And Then There Was … Lavender

Peacock in tree
Red and green
Thistle flower and passerby

There is an Indian connection to this story. One was born in India: Johanna. Her mother worked there: Chika. Her father worked there: Daniël. I worked there, together with Daniël. This was in the seventies and eighties. The one who is married to Johanna is Georg and they have a three-month old baby daughter named Hailey, who almost always smiles. Chika and Johanna, and I, hadn’t seen each other since 2010. They all came to Marseille, so we could reconnect.

Pink and purple
View of Vieux Port from Pharo park
Johanna and Chika observe the fish at Vieux Port

There is also a Thai, Malay and Dutch connection to this story. We had separately left India and one day we discovered that all of us were working in the same country – Thailand. Daniël and Chika in the north of it, I in the capital. We only met during new year celebrations in Bangkok. Sadly, Daniël passed away in 2003. Chika moved to Malaysia in 2010 and Johanna went to study in Middelburg, in the Netherlands.

A wood pigeon on a branch – Calanques of Marseille
Johanna and Georg with Hailey in the pram – Calanques of Marseille
Georg, Chika, and Johanna with Hailey
August, Johanna holding Hailey, and Georg in the Calanques – photo by Chika

Then we have our different nationalities. You can skip this part if you like 😉 Chika is Japanese and Daniël was German. Johanna is Japanese-German and works since her graduation in Munich where she met Georg who is German. I am Dutch and live in France since mid-2015. They found an airbnb in Marseille located near La Plage, The Beach, and enjoyed a seaview from their living room window and rooftop terrace. What fortuity.

View from Georg, Johanna and Chika’s airbnb roof terrace
Ready for dinner on the roof terrace
Magnolia flowers

Imagine travelling with a three-month old baby. The gods must have been with us or Hailey is just like that, being quiet during the most hectic moments, or even enjoying commotion. She likes it when the pram starts moving. She likes to look around and tries to make sense of the world around her. Most striking of all, she smiles. Wherever she is she smiles, to everyone.

Vieux Port viewed from Basilique Notre-Dame de la garde
Resting on the top terrace of the Basilique Notre-Dame de la garde
Soap of Marseille

Mid-June. That is the season of the Lavender in bloom. Lavender fields are not near Marseille. Not even near Aix en Provence, but from there you can reach the top Lavender-region of Valensole. In Aix, we were told that babies are not allowed in the tour van. Only Chika and I were fortunate to have this privilege to view some lavender fields in Valensole. A long trip, but once you get out of the car and experience the presence of a lavender field you just get carried away.

The wondrous presence of a blossoming Lavender field
Ladies in Lavender
Chika engulfed by Lavender
Chika in the midst of Lavender blooms
Lavender bushes

Walking between rows of Lavender is other-worldly. The scent penetrates your awareness. You can feel it is a healing force. You would rather spent more time in this presence than the short allotted time given by the tour. We were introduced to another purifying plant, the Immortal Flower.

A golden field of immortal flowers
Les Fleurs Immortelles
Taking a break from Lavender in Valensole town
A glimpse of Valensole town

That was great reconnecting. Chika called it a blessing. We all agreed. Georg and Johanna are set to keep travelling in Europe with Hailey so she will be a seasoned traveller before she realises it. Chika will visit her sister and friends in the United Kingdom before returning to Kuala Lumpur. I say, all I need is Marseille, the place and .. the magic that comes with it.

Johanna and Hailey
Boarding the train

All Photos Copyright © 2019-2022 August Timmermans – All Rights Reserved