Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Corporal pleasure

My vigneron is still crying poor. In the meantime, I become like him, rich on paper, but not a cent in my pocket. It’s not easy being poor in paradise. And if I have want, can I really be in paradise? It’s true that money isn’t everything, but it is something. It’s one of those somethings that only becomes a problem when it starts becoming nothing. It’s like a body just before it dies, it has to consider breath, and breathing as something conscious. The less you have, the more important a little becomes.

It’s spring and I am seeing a lot of creatures going at it. Bee’s doing it, birds doing it, why oh why can’t we do it. Come on baby lets fall in love.

Imagine all the souls awaiting incarnation. Angels lining up until the end of the universe, past the point where the real nothing that is the outside of the universe begins. These angels (you must imagine them in fantastical corporal form with wing spans of enormous proportions, it’s the exact opposite of the pin-head theory) are lined up going far into the void our universe is only just spreading into.

This queue to enter into corporal form and play on earth in full sensation is endless. These angels are all awaiting corporeal incarnation. It’s a fantastical hit in the astral world of the collectively unconscious. In fact, it’s the only thing of it’s kind out there where time hasn’t yet been conceived (in this sense the ‘waiting line’ is without wait, it just is). It’s a chance to play in a human body for a few moments, a lifetime. It’s a little break in the monotony of eternal bliss.

Bill begged to give it a try. Everyone laughed, “you just got off, but have at it again if you want.”
“I think I will, it’s really a great ride.
“Go ahead, queue up, we’ve got plenty of time, and it is fun to watch you. We’ll wait here”.

It’s a trip this slipping into physical form, the diminution of dimensions into three, covered in skin and flexible, full of excitations of the senses. It’s a chance to be embodied with a heart that beats.

Imagine the hit here if one had an attraction, a game if you will, where we could inhabit just a single dimension. You could be a single point, anywhere and everywhere you wanted. It would be a global phenomena. The only problem is that once you stopped playing it you would forget it ever existed. Perhaps it’s not a problem, everyone would just line up again. I mean what does it feel like to be a single point in space, surrounded by an infinite amount of other, seemingly just like you, points? Points don’t really ponder, they just make up stuff.

It’s hard to fathom that once we were just a speck in someones eye, an idea in the back of the mind. It is difficult to believe that we can begin with the caress of a hand in a dance hall, a whisper at the window.
- can I just come in for a minute?
Et Voila, the queue of angels all step forward again. Everyone desiring to play again, and why not, it really can be quite a treat, exhilarating, exasperating, either way it’s exciting.

And where they are coming from it’s so perfect that it often feels (at least that’s what they say) like nothing. Like the weather on a late september evening, when the air against your skin feels like nothing. When your skin registers neither hot nor cold, no breeze or humidity or anything else. It’s a conscious, pleasant sensation of feeling no difference between yourself and all the space that surrounds you. It feels almost as though your body has no borders, it can expand freely into everything. Or is it nothing, either way I forget.

We’re all dying to try on this corporeal body, to live out this physical dream. The supreme comfort of being held in loving arms wrapped in flesh is a pleasure not even accessible to the highest of angels.

So all that to say among the daily worries, I am trying to feel the sensations that I came here to experience, like that the misery is just another strong sensation that passes into the next feeling. It’s quite a ride at this stage, the sensations on many ends come in fast and furious and with the semi-strange backdrop of small sunny france.

But like I said, it’s a long train of thought if I start asking how I got where I am. Suffice it to say, it began with desire and will end when I lose it. In the meantime the toiling in the vineyards goes on.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

vigne sky

Everyday the sky is the show. After long stretches of time stooped over, looking down into the souche, clipping, grabbing, clipping, pulling, clipping, tossing aside, next, to stand up straight, stretch backwards and see the sky - well it’s sometimes a shock. In the sky above, there’s always a show going on. Oh.
Perhaps the clouds dancing on blue fields, or just the blue blue blue limitless blue sky itself. A black crow, a silver flash of jetliner. Or layers of grey. Clouds gathering, sprinting on the wind. Zooom. A pair of Mirage jets tracing the contours of the hills. A great blue heron.

