My tongue trips over the next few letters like a sing-song kindergarten rhyme… Armagnac, Boudin, Community, Daguin, Foie gras, then lands like a frozen snowball in La Gascogne Givrée. What began as a handful of cold and crisp clear days has turned my long village, the Garonne River Valley, into a 357 mile long frozen food section. In the potager, full-leafed Savoy cabbage are translucent with cold, asparagus fronds are ice shrouded, and last year’s fennel left standing are delicate ice sculptures and rosemary lollipops decorate the dormant patch.
The ups and downs of growing food reflect the weather—some years the Garonne jumps her bed a half-dozen times or more, flooding the valley and delivering precious fertile silt; this year we are still in drought conditions six months after summer’s too hot heat. Our normal ‘gloomy Gascony’ winter, mild daytime temperatures and year round natural watering, has given way to a dry and cold stranglehold. In the sixteen years of playing house at Camont, I have never seen the landscape painted hoar frost white.
My sweet Gascony lies cradled in the arms of the north-flowing Garonne River and spills down toward the Pyrenees and the Basque countries. This fabled land of milk and honey, fertile, abundant water threaded by many rivers and springs, and mild temperatures has gone into hiding. France’s year-round potager now lies hidden under a winter blanket of ice lace crystals. Whereas ‘G’ will always be for Gascony, today ‘G’ is for la Gascogne givrée, glacée and gelée.
This pigeon didn't fly south.