Terroir


La Tourbeille in Paris – 2017 5

We have lived and loved many cities – but dare I say, we have a particular weakness for Paris, city of brave St Geneviève and brave St Elizabeth, city of erudition, of romance, of high standards for all that encompasses gastronomy, wine and pleasure. So joy it was indeed to be back in Paris last week when dear friends Dominique and Jacques hosted a Vertical Tasting of our wines in their home. To spoil our tasters we went to one of the finest cheese shops in Paris, as only the Parisians can boast, for they take first pick of the […]


Wild Man in the Woods 5

Perched on one leg like a stork in the rain, I was swearing at the soggy cow path that had stolen my boot. The bottomless mire sucked it right off my foot and I yelped with panic as it began to disappear. Imagining the long, half-barefoot walk to the house in cold muck, IF I could pick my way out of this treacherous sink hole, I made a last attempt to retrieve the rogue boot, and found myself toppling in slow motion into the mud. How he had come so close in silence still mystifies me. He righted me and […]


Quarantine 5

Household under self imposed CWQ  (Creative Winter Quarantine).  A few rituals for hiding beneath the surface of regular life: Chain oneself to a work post and pray that gestation will evoke some magic. Go down to the Grotto in the woods, listen to the water fall.  Fill as many bottles as you can carry, drink the rest.  The water is soft and sweet and tasting of round minerals. Crisscross under the stone ridge heeding the sound of chipping.  Discover John under the cliff, chisel in hand, searching for essence in an enormous oak limb.  We agree to break silence.  Discuss […]


Going underground 4

There was a time I thought it strange and frightening to bury our loved ones in the earth.  So much dark and heavy.  So much mystery.  So unfriendly. I should have remembered my own first plunge into deep earth.  Four years old, imploding with confused fury after an act of injustice, running away blind.  Searing indignation, prickling hot tears, and then a fall into a deep hole.  Later my family found me asleep, wrapped around the trunk and roots of an old oak tree. Of course my older brothers teased me for decades, via their scathingly pejorative epithet – tree hugger. […]


For the Friction 3

When we renovated the kitchen of this old farmhouse we installed two sinks because generous guests are forever asking, “what can I do to help?” So all through this glorious month of bounty – fruit, vegetables and convivial gatherings – cheery teams have put those workstations to good use. The teams migrate as projects are conceived. One morning someone wakes up and says, “let’s build an extension to the deck.” And out come the power drills. On the hottest afternoon of the year our neighbors Nikky and David * arrive with expertise and physical prowess to help move the huge […]


Witch Doctors 2

The image of the wild man or woman living in the woods, stirring up cauldrons of potions for ailments, seems to have been filed away into the long-ago-and-far-away category. A mostly irrelevant archetype unless you’re reading tarot cards. We might ask how mankind ever survived without modern pharmaceuticals. Right up until the 1950’s, our parents lived and breathed customs and know-how that changed radically when industrial agriculture was introduced post WW2. Something as modest as the omnipresent hedge – with varying plants to attract beneficial insects and creatures, provided wind breakers that protected crops during storms, and valuable, earth-nourishing root […]


Away With the Dead Wood 2

I suppose everyone has their own version of dead wood.   Stuff accumulates, it’s probably part of the law of Inertia. Not too consequential if you’re just clearing out a junky closet.  But when the inertia has descended onto several acres over 40 years, it gives one pause. The hilltop across the valley has been an eyesore for longer than we care to remember. The real shame of it is that the grove of acacia trees – so valuable for their hard wood, intoxicating perfume, and bee-attracting flowers – has been devastated by the fatal appetites of mistletoe and thorn bushes. […]


To Graft a Fruit Tree – Lesson from a Village Elder 3

Our neighbor Monsieur C. called last night to ask about his patient. A month now since our grafting lesson and each day we check the old/young pear tree for new signs of life. I tell him the first green bud just popped and his pleasure is audible – he’ll hop over on his bicycle to see for himself. Monsieur C – “Anthony” is helping us achieve a grand wish – learning how to graft trees.  But his entry into our life is an even grander wish fulfillment, the discovery of an endangered species in our own back yard: an octogenarian […]


Rosé 2014 – L’esprit de Jeanne 7

Every land needs a protective spirit.   But where do they come from?   Are they settled in a place depuis la nuit des temps?   Do they migrate in search of suitable territory, like pollinators looking for a place where they can thrive? A few years ago we found our protective spirit hovering near the grotto in the woods. The place was wild, hidden by thorn bushes, inaccessible except to forest animals, asleep for decades.  Here the water flows right out of the rock cliff wall, filtered by fronds and moss and ferns, sweet and delicious. Our spirit is an adolescent […]


John’s EveryDay Moments, Winter 2015 2

No one would say daily life in the countryside is glamorous. Your mental space is filled up with ordinary, rural moments, and they mostly happen when you’re alone. Maybe that’s why so many farmers talk to themselves.  John isn’t talking to himself yet, but I’m starting to find little notes.  Here’s an excerpt. EveryDay Moments – Winter 2015 Walking across our compound to my office at dawn. Stoking the wood stove to keep my breath from crystallizing in the inside air.   Walking back to the house under the early blue-black evening sky. Taking in the first star on the […]