Stretch and follow them, and then back to the vines. The ten, twenty, thirty second break is over. Bend again, down into the vine, cut it back, then the next - stem, souche, row, field. Oh. My body. The earth. Dense.

Two black crows. Floating in circles. Laughing at the earth bound humans toiling below. Yellow and red forest fighting planes, in a pack, like whales, low and lumbering, back and forth to the lac du salagou. A hawk, a heron, a single ray of golden light. A rainbow, a snowfall, an eagle that flies to heights out of sight. The above, the sky. Near and far.

Now at the end of march, the cold only comes as a factor of wind speed, not temperature, which as far as the thermometer goes, is not greatly variable. But the days when the wind is blowing, damp and nonstop from the North, the cold still bites at any exposed skin and shortly thereafter goes after the hands and feet. If the sun pops up over the roche de la virge it will, after an hour or so, take the bite out of the wind, and then by noon it can be a fabulous day. If the sun doesn’t arrive, the day is long, and the toiling in the vineyards becomes more than just a parable.

“The sun has heated up the earth enough to create a constant rising front to block any cold air on the plateau from rushing in under it, it blocks the cold from descending into the valley. See the clouds, it will be overcast tonight” - the vigneron tells me. He has a concise and logical sounding explication of how each weather pattern runs, its possibilities, its cloud pattern, its foretelling of the weather to come.

Sometimes even through my deafness to the language (or perhaps because of it), the descriptions of the weather sometimes sounds like poetry. Yesterday, on a two minute break that extended into five and a cigarette, the vigneron stretched out beside me, pointing up. “Look at the clouds, they are like the sand on the floor of the sea” .

Then he took me to the sea with him on a rare voyage he once had once taken as a child with his family in Spain. He said it was one of his few memories of his father not in the vines. His father had explained to him as they were wading in the warm sea water how the clouds, which had the same rippled form as the sand they were standing in, were formed because of similar forces. The rise of each ripple in sand or cloud gave an indication of the force acting on it. The high, uniform ripples spoke of a force that wasn’t so strong, but was constant. Then the vigneron added that he thought that was the way one needed to be occupied when farming. He sounded wistful, as if he knew that was the way he would have liked to tend his vines but couldn’t. For him it was full force, full pressure, full time.

While he reminisced about what had been and what is, the sarment got a short reprieve before being clipped, thrown to the ground, churned back into the rocky earth to feed their progenitor.

In the meantime I fall in love with passing clouds I’ll never see again. I watch them float by, only to be replaced by another. I start to know their names and where they come from. I find if I stare at them long enough, pay them mind, they all become beautiful, even those that are spitting at me. Lately I’ve found they have responded to my glances and started to reveal their patterns, and that, more than the particular, is what really strikes my fancy. It pulls my regard upwards, away from my earthly toils, makes me fall deeper into their mystery, and their matrix, the sky that covers us all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another day.

It’s a funny thing that happens to foreigners who have set up shop in a distant land for a while. They don’t stop being strangers as much as the place they inhabit becomes less strange. Things become familiar and then slowly forgotten. You can even begin forgetting that where you are is different from where you came from. It can happen though, that you find yourself in a situation, a room, a circumstance, that exposes the essence of the difference and suddenly you think, Shit, I live in France.

I go to work in the vines everyday and that thought rarely comes to me. Today it shot through me as I stood in the lawyers office. Actually it was the staircase that triggered the synopses that lead to that train of thought. Yes the lawyer office, I found someone to take my public defense coupon. That means going through all the initiation rigmarole again.

It’s like getting a new trick that you know will be frequenting for a while. You have to see what they’re like, how they like it done. It’s not complicated, it seems lawyers are like all the other tricks, most of them want it in a certain way that doesn’t really vary that much from all the others. Still, each has their variations and if you want it to work out to everyone’s benefit it’s best if it starts off on the right foot.

