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A Branch of Mimosa for Carmen

“I will bring you cassie, if you still enjoy its perfume,” wrote French novelist Prosper Mérimée in Lettres à une inconnue (Letters to an Unknown). The Unknown, was Mademoiselle Jenny Dacquin, the daughter of a notary of Boulogne, with whom Mérimée corresponded for over forty years. And what flower should his Carmen throw to Don José? Une fleur de cassie.

Cassie and mimosa are two closely related plants from the acacia family. The branches covered with masses of lemon yellow pompoms not only squint beautiful, they moreover have a rich scent valued in perfumery. Native to Australia, mimosas were brought to France in the 18th century by the British explorer, Captain James Cook, and they have flourished in the summery winters of the Mediterranean coast. Every February the Massif de Tanneron in Provence turns golden yellow as the mimosas come into bloom, a Fauvist painting come alive.

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