When we think of Provence, we always seem to think of that special and unique area in the southeast of France that lies between the Alps and the Mediterranean. We think of charming, rustic villas dotting the hillsides and those ever so famous vineyards that produce so many bottles of delicious still and sparkling wines. We also envision those seemingly endless fields of lavender that stretch over those rolling fields that tenderly embraced the summer with their purple, lavender and pink flowering bushes. To me, it sparked ancient memories of childhood when we sniffed Grandmother’s delicious soaps and little stitched packets of lavender buds she had kept in her top drawer. She would tell me stories of that land so far away and where these soaps and little sachets traveled from. What wonderful trips I would take in my imagination of childhood dreaming of the magical places she described.
But, now, for me, it will always make me think of the Provence of America. This is an area where dozens of farm owners have planted their fields with the many varieties of lavender and about the devoted farmers who are passionate about growing these heavenly bushes. This is a very unique area that lies at the northern edge of Washington state in a little town called Sequim. Being in the rain-shadow of the Olympic Mountains, it also borders on the Pacific Ocean. They only recieve about a dozen or so inches of rain annually which makes it very similar to Provence in the south of France. If you look out across the water, you will be able to see Victoria, BC in the distance. But if you come here, you will have come with the sole intent of visiting this charming little town.
It is not some place that you pass by on your way to somewhere else.
It will be your destination!
I recall the first time I came here to visit. I saw rolling farmlands in this lush valley that was bordered by the soaring Olympic Mountains to the south. It was a beautiful morning, for we had left Seattle early to make the best of our day. There was a mist hanging on the edges of those steep and craggy cliffs and the blue skies with billowy white clouds added to the natural beauty. There were charming painted murals on the sides of buildings and little road side stands selling hand-crafted items along with fresh fruits and vegetables. There were marinas and golf courses and so many Bed and Breakfast Inns to encourage you to come and stay for a while, not to mention signs directing you to come and get your own freshly caught native Dungeness Crabs or freshly dug clams. One really has the sense that there is so much to experience here and how did it take so long to discover this lovely little town.
Grabbing a Latte at the coffee house, we headed out for a visit of our first lavender farm. I will never forget the complete amazement as I stepped out of the car and the fragrance that drifted on the air. Gentle and sweet and sublime… I was amazed. I had no idea the effect it would have on me. This peacefulness enveloped me and I walked as if on air. Lavender bushes of many varieties were planted along with rose bushes and climbing vines. There was a farmhouse for rent for a night or a week and of course we walked through and thought what a great place to invite the family for a reunion. We walked in the gardens and saved the gift shop for last, but not without lingering long enough to indulge in a small cup of lavender and white chocolate ice cream. Whatever your favorite ice cream is, this one will quickly take it’s place for the flavor is simply beyond your imagination.
I think currently there are about 30 Lavender Farms to visit, but if you are here for only a day, you will not be able to visit them all. Every one of them is unique in it’s own way and each year when you return, you will see the changes and improvements that have happened since your last visit. You are encouraged to harvest your own bundles of lavender to take home with you. Some of the farms have restaurants and/or gift shops with a vast variety of items that are lavender related. Many have potted lavender plants for you to purchase and take home and plant in your own garden. All of the farms are delightful to see and as you leave you will wonder if you have seen everything there is to see. Each farm stays on my list of places I simply must visit the next time I am back. When you do leave Sequim, the Provence of America, you will also be promising yourself a return visit. Or maybe even the thought will come to you that this is a place you want to move to and spend the rest of your days.
I know it is for me…
By Marjorie Wallace
Story Featured in WELCOME TO WASHINGTON (the state) ~ 01 November 2009
Sequim, Washington. The Provence of America
More than 259 views or reads…