In any case I had some papers to give him. This being france, and being a legal matter to boot, these will be just the beginning of reams of paper that will filled out and filed. I have started a new one for round two of my ‘proceedings’. But that is another story. In any case thanks to my battling almost one day ex wife I had one of those hyper clear regards on the world around me.

It was something about the black and white tiled floor in the 18th century solid stone building in the middle of town where the lawyer has his office. The wood bumpered steps, the solid, yet light looking, cast iron railing that rose and twisted gracefully along with them. The look of the double wooden doors, the details of the window frame, cut from stone. It all said ‘made (unlike you) in france’.

On another regard it’s nice to be so at home in a place that you start taking exceptional things for granted. This doesn’t mean they go unnoticed, it just means you get in the habit of it not being a special occasion when you engage in it. Champagne is the obvious example, but that is the same good product everywhere, and more just of a cultural overlay.

The really good stuff is the stuff that doesn’t even present itself elsewhere. That may not even be in the lexicon of folks out of the region. I am talking about a local product, really local, like things that grow in the wild, but are reaped in certain areas at certain times like any other crop. Vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, herbs.

The other good thing about local wild products is that they are free, if you know where to get them. In a pinch they can usually be had at the market, but that involves prices, sometimes at champagne levels. In any case when they are in season they are available where they grow and out of season they don’t exist.

Being a fake farmer in a little village, I have a high level of access to both the products exact season and the places where they grow. This is not to mention that whatever particle tool may be needed (never complicated) I have at hand. Today it was a pioche. Also known as a pick ax. The vigneron has his in the back of the truck just for occasions like today.

Yes spring is not only forcing the buds to pop out on the vines, but everything else that grows is on the rise. Today it was poireau sauvage - wild leeks. We had noticed that they had popped up as we made our way up and down the rows. They look any other weed growing in the vines. And like many of the other things growing in and around the vines they are edible, and whats more they are full of very good taste. A taste that can’t be had otherwise.

We got the pick ax and started working up and down the rows again. Fifteen minutes later we each had a bag full and off we went. Everyone loves to eat them. The only problem with many of the wild products, no one likes to prep them. But that is all part of the deal, they arrive full of dirt, and long hairy roots. both of which, need to be eliminated.

The difference between being a real farmer and a fake farmer is that the real farmers woman does all that work, a fake farmer has to do it himself. Though in my womans defense she does prep and cook all the wild boar the vigneron lays on me. Mmm primes de panier.

Coming soon wild asparagus.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In black and white.

I was going to take the road that leads to the vigne again today, but I keep getting pulled onto another route. It ended leaving the air of a sordid affair, and it continues to de-track my thoughts in a scandalizing sort of way. The curĂ© and his beau, or at least that shot into my head when I saw him look around like an owl as he opened the presbytery door, just before the two of them stepped in. “No after you”.

I thought I was a bird, standing motionless, inconspicuous on the balcony above as they strolled from the car to the door. The beau was unaware, but the curie saw me, and shot me a look. I felt like a sparrow under the gaze of a hungry owl. Something from both our sides registered that the other had been ‘noted’.

It’s too bad, before I saw the padre and his beau I had been thinking of the group of professional folks I saw all gathered together on the side of the road that drops down into the little village of La Salces. It’s a road that has about all you could want in your southern france country road. It’s skinny and smooth and winding, and is surrounded by a patchwork of green. Forests and olive groves and vines cutting their lines among the rolling and rising hills. Coteaux de Larzac is their appellation If you see this road on a map, it’s colored with the mark of ‘scenic route’.

They were all in a pile these out of place characters who seem to pop up anywhere. They are always out of the scenes character, it’s the thing that makes you take notice. They were all young and hip and hyper-professional. Theirs is a profession that has all the attraction of a traveling gypsy circus. When you see them you think how wonderful it would be to run away with them. That is until you do, and then you realize the reality isn’t quite like the dream. Or perhaps their reality is too much like a dream, in the sense it is often chaotic and unsure.

In effect it is what this group fabricates. Dreams that is. They are the creators of illusion and attraction. It’s their business, and it’s most attractive illusion is themselves, as they go about weaving the dreams we will see in the future. Their was about a dozen of them. These expensively outfitted, good looking hipsters standing beside their shiny rented truck just in front of the vines I had put in order the other day.

