Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It begins again

In the vignes early on a crisp september morning that will turn into a perfect september day. Blue, blue, cloudless sky will come and last throughout the day. Softer light arrives with the sunny days now, it has begun to lose it’s scorching quality. The temperature is 80 degrees, give or take a few. It is the kind of day that makes the myth of the south of france continue.

For a couple of hours it was all the sentiments of the beautiful day beginning and more. I was happy to see the souches again. See how they fared during the summer. While I was frittering about here and there, they were working everyday. The new shoots I left have born fruit again. It’s really quite amazing that food (and in this case, drink) can grow.

I was in the vines to work, and though the grape harvest can conjure up romantic images, which do still exist, the overall reality of it is much different. The fact of the vendage in the time of mass production is that it is all day, low paying, stoop labor in unrelenting sun. I mean that how it is from my side. If you happened to be slowly passing by on the rising, sinewy country road that borders the vine we were in on the beautiful day that was today and saw the colorful peasants working in the fields, it may invoke a whole different feeling than the one I was having today. It was at least a different feeling than the one I was having after the first few hours of the day had past.

For me it was the first day picking this year, my vigneron started without me. He had begun last week. He is trying to save a few rubles by cutting back on the salary hours, even low paid workers add up to un-affordable when you already are on the financial edge.

For the first couple of hours today I was ecstatic to be in the vine again. Then we continued working, the sun came out. My hands and arms got sticky with grape juice. Wasps are all about the sweet juice, and consequently me too. The vines are low, I am tall, my back makes up the difference. The afternoon was beautiful, if you were sitting in a shaded cafe, in the field it was baking (which is admittedly different from scorching).

But the first few moments, cool just breaking morning, the grapes sweet with the summer sun and concentrated from lack of rain. Fresh, fresh, fresh in the morning. I had the heat on while heading to work, the boulanger at 6:30 am with a “hi, how you doing” and a good sandwich too. Yes, the vines in the morning for a few hours - fantastic, mythic, romantic. Then the rest of the day.

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