But don't blink . . .

posted 25 January 2005

. . . or you'll miss it.

By the time I got down the stairs, across the courtyard, up the stairs to David's office for the camera, back down, across the "aquarium hall" to the little widowless microscopy lab to tell Laurence and David, and back out to the courtyard, the snow had turned to rain again. While we watched, it briefly changed to half rain and half snow, then stopped altogether. So I didn't get a picture, but this morning on the way to the lab we passed several patches of snow in the road that had fallen off cars coming in from higher ground, and one car parked on the street in Villefranche still had a good four-inch layer on its roof.

Mimosa twigIt's always dark already by the time we leave the lab in the evening, and walking into Beaulieu after work on these frosty nights isn't as appealing, so our exercise is a little limited this week, but it should warm up again soon. Even in this weather, though, the vaunted mimosas of southern France are coming into bloom everywhere, first on the sunniest slopes, then progressively in the less favored sites. These are not the pink mimosas we have in Tallahassee (which are known to the rest of the world as "silk trees" or "albizzias") but yellow-flowered trees in the genus Acacia. Each flower is a little spherical bright-yellow fuzz-ball about the size of a pea, but the clusters--often a foot long and eight inches across--consist of hundreds of flowers and cover the trees with showers of sunny yellow in late January and February. They're fragrance is described as "intoxicating" (they're widely used in the perfume industry, the world capital of which is in nearby Grasse), and they're are much beloved by the French--so much so that florists do a lively business at this time of year shipping big bouquets of the flowers to people who live farther north.

I got the slightly fuzzy photo shown above off someone else's website.

Update, 11 March 2005

Mimosa treeHere's a photo of our own, taken a couple of weeks ago, of a small mimosa tree that we pass each morning walking from the car to the lab. It's growing on a terrace maybe 20 feet above the street we walk on.

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