They were surrounded by all their dream making equipment. The truck had disgorged it’s charge and everyone was demi-busy arranging this or that. Primping is really a better word - there is no real heavy work in this high paid world. I know, I spent a bit of time in their ranks when I was running away in Chicago.

It's a job that is all about primping, ceci, cela. The lights, and reflections, the makeup and cables. In this business the smoke and mirrors are real, and expensive. And everything right from the stars on down is precious. You keep your job with them by being precious too. It’s fun, and easy to do when you know your job is creating someones dream.

They had picked their spot well, though they almost always do. Beautiful settings are part of any good dream. It was a beautiful sunny morning and their backdrop was the freshly ordered black souche in the foreground and the rolling green checkerboard of field and forest behind. In the far distance there was a skyful of extremely calm blue reflecting off the morning sea. An idyllic setting for the pretty girl turning her head from her man, over and over again until she looks like she means it, and the director says ‘that’s a take”.

The vignerons wife saw them to on the road to work too. She was a-gaggle all morning with it. They were filming on her land and it excited her. A real film crew, they were on her property just in front of the vines we had worked two days ago. What if we were there working, she wondered - we were that close to being in a film.

I was happy for her. I felt kind of the same. it was something out of the ordinary and we talked about it all morning, I tried to say that since we had pruned the vines behind them, we were the films ‘greensman’ but my story was lost in translation. It didn’t matter though, I got it.

We could see them across the little valley from where we were working. She noticed when they left around 11:00. She suggested a break just then and I seconded it, so we took a cigarette and watched them break down. From the distance it looked no different from an olive man and his workers loading their truck, and yet she was pulled toward it like the local lass to the swarthy roustabout. Pure attraction. Here, then gone, what’s more romantic than that when you are tied to the land. It was an event I could see fixing itself in her memories like a dreamt image. Not of the heavy tossing and turning kind like the curĂ© and his beau had left, but rather something lighter, quicker. Like a jet fighter cutting between mountains.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Habeus Coitus- avec juste un peu de romance. R/3

So it’s off to the lawyers tomorrow. It is now just over three years of proceedings and two decisions made. My hopefully one day EX-wife didn’t like either one, so the process continues. The main reason for her displeasure seems to be she would like everything and that decision hasn’t yet be rendered. Little by little though she will wear the system down. It’s a big system, the justice department of the country of France, it takes time. Shit, it took me fifteen years before I couldn’t take it anymore, who knows how long it will be before our old blind friend Justice gives in and throws up her hands too saying
- okay, okay I've had enough of you, if I give you everything will you leave me alone?

That's what I finally ended up saying. She’s already got the kids and the house but it just doesn’t seem to be enough. She wants something intangible that a public institution just can’t deliver, like tranquility. She thinks it’s something someone should have to give her. It's her due for being so miserable. She is looking for retribution for her lack of it, and is now focused on me. In any case the process continues. As I said it’s already been three years and so far we haven’t budged from point zero.

It’s for that I have an appointment at the lawyers. It’s a new lawyer for stage three now. The other lawyer got tired of it and said a case like this could take many more years. For a flat fee it just didn’t seem worth it to her. Even though it’s her job, I can’t blame her. So now I have to find some other shyster who can see an angle in it. I just want to be done, be able to point her out in a crowd and say - yes, there, that’s her, my ex-wife. I mean I’ve already lost my two kids and the house I bought and rehabbed, what is in it for me. It all seems so pathetic.

The vines go on, we knock down field. They seem to never end too. The nice thing though is that unlike my wife they do and one day long before my divorce is declared we will be done. It’s hard to think that you could grow the grapes, process them, age the wine for a few years, and then drink it before a simple divorce can be decried. Imagine the time it would take to figure out the books that would eventually show just how screwed we got by AIG, Citigroup and the likes. And though that may before I am officially declare divorced, I wouldn’t wait for the book to come out anytime soon.

