Friday, January 23, 2009

It’s raining today and 43° V/5

When it is raining in the morning we don’t work. That’s not to say we don’t work in the rain. If it rains when we are working we continue until it persists and then insists and then we stop. I work for a mad man. Like his profile dictates (you could say the stars if that's your predilection) he is a worker. He can clear fields with his bare hands. Build houses in a single year. And who described as Clark Kent (or the french equivalent - Charles Roi) fights for Truth Justice and the American (French) way.

My vigneron is the kind who would settle the wild west if they had one here. They fix planes in wars and tractors in peace. Have rock solid unwavering beliefs (often to the detriment of those most intimate to them) that can fluctuate when the change leans to their account. They live by numbers - square meters and costs, hectares and production. They spend their life chasing. It's a hard life in many ways.

They miss the softer symbols of value. They make complex figures they can't understand. They can’t calculate children, so they have to believe in tradition. They disappear in their fields and leave their wives and children to calculate the cost of absence. They can’t believe in softness, it’s implications are too many. In short, they are the type who work in the rain. So sometimes I do too.

But this is the south of France, the Mediterranean has its own well know effect on even the hardest of workers. The sun and sea that color this part of the world have been wearing down the steel of hard workers since the first go-getters wandered out of Africa. Hence here we are all aware that there is no sense to be miserable just on principle, the vines can wait until monday.

So what do all the tailleurs of vigne do if they are not out in the vines. At this point of the year we are omnipresent in the fields. Everywhere you go you see the cars parked in the vines, the red suspendered and battery packed hunched figures slowly (from a passing car they are motionless, like giant insects devouring a crop, after days of time they leave a field bare then swarm to another) going about their business.

For me, when it rains I feel good. I lay in bed while the house gets up and moves about its daily business of school and work. Then I get up slowly and let the idea of a ‘free’ day spread out before me. Morning tea, all sugared up. I smoke on the terrace and watch the masons, wet and cold, preparing a new roof in the rain across the street. Two young dudes with diplomas, they are ill dressed for the weather and their work reflects it. Ah, les artisans, long from downtown. Their miserable look pushes my day into luxuriousness.

I love my work when I am not doing it. For the next few months I am a tailleur of vigne again. A platelet in the economic life blood of the region. The boulanger where I get my sandwich greets me each morning and gives me a little break on the price. Like the rest of my caste I hobble slowly down the streets each night at dusk in medieval villages with my Electo-coup tool box in my hand. I except the nods from the neighbors like a returning soldier in an ongoing war. They often ask news from the front. I can only recount that it goes on.

But today a reprieve in the battle. All quiet on the southern front. Like a rainbow, the sun suddenly appears in the late afternoon. Just in time to tidy the house, attente les enfants, the weekend. Everybody, and Cash - in the house.

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