An American Provence by Thomas P. Huber

By Thomas P. Huber

I've got spoke of luscious wines and succulent fruit and delightful dinners. yet there is not more evocative adventure of the 2 valleys than the odor of new-mown hay within the fields at nightfall. If anyone have been to shut their eyes, they can now not inform in the event that they have been in Provence or the North Fork Valley. That candy, earthy smell is a part of the wonderful thing about those areas.

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But the rock it came from is certainly beautiful and eye-catching. One day Carole and I made a short excursion to the area near Rustrel, the location of a geologic park called le Colorado Provençal—the name certainly got our attention. It turned out that this was a miniature version of a famous park in Colorado Limestone quarry seen looking southwest from the village of Ménerbes. 41 The Land Springs, the Garden of the Gods. There were vibrantly hued red rock chimneys (called monuments in western Colorado), cliffs, and, in very graphic French, mamelons (nipples).

The Provençal waterway that mimics this Colorado river has two names, neither of which I have been able to determine as official. East of the market town of Apt, it rises from the eastern end of the Monts de Vaucluse as le Calavan Rivière. After it flows through Apt, the local name changes to le Coulon Rivière. This might be a subtle indication of how the French (and rural Americans) view their landscapes as locally owned and not coopted by the central government mapping agencies. One might not even notice the Coulon in midsummer because there is so little water in it.

Although families have farmed the North Fork Valley for generations, I still see this landscape as a quickly adapting adolescent trying to figure out what it wants to do when it grows up. The Provençal landscape, however, changes just rapidly enough to remain interesting. There are places, for example, where old vines have withered and died from lack of attention, poor land for vineyards, or poor viticultural practices. Other fields have been planted only recently amid cherry trees or apricot groves.

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