I am broken battered beaten bruised and bemused with it all. The spring has come on for the last week and the sun tans the skin and raises the sap. The vines are weeping with each slice of the scissors. Literally pouring sap from each new cut. It sometimes makes a small pool below the souche that is quickly absorbed by the dusty earth, leaving just a dark wet stain. I keep looking for some clue to things in the shape of the stain that is left on the ground. So far I have seen nothing but abstract forms. If I do see something I will be sure to let you know.

I did see something yesterday. Or should I say ‘heard’ something. because that’s how I first came to be aware of it. Two eagles copulating. It was a raucous event. It didn’t last long, and lacked any of the ‘hot’ aspect that we sometimes think of when copulating comes to mind, but it was something I never saw before, at least live and un-staged. It made me happy to be where I was for a moment, even if I was sweating it out for minimum wage at a dead end job.

It’s the unexpected that always attracts. It’s for that I am staring at the pools of sap that gather below the cut sarment. I am looking for something unexpected, but recognizable. Like the end of this divorce, or someone fucking someone else, but with love, not anger.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Business. The crisis, and it's contra-face, opportunity.

The wheel spins on. The scenario heats up. The vigneron is hard pressed. He is long on capital and very short on liquidity. They are coming at him from all sides. The rent, the mortgage, the cars, the plaquiste, the plumber, and all the miscellaneous daily expenses that come with being him in his world.

In the meantime the taille of his vignes waits not. There is still a large chunk to go and his one ouvrier is threatening to go on strike until he is paid. It will be a walkout if he isn’t paid at least enough to have gas to get to work, and a few euro's left for some little somethings, what they used to call pin money, or the boys in jersey referred to as 'walking around money'.

The parcel in question had just been 'tailled'. The next day the vigneron came in with his first price. He has acknowledged he needs to sell something. He wants to sell it to his ouvrier to wipe out the debt owed him. He wants another ouvrier to possibly work ‘a la tache’ in some kind of barter. It’s a long shot but like that the vigneron might get his taille finished on time, and consequently the house construction too. It’s all open. Bargainable. The one thing is sure he needs cash as quick as possible.

His price was 4.25 brick. That’s francs. It is based on a half hectare +/- . HALF of which is carrignan and the other cinsault. Is there a use for that? When the vigneron said the price, the ouvrier said nothing. Only that of course the canadian would have to look at it, being that he knew those sorts of things. The vigneron said he would get the papers out regarding the parcel, it’s geometre, it’s production from last year. The deed.

The other question is do you want the ouvrier with the deal. Yes the ouvrier has said that wants in, and it’s true in a big way. For all the reasons you said, flagships floating back to the new world, the joy of the project that goes on with the seasons, the chance to be in on creating something of quality, and doing it with all from the land. And there is more.

You see the ouvrier wants a piece of the land, terroir in his french neighborhood. It’s where he has what pass for his nouveau french roots. It’s a zone of farmers. He wants to be a farmer too, but not a real one the everyday one. He just wants entry into the deeper roots of how to make the grapes grow and how they are fined into wine. This project seems to have all the parts that will work, and at the end he drink the fruits of the labors. Yes, the ouvrier wants in. How about you.

He brings labor, and cash, and a small but useful reseau. He wants in on at least the growing end. As for the vinification end that would be as much or as little as the canadian feels like sharing. So those are the things in play. The first offer has been made. 42575f. Rumor has it the canadian will be back the 18th.

Monday, March 9, 2009

They just keep coming

The vines continue. They go on and on. The wind blows, the sun shines, the rain falls. We continue. We are always almost half way done. It’s as if in a dream where you run at full speed but get nowhere. The souche are like the federal soldiers charging the wall at Fredricksburg, or for that matter a Chinese soldier in Korea - they just keep coming. No matter how many are slain there are more behind them. The electrocoup 2000 like the confederate rifles, keeps firing all day until the barrel is too hot to touch. They arrive, they are cut down, and another presents itself. It goes on from sun rise, to sun set. It is psychologically brutal, even on a beautiful day.

