It's that time of year again: with the advent of summer, thousands of Cevenol sheep, goats, herders and their working dogs have made the trek toward the cooler mountain meadows and plateaux. This annual migration is called the transhumance. The migrations have taken place since Roman times, as noted by Pliny the Elder and corroborated by recent archeological finds. Today, the ageless traditions continue--the head ewes get the fanciest bells, and all the sheep are marked with each family's symbol, using a colorful dye. They walk for days, winding through the countryside slowly upward. They make their clanging, steady way through small villages, where the women stand watching in the doorways, broom at the ready to prevent any nibbling of their roses. In some places, it becomes a full-scale party, and a chance to celebrate the old pastoral ways. (The photos above are courtesy of http://www.transhumance.org/).Some of the herders lead their animals past my gate, as you can see in the photo above, which I took last year.Using wool from local sheep, the kids made a felt wine cooler for Father's Day (we've got some leeway, as he's only due back later in the week). You can see an armful of shorn, 'raw' wool in the photo above. It's even softer than it looks......and here's Daddy's gift for being Daddy. Pretty nifty, don't you think?
We're also busy harvesting the raspberries and black currants. Some berries are macerating in sugar overnight, and will soon be converted to jam and slathered across warm bread, or swirled into a bowl of homemade yogurt.
There is such a bumper crop of black currant that I will once again make some liqueur, or crème de cassis. I have discovered that beyond the classic kirs and other cocktails, it makes a sumptuous flavoring agent for sorbets, cakes and dessert sauces.