Sunflowers and Vineyards


Sunflower © 2013 Mufidah Kassalias

We arrived in South West France to fields of bright yellow sunflowers — tournesols worshipping the sun with enthusiasm and energy to match their stature — and vineyards covering much of the land, stretching in cross-hatched patterns to each horizon.

A month later and the once-majestic sunflowers are now shadows of their vibrant summer selves: heads bowed, stems yellowed or brown, and many of their seeds plucked and eaten by birds. The grapes, of course, are growing more plump and juicy, continuing to ripen under the late September sun. Both are signs of the imminent harvest when sunflowers and grapes are cut by machine or hand and turned into oil and wine.

Gaillac Vineyard

Gaillac Vineyard © 2013 Mufidah Kassalias

Sean and I are house- and pet-sitting near Gaillac, a small market town in the Tarn département of the Midi-Pyrénées. Although we’re a ten-minute drive from town, there are a dozen or more houses within walking distance and we had the good fortune of meeting many of our neighbours at a local gathering shortly after arriving — a day-long affair filled with food, wine (supplied by two of the local vignerons), conversation and a couple of rounds of pétanque, a game we last played over a year ago in Vichy.

Following our four-month travels around England and Scotland it’s good to settle for a while in one place again — plus, we have two adorable dogs to look after: an energetic Cocker Spaniel who loves nothing more than to chase a tennis ball and a rather more mellow Scottish Terrier — and I’m looking forward to spending the autumn/winter in France. Hopefully it won’t be quite so cold as it was in Burgos last year.

Mufidah Kassalias Mufidah Kassalias is a writer, photographer and slow traveller. A digital nomad, she’s also co-founder of Creative Thunder, helping creative individuals and small businesses to fire up their online presence and prowess. To get a free copy of the inspiring Creative Thunder Manifesto, click here.

19 responses

  1. As the mists of early Autumn arrive here in the UK..its a little joy to get ur Sunflower picture.. & I can almost taste the good food & wine of the rustic French countryside…lovely Mufidah

    • Happy to know you enjoyed my sunflower photograph. :-) We’ve had a couple of very foggy mornings as we’re in a small valley, but it soon warms up. Hope the autumn stays mild in the UK. And that winter isn’t so long and dark as last year.

  2. There has been a long debate about whether a flower head of a tournesol actually tourne vers le sol[eil], i.e. turns toward the sun. As best I’ve been able to confirm from reliable sources, sunflower buds show some sensitivity to the sun’s position, but the developed flower heads don’t.