But I won’t complain, if I started I would have to continue. Tell of my body that is racked with fatigue from the inside out. Speak of the groups of muscles that are stretched with the same motion so many times that they become sore when moved in any motion that varies from the ordained movement of the taille. I would end up telling of my hand that wakes up literally frozen in place, as if clenched around the handle of my tool, or the barrel of a gun. Talk about my legs that constantly feel, and sometimes move, as if they are made of stone. But as I said, I won’t complain.

After all we’re in a crisis, and so there are always worse scenarios. Like the vignerons. He started working this job when he was ten. He was fifteen when his father died and he became the head. He’s multiplied his holdings just to the point where all he can do now is work, and try to stay ahead of the bankers. They are all skittish nowadays and they are passing it on down the line. My vigneron is feeling it, and by consequence me too.

The reason I can’t really complain about my work, is that I am not really working. Work, or more specifically a job, implies completing a task and being remunerated for it. That’s not really my case. As I’ve said before, it’s more like the commercial lien between a hooker and her pimp. She does the work and he gives her what he thinks she needs, when he’s got it. My vigneron loves me, he would give me some money if he had it, he’s just a little short right now. It’s hard times right now with him having to pay for the new car he just got, and the new house he’s building for himself. He did promise me he’s going to get me a new pruning tool for next year. Also I don’t want to keep bothering him for some money or he may just let me go.

It was cold today, the winds were 50mph with gusts up to 80. The sun never really came out. We spent quite a bit of time in the truck with the heat on, drinking hot tea. For a farmer the truck is his office, and when we were warming up, my farmer was carrying out a little business on the phone. He was talking with the bank trying to get an advance on some money he’s got coming in. They weren’t too receptive, the crisis and all that. It also seems he is a bit over-extended already. Normally that might make me nervous, but I know better than to doubt him. When I told him I couldn't come to work tomorrow because I had no gas in my car, he pulled out a wad of cash and peeled a fifty off for me. I know my vigneron, he loves me. He’ll take care of me, just like a good pimp does.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It’s not romantic all the time. R/2

Some days you wake up and look out the window and just see gray. The hero of our story, his name is Hank, woke up like that this morning. He woke up thinking with the letter he had read, and re-read last night. It was as if it had turned in his head all night, churning up the weather that made the windows he wanted to look out upon, appear as if they had been covered in lead.

Hank felt boxed in. Quelle salope were the words that the thought gave form to. Then he said it out loud, just vaguely moving his lips and expiring the phrase, so as to give it solid form and cast it out. He threw off the covers and sat up. Whatever his particular case, the day goes on.

It was gray and wet but it wasn’t raining and that meant suiting up and off to work. Hank wondered if he could still call it that. That witch had put a spell over that world too. The morning was giving off the same vibes as her, cold, wet and uninviting. A day that finishes with mud caked on your boots, the cold leaching into your feet and working its way around you. Yes, wet and cold and Hank would soon be in it again.

He realized this grinding weight of being boxed in could drive him over a line. It had already been three years. In the beginning he thought it would run it’s course and then finish. Now he was no longer sure of it’s terminus. In the meantime the battle mentality had become quotidian. It complicated every gesture and wrapped itself around every simple action. At one time he had thought the justice system would eventually see the folly of it, but now he realized why they said justice is blind.

Blind people stumble about, just like all the rest of us, when things aren’t clear. Hank was tired of stumbling, and was becoming angry at being tripped. He kept thinking it would just take one momentary release of the controls that were in place to put an end to the non reasoned unhappiness that swarmed around her, and which was constantly trying to imply itself on him. A momentary lapse into rage and action, what our blind friend Justice called a ‘crime of passion’, and everything would be much cleaner. Like that hard rain that will come and wash the trash from the streets.

But because he left just enough time to carry out his primordial duties in the morning, there wasn’t time for dreaming. The world around Hank was turning and he needed to move too. It’s hard to get up the courage. That’s why he took sugar with his tea. It was a little reward, which he needed sometimes, just for getting up.

