The Summer of So Much 8


A chapter ends. A chapter with an arched eyebrow – enough rich desserts for awhile.  These past months, one wave after another, richness after richness.

Julien and Carol, Wedding Day, a moment in the Vineyard

Julien and Carol, Wedding Day

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.

Carol and Julien, petals of joy

Carol and Julien, petals of joy

 

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.

basket of kale, chicory, tomatoes, just picked for dinner

basket of kale, chicory, tomatoes, just picked

 

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.

basket of wild white figs

basket of wild white figs

 

ready to pop in your mouth

just off the tree

 

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.

ephemeral artichoke flower

ephemeral artichoke flower

 

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.

La Tourbeille vineyard, ready to harvest, Sept 2016

La Tourbeille vineyard, ready to harvest, September 2016

 

 

 

 

 

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

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.

inspecting-the-rouliere-gardens-after-first-planting

Inspecting the Rouliere Gardens after first plantings

Henri in newly planted medicinal garden

Henri in newly planted medicinal garden

 

Sunflowers in the Rouliere Gardens, amidst the vegetables

Sunflowers in the Rouliere Gardens, amidst the vegetables

 

Julien’s first Birthday at Petit Roque, (Henri’s hand made gift – a crown from willow branches.)

Henri makes a crown of willow branches for Julien's First Birthday at Petit Roque,

Henri makes a crown of willow branches for Julien’s First Birthday at Petit Roque,

 

Then we bought a restaurant!

Day One at the Taverne. The Works Begins

Day One at the Taverne. The Work Begins.

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!)

Carol, Julien, Henri prepare the First Taverne Dinner

Carol, Julien, Henri prepare the First Taverne Dinner

First Tapas Experiments, all from our gardens

First Tapas Experiments, mostly ingredients from  our gardens

Carol's secret recipe!

Carol’s secret family recipe

First Dinner at the Taverne

First Dinner

And after tearing down decades of rubbish, what a view!

After clearing decades of rubbish, an incredible view from the Taverne at dinner

After clearing the rubbish, an incredible view from the Taverne at dinner

 

Genevieve’s Birthday.   Another hand made gift from Henri.

Genevieve's Birthday, Henri's Home made Gift

Genevieve’s Birthday, Henri’s Home made Gift

 

“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!

Vin d'Honneur, presenting Carol and Julien to the community

Vin d’Honneur, presenting Carol and Julien to the community

 

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.

Fete du Village, our family, our wine and our neighbors

Fete du Village, our family, our wine and our neighbors

 

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.

agriculture-school-so-much-to-learn

So much to learn!

 

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.)

Henri learns about honeybees from Jean and Micheline, 93 years old

Henri learns about honeybees from Jean and Micheline, 93 years old

 

Preparing for the Big Event.   Days of construction, landscaping, planting, painting…

Carol's new sign for Petit Roque

Carol’s new sign for Petit Roque

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!)

Toilettes seches in progress

Toilettes seches in progress

Toilets on Wedding Day

Toilets on Wedding Day

 

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.

working for the summer music festival, Concert in the tiny Romanesque village of Coubeyrac

working for the summer music festival, concert in the tiny Romanesque village of Coubeyrac

 

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.

Carol's family prepares the wedding arrangements - with wildflowers from our prairies

Carol’s family prepares the wedding arrangements – with wildflowers from our prairies

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!

Flower arrangements for the wedding from our prairies

Flower arrangements for the wedding from our prairies

 

Julien with Henri and Genevieve just before the long walk down the aisle

Julien with Henri and Genevieve, just before the long walk down the aisle

 

The Music Begins.

carol-and-her-father

 

The ceremony

 

 

Just Married. A walk in the vineyard

 

Jumping for Joy

Jumping for Joy

 

 

 

 

And favors for our guests – a special wedding vintage of La Tourbeille…

Wedding Favors, a special vintage of La Tourbeille

Wedding Favors, a special vintage of La Tourbeille for our guests

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8 thoughts on “The Summer of So Much

  • Annie

    Oh Mary, what a wonderful family story!

    J’en ai les larmes aux yeux. Et tu racontes si bien. J’ai l’impression de vivre tout cela avec vous. Que du bonheur à Petit roque.

    A bientôt, peut-être.
    Annie – Brussels

  • Laura Sandifer McGown

    I am thrilled to have the glorious news of La Tourbeille! I just wish that my brother John and Lucie could see all the love and improvement of the property that you done. The Belvedere is a natural for extended wine and food offerings and with such a fabulous view it will be very successful!
    Is a B and B next?
    Congratulations and best wishes to one and all! All the McGowns send LOVE from Texas.

  • Seyller Gisèle

    le reportage est magnifique Mary, beaucoup de bonheur aux jeunes mariés qui sont très beaux, une photo que j’aime beaucoup aussi, Geneviève, Henri et julien , si je reviens en Dordogne, il faudra que je vienne déguster les tapas !!!

  • Helen Garrett

    Love everything about this! Basking in the collective glow of your beautiful (+ expanding) family. And I can’t wait to go to your new restaurant! Besides what looks like delicious food, I hope you’ll be selling bouquets of your very special wildflowers 🙂
    Thank you for sharing the joy.
    Much Love,
    Helen

  • Béatrice ISSERLIS

    tous nos vœux de bonheur aux jeunes époux et félicitations pour cet été si riche en évènement et aventure!… Que diriez vous de venir le week-end du 08-09 octobre pour vendanger avec nous le dimanche 09 octobre? réfléchissez et lundi je vous appelle pour qu’on en parle ensemble. Ce serait bien sympa de vous avoir.

    Love and Kisses

    Béatrice ISSERLIS

  • Christine

    Que de bonheur, arraché à la terre, reçu du ciel, partagé entre vous tous, et nous qui vous lisons!
    Tous nos meilleurs voeux pour les mariés, et pour vous chers amis, nos voeux de bonheur!
    Merci de partager avec nous cette joie, communicative.