John’s hands are stained from pumpovers and “brassage des lies.” Fermentation finished. A relief – fermentation is finicky business. And now we see the extra work in the vineyard paid off; the vintage shows promise. A few worries ticked off the list.
October mornings: newly crisp air and fog wisps above the valley. Afternoons: cold water swim and last caress of summer sun. Night fall: early.
John on the tanks – brassage des lies
Season’s end brings changes to our nightly walk. First the winery, to bed down the wine. Embrace each tank, intending the adolescent liquid into deliciousness. Then we embrace each other and the dog for good measure.
We make our way along the forest edge at moonrise. Silence, but for the crunch of acorns underfoot. From the woods come snorts and hoots of startled animals. In the dark they lose their names and become strange to us.
Along the lane to the Taverne, through oak trees and night. The darkness calls to mind a recurring dream of wandering lost in old forests where wild things lurk in the shadows.
After a bend in the road, the forest ends. First glimpse of the Taverne. Light emerges. Windows glow. Smoke rises from a chimney. Sounds of laughter, music, dishes clinking. The smell of warmth, the smell of food. The scent of welcome.
Taverne last night of the season
The Taverne is filled with neighbours; last night of the season. It has been a summer rich with visitors. Hearts have benefitted as much as the local economy. We raise a beer to bonhomie and bask in the gold of a crackling fire.
When our glasses are drained we bid farewell to the local folk and the cheerful light of refuge. The Taverne will sleep for winter. I shall find it sad, this beacon gone dark, but even welcome-places need to take rest.
Retracing our steps along the woods, we catch the lights of the village below, reflections dancing on the river. And there at the end of the road, emerging from the forest dark, the moon rises above a roof. Light glows through farmhouse windows. There are smells of food and chimney smoke, a primitive sensing of warmth and shelter ahead. A dog barks in the yard, keeping deer and boar at bay.
We haven’t lived in this hilltop house for many years, and once in a while I wonder how long it will take for this dwelling to really feel like home. We step into the glow and anticipate hot soup. Faithful to his post, the dog asks no such question.