The day was already happening outside his doors. He could hear the vendors setting up for the weekly market. He got ready and off he went. The bells said eight thirty just as he locked the door. It would have been hard to tell otherwise, everything he saw gave the appearance of it being much earlier in the morning. The vendors were few and still in the process of setting up their stalls. But even more convincing was that the lead gray sky gave no indication that the sun had risen behind it. It was so convincing a representation of seven o’clock in the morning that Hank had a fleeting sensation of pride at having got at it so early.

He liked going to work wendsday mornings. The market set up just in front of his apartment. It had a carnival like ambiance. It was active and loud and colorful and was full of paysans and merchants setting out their wares. It gave off a feeling that Hank imagined wasn’t much different than it had been in the middle ages. Aside from the fact that the vendors now arrived in motorized trucks instead of horse drawn carts, the form and function of the village market has remained exactly the same throughout time.

That continuity made Hank want to be within it and he got a sense of doing just that when he walked through the market to get to his car. It helped that he wore his red suspendered electrocoup 2000 slung over his shoulder. It identified him. Put him firmly in the peasant class. The merchants looked at him, they addressed him with their nods. The work Hank did had a continuity that went further back into the mists of human history than their own. Hank was the latest in that line. There was a recognized value to that.

The last year, crossing the market on the way to the vines, the flower girl whom Hank had seen several times before, had stuck a rose in his pocket as he walked by. When Hank thanked her she laughed in a way that was so attractive Hank felt himself physically drawn to her, and before he thought about doing it, he had taken a short step toward her. At the same moment, perhaps a very small moment before, she had stepped the same sized step toward him, and thanked him. Then she laughed again. Hank had the impression that they had just had an infinitesimal dance together, and he said so. I like the dances that last longer, she said as she conspicuously scanned his electrocoup 2000 trimming tool.

Hank laughed at that, and she smiled too. She said her father had been a vigneron and she remembered helping him with the taille when she was young, she wondered how it was with a power tool. Hank replied that it was just faster and less intimate. She had been disappointed to hear that, her father had always said that the tending of the grapes was extremely important because without wine none of us would even be here.

At first Hank had had a hard time understanding what she was saying, and he found himself listening to just the rhythm of her words. She spoke with a heavily accented voice and she borrowed frequently from the Occitan language - the langue d’oc. It had been Le lingua franca in this area before the Franks had smothered it with their own. In the end he had understood the main drift of it.

Her story was something about how before the world was inhabited, the spirits who were, had created, and then used wine to give their essence a corporeal body. The alcohol gave their ethereal beings a denser property and thus they could take a form with which to partake of the sensual which exists solely in the physical world. It was a realm of physical being which for all eternity before that had been denied them.

Then she rattled off in quick succession, distillation, spirits, specific gravity, density, body - listen to the words we use when we are talking about grapes and making wine. Civilizations have always linked wine with the Holy. Then she smiled and said ‘I’ve got to get back to work’. Hank had went to work too. He had never seen her again, but he could still breath her.

He remembered it as one of those infrequent moments of feeling fully connected and content with himself and the place he was inhabiting. The brief walk through the market, emblazoned with his tailleurs emblem hanging from him engendered an almost giddy feeling the he was playing his part. It was like a circus, and he was a traveling roustabout.

But today Hank was just stunned by the difference of time. The flower girl wasn’t there again but he saw some roses and so she flashed in him.
pt 2. Hanks day finishes much different than he had previewed

Sunday, March 1, 2009

romance and the town dump. R/1

I am back on the way to my mythical vines to work. Or should I say ‘watch the workers’. I know I said I wouldn’t make up any more stories, but I can’t just go on and forget the romance. I would have to leave out what happened on the road between Rabieux and St Jean today. It was some minutes just before nine o’clock.

At this time of the year the sun has just begun to crest the small hills on the east of the valley that this road runs through. Two weeks ago in this area, at this hour of the day, the sun was still firmly behind the hills. It’s always a pretty road to drive but this morning it was like a well lit dream. The landscape was highlighted here and there, where it could catch the new days rays, with a fresh yellow, almost golden light. In the little hollows the hoar frost was turning from white to glistening, just before it disappeared. The sky was the profound blue color it can be here.

