cabanons and uteri.
The grapes opposite our house clearly do not merit the manual care of real pickers paid 3 euros an hour for back-breaking work. Not for us the little red buckets punctuating the rows and the chatter of folk far from home, the human touch. No, our grapes are not destined for anything grand and we get a huge blue metallic vulva driving into the crop, raping the plants of their shiny fruit and taking them down to the co-op.
“Would you consider it a possibility for us to put our sacks of hemp in the little cabanon opposite?” asked Julian of the proprieter as he surveyed the work.
“No, it would collapse.” He replied curtly.
The ‘cabanon’ is, unfortunately, a rather ugly structure belonging to the hamlet, which obliterates the vine-view from the recently acquired glass gallery doors framed in cool grey metal. Originally made of stone, the cabanon would have been like all the other small farm buildings – a place to store materials. Now such pieces sell to Paris weekenders in search of a room with a view, and the attendant 2CV. The farmers are pissing themselves. In order to ‘conserve’ ours, someone has put slabs of concrete on the top and along the sides and painted ‘Non au parc régional’ all over it. Inside there is a decrepit seventies ‘rando car’ sporting fading orange and brown stripes which belongs to a friend of a friend and which he will not move unless we can find the old Renault something, ‘années soixante-dix’, whose tow-thingy fits. It’s an eyesore indeed. Recently we asked the proprietor if we could rent or buy it and a small apron of land around in which to grown herbs. He said no.
I offered the blokes a coffee as I walked out at eight in the morning with my beautiful blue-grey artisanal bowl of pick-me-up just pulled from the chrome Pavoni.
“You should be drinking ‘ving’” one of them said, with the Provençal twang on wine, as a ton of grapes plopped into the vat.
“Later,” I responded desperately trying to cope with the hangover from the night before.
We chewed the fat. He told me about his organised trips every summer to Bