Season’s End 9

Dordogne River from our hilltop 

Season’s end.

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, neighbours gatherTaverne 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. 

Taverne sign at night

Glowing in the dark

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. 

Farmhouse in October Moonlight, village lights beyond



Taverne – last lights



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9 thoughts on “Season’s End


    Beautiful. I feel like I just spent a few minutes enjoying La Tourbeille allover again, complete with snorts and hoots of unknown animals.

  • Thomas Lawrence Long

    Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
    Assise auprès du feu, devisant et filant,
    Direz chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant :
    Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

    Lors vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
    Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
    Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
    Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

    Je serai sous la terre, et, fantôme sans os,
    Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos ;
    Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

    Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
    Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain ;
    Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

    –Pierre de Ronsard

  • Bernadette Engelstad

    Thank you, Mary, for bringing us along for such a lovely walk, bringing summer to a close, awaiting the reverie of winter nights!

  • Mary Borba

    Such lovely images–I think these need to become part of a book. Your stories have a way of transporting us someplace almost magical!

  • Carol Egelston

    Oh my, this is such wonderful writing. We have been fortunate enough to be some of those summer visitors to the warm embrace of this family. We are glad the weeks of hustle and work of the harvest are done and you can rest. Fondly, Carol and Jim Egelston

  • jacomin

    Bonjour à la famille Sandifer,
    Bravo pour ce formidable aperçu de votre vie, que Mary réussit à rendre si poétique et léger!
    Nous pensons à vous et voguons dans votre sillage sur un tapis volant.
    Bon courage, nous vous espérons en forme!
    Christine & Jean Claude