There was one perfectly crowned almond tree in full, white petaled flower. Just the top half of it was catching the light. The tree sits at the end of a small parcel full of just pruned vines. The souche, all trimmed and orderly are like lines of gnarled dead soldiers. The vines like the trunk of the tree had yet to be touched by the light of the gold ball that was rising in the east. They both gave off a look of black, solid, dormant. All the more because of the immaterial and shimmering whiteness of the flowers that seemed to float in the sun rays just above them.

Moments like that make me feel romantic, whatever the case may be with ex-wives and specious incomes. It’s chance to come across them. That in itself engenders its own waves of love, regardless of the spectator and their regard. If by hazard, chance and a regard coincide... well, like Frank Sinatra says, it’s magic baby.

On my way to watch the workers I had to stop at the town dump. La dechetterie as they call it here. It was the one in the little town where I used to live. You know the cute little village in the South of France. Full of flowers and romance and old rock houses. Well just outside the town walls is the dump for all the refuse that this cute little town produces.

It’s a practical system. Over sized garbage, old furniture, old dead objects dragged from caves and greniers are all thrown over the hill just at the edge of town. It’s like a do it yourself land fill, or at least it was when I moved here, or there, if we are talking in a more specific case.

In the old system there was a vague mode of triage for the various types of garbage, but basically it was a throw it over the edge type of affair. Usually anything that might have some use to someone else was left aside to be picked over, and once a month or so a bulldozer would come and push everything flat, slowly filling in the ravine. It was always open and had functioned in more or less the same fashion since the town was built in the 12th century.

Needless to say not long after we got there the system changed. I don’t know if it is me, or just my epoch but once I get somewhere, whether it is Wicker Park in Chicago, or St Jean de la Blaquiere in France, the place changes not long after I get there. The thing that sucks about that is that it always seems to be changing for the worse. Worse in the sense of being less convenient, less fun, and more expensive.

I mean it may not be ecologically sound to crash a 1970’s epoch giant television into a rock filled ravine, but it sure was fun when my son and I did it back in the olden days of six years ago. The new system probably isn’t any more ecological when you account for all the carting around of containers, but it surely is more expensive and less fun.

Nowadays the dump is all fenced in. There is a surveillant there at all times when it is open, which is a total of thirty five hours a week. Everything is sorted into containers and he stands there and watches you to make sure you dump your things into the proper container. Metal, cardboard, biodegradable, construction debris, paints and hazardous materials. He is reluctant to let you go through the discards in the containers. It’s all clean and safe.

I often wonder how you go about getting a job like that. I mean basically you sit in a little mobile home all day and on occasion watch people throw out their garbage. When I asked, the guy was vague. I pried a bit more and it was like I figured, you really need to have a relative or other firm connection in the departmental offices where those jobs originate. I realized that’s one of the problems with be a foreigner, you no have connection anywhere.

I said so long to the garbage guard and got back in my car, I was running late for my mythical job in the vines. As I started up the car, one of the containers went rumbling by on the back of a big truck. I saw an old metal shelving unit sticking out of the container. It would have been perfect for the studio in the back of the garden where I live.

Instead it was being carted off to the smelter and perhaps a slow boat to china where it will be recast as something new and shiny then shipped somewhere in the world and sold. The idea of that seemed silly at best, lunatic at worse, and in either case less romantic than the discarded shelving unit coinciding with my regard and being reanimated in a little garden atelier in the south of France.

But it’s all part of the new world order of global motion. They say it’s better for all of us, but I miss the old order that included a town dump of trash and treasure and tumbling televisions. It just seemed less predictable, full of chance and in general a lot more fun and a bit more romantic. You know that’s how I like it.

The road running out of the dechetterie is small and windy, and now I was stuck behind the truck. If I had had a real job, with a real starting time I would have been late. It’s lucky for me that my vigneron is the kind of boss that doesn’t worry about that type of thing. At least he doesn't in my version of how things are.