Saturday, February 21, 2009
At home Mimosa meant an orange juice heartily fortified with sparkling wine, usually drank to ready oneself for a long day of celebrating--Thanksgiving or Christmas. In the south of France, Mimosa is a flower that illuminates winter. This plant, which grows into substantial trees, was imported from Australia in the 1800's by wealthy English who settled themselves on the Côte d'Azur. It has adapted well to the dry and sunny Mediterranean climate. Villages and towns celebrate the blooming, which seems to peak in February. It is used in perfume; the scent is mild and pleasant. In Menton the Mimosa was a close second to the lemon, and it's the exact same color. The sprays of puffy yellow flowers, are unfortunately short lived once cut. Branches that are brought indoors begin with puffy clusters of tiny suns that progress to tight globular balls within a day. Like forsythias, green branches not yet in bloom can be forced. There is a route du mimosa stretching 130 km, starting at Bormes-les-Mimosas and ending in Grasse.
As my friends and I discuss our spring fever and our impatient waiting for warmth and continuous sunshine they also tell me that many people have allergies to mimosa, as they emit a very fine pollen. I think I am one of those, but I'm treating it locally --honey and a dab of Chartreuse!