspect. Sounds like there is a lot of preparation before the actual season begins.

  • That is very cold!Anything below 50 degrees in Southern CA is really cold. Stay safe + warm. Sweet little phrases to those olive trees-they will adore your attention. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  • French Heart says:

    That's amazing that water is frozen solid in Provence. My son says it is also incredibly cold in Amsterdam. Maybe play some Leonard Cohen for the olives ;) Beautiful pix!

  • Your cold sounds extemely cold by anyones standards..ouch! So cold it hurts! We on the other hand have had an unusually mild winter with little snow which has me bummed a bit, I cannot believe the crazy weather so much of Europe is having this year. CRAZY!
    I cannot imagine anything more satisfying then picking your own olives, yum! I love olives, and would love to grow grapes, olives and figs. I would be one happy camper. I would love to hear more about the harvesting and growing of olives. Will this weather so extreme have a big effect on your yield? Best of luck, and do hope it warms up soon!

  • Bonnie says:

    Your description of the mistral sounds like a scary night with the winds howling and trees snapping during a tropical storm we experienced. I am glad you have received comfort from being forced to stay inside and have time to think, read and plan.

    I almost hate to tell you how mild our weather is in southern Alabama. Actually, spring flowers are now blooming, however, many are at least one month early. The weather is strange. Today, it was in the 60's sunny and beautiful. I worked in my garden and it was glorious. I posted some harbingers of spring a week or so ago. Hopefully, it might brighten your day looking and dreaming of spring. April in Provence was so lovely last year while we visited.

  • kate says:

    I say Bake, bake and bake somemore. Thats what I do when this winter wind blows
    in…great therapy and when your done you have lots to enjoy!!
    kate

  • Anonymous says:

    Could you set up a mic and speaker system from your house facing the olive trees and allow the mistral to whisk your voice around the trees. Voilà trees are given their pep talk while you stay warm inside! Sylvia

  • I love imagining you whispering sweet nothings to your olives! It can't hurt. I so understand being weary of cold and wind. Spring is so far away here still, and yet, the days are longer, so this gives me just enough hope. Stay warm and cozy until the thaw, Vicki! xo Gigi

  • Millie says:

    I feel a literary masterpiece coming on here Vicki while you're trapped inside the Mas. And as a little bird tells me Russell B. may be on his way, get writing before that VERY naughty boy arrives & acts as a massive distraction. And I can presume by your comments re low yields, that a box of French Esseence Olive Oil won't be arriving on our doorstep any time soon.
    Millie xx

  • Karen T. says:

    What a great time to cocoon. Wonderful photo! Is it possible here in the States to buy olive oil from your trees?

  • Vicki-
    I love cold weather, but not that cold! I bet you are freezing.
    Love reading your thoughts on the trees. Maybe this cold will bear a huge crop this year and there will be cream cheese and olive tea sandwiches on every table. Well, that would be my dream.
    Stay warm and enjoy your time off.
    Teresa
    xoxo

  • Sometimes it is a blessing in disguise to have to stay inside and take time to relax a bit, enjoy a cozy fire and read and plan for spring. I have been hearing on the news about the freezing weather that has gripped all of Europe. I will hope and send good vibes that somehow this will yield abundant crops in the spring and summer. I am always amazed at how hard you work and even a day when you could be totally relaxing you are indeed concerned and planning for your olive trees. You are always an inspiration. Bundle up and stay warm.

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