A chapter ends. A chapter with an arched eyebrow – enough rich desserts for awhile. These past months, one wave after another, richness after richness.
How often I wanted to shout, hey stop there just a second. When will we savour and assimilate? I need to pause and capture before the next wave comes. But the best you can do is try to let go, so you’re supple enough to take it all in.
Letting go. Letting go of the illusion of permanence. Trying to let go of the illusion of control. Trying to balance between willful action to create our landscape and our lives, and the sneaking suspicion that we’re a small part of a big picture, swimmers swept along by some divine current that is powerful beyond our understanding.
A dazed sensation at end of summer, like walking a beach strewn with the vanishing mementos of a long and excellent party.
At the very same time, we’re surrounded by other riches and scurried by an imperative to preserve – literally – the fruits of new harvests. Every day, an incoming embarrassment of figs, apples, peaches, pears, tomatoes, kale, chicory… and no time to waste.
For most people, a few fresh figs is an exotic experience – they’re not the same after transport or preservation. To do them justice we eat them off the trees, rejoice in their sweet flesh during a morning walk before breakfast, bring back a basket for the others.
Figs remind me of the futility of trying to freeze this banquet time. Futile, but I’m doing it anyway, because I’m thinking of Thornton Wilder’s Emily who asked, “Does anyone ever really appreciate life while they are living it?” Emily, who understands, only after she has gone to her grave.
Anyway, with this I let go. For yet another banquet wave is building and I’m up in the vineyard and John’s in the winery. Harvests and wine-making 2016 begin this week.
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Chronicle of “The Summer of So Much”
So much was the excitement of the first time:
Planning and planting several gardens from seed, using permaculture principles (vegetables, flowers and the beginning of a medicinal garden) and testing the waters for sales in 2017.
Julien’s first Birthday at Petit Roque, (Henri’s hand made gift – a crown from willow branches.)
Then we bought a restaurant!
The old Belvedere is perched on the edge of our land with an amazing view of the Dordogne river. Lots of paperwork and lawyers followed by lots of elbow grease – to remove the old and install the new. The idea is to create a cozy “Taverne” where people can relax, socialize, drink wine or artisanal beer, and enjoy tapas and desserts made from home grown vegetables and fruits. Henri, Carol and Julien treated us to an evening of their experiments in tapas dishes (Carol even replicated her grandmother’s wonderful recipe!)
And after tearing down decades of rubbish, what a view!
Genevieve’s Birthday. Another hand made gift from Henri.
“Vin d’Honnneur.” 80 of our neighbors and local friends gathered to celebrate Carol and Julien’s arrival in the community. Flowers and more flowers!
The Fete du Village. Once again we presented our wine at the village summer party and had a chance to catch up with our neighbor’s stories.
Agriculture school. The boys applied to government programs for certification to run the vineyard, the orchards and vegetable plantations. It will mean several months of studying by day and working on the Taverne renovation by night.
Learning from Neighbors. Jean and Micheline, 93 years old and a fount of old school information about honeybees, medicinal plants, fruit trees…. (Arthritis? Just rub some stinging nettles on your knee. Seriously.)
Preparing for the Big Event. Days of construction, landscaping, planting, painting…
Including the design and construction of 2 “Toilettes Seches.” In some parts of the world, people are scandalized by the use of clean drinking water to flush a toilet. What better occasion than a home wedding to make your own ecological toilets? (And they smell sweet from nice clean sawdust!)
The Music Festival. We help the Chamber Orchestra of Gironde put on world class concerts in beautiful, local, usually Romaneque churches. The tiny, village church of Coubeyrac at night was magic.
Wedding Preparations. Carol’s family arrived like an army to help with everything, from construction to flower arrangements. One day I found them returned from a nursery laden with 20 flowering bushes. They planted them all, led by her 75 year-old grandparents.
Flowers. We sowed wild flowers in a newly ploughed field last May in the desperate hope to dress the wedding tables. At 8 am the morning of the wedding the ladies went cutting – Carol’s grandmother, aunts and Geneviève. Masses and masses of pink flowers!
The Music Begins.
And favors for our guests – a special wedding vintage of La Tourbeille…