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.


  1. very poetic man i don't know if we can say that like that but thanks for this moment

  2. Stumbled upon this blog through a google picture search of blue skies. Thank you for this lovely message. I deeply enjoyed your poetry. You have a nice gift for imagery. THANKS =)