The Shepherd’s Mantra

I hesitated to say it before thinking that perhaps I was being deceived by a late January winter thaw but, no, Spring has arrived. I have been ensconced in this corner of Provence since September, not the gentle, sybaritic Provence of the Côte d’Azur and Avignon, but Haute Provence, a rude and wild country, where the dark alpine hills stream like a school of humpback whales toward the distant shores of the Mediterranean and sheep and lavender share the land. The wind is fierce, the people few, the soil stony. I was quickly snared by the region's stark enchantment.