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An Introduction

It happened on the morning of May the 13th, 1980. Although the sun was still shining on the other side of the Earth, I opened my eyes. Unbothered by the bright light of the hospital room, I carefully listened to my mother say: "Oh, it's true, you are not the prettiest baby here... but how funny you are"; and I smiled for the first time. From that day on, I knew my life would be wonderful... err... well, I was mistaking; but let kids have their own dreams! After all, I was lucky to be called by a name everybody would recognize; my sisters Arielle and YaŽlle weren't so.

What a paradise I grew in. Provence, in southern France, is a heavenly place, maybe the one I talk about in Sibylline, filled with wonders of all kinds. And I am talking about Nature, of course. Among my favourites, the sounds, the sight, and the odours.

Various kinds of birds used to wake us up, at times early in the morning, at others when the sun rose. Ah, how we all hated that mad rooster and his unset sense of time, singing under a full moon. Nonetheless, cicadas would compensate and fill our days with an unceasing chant that could seem hammering to the unfamiliar. But even the novice would be pleased by the harmony of it all. A few times a day, passers-by would walk on the trail across the little wadi and horses would clap their hooves against the dry rocks, while a bough of crows ate our black cherries.

Idyllic, but everyday life for me, the sight had no cause to be jealous of the phonic atmosphere. What a landscape we lived in; many of the locals called it the most beautiful of the region, and some had seen many places... We trustfully confined ourselves in this idea and enjoyed every bit of sunlight we would be given. Located at the foot of the Alpilles, a little chain of short mountains, our house was embraced by forests of pines, cypresses and almond trees. Here and there, several vines and a few cherry, apricot, and olive trees would grow to add a little touch of diversity. As for the ground: mostly clay covered by little rocks and scattered pine needles that would burn under the intense dry heat of our summer days.

The sun would roast most of the plants dispersed on the ground, sucking up their essence right into the air. It is amazing to think of how richly all these flavours melted together in the heat. Thyme, rosemary, and lavender remained on the lower level, while evaporated pine essence covered the top of the air we breathed. Everywhere you went, the smell of the least of the flowers would explode, offering everything it had for us to taste; roses, brooms, even the dried grasses and wild flowers. Unforgettable senses, memorable flavours, forever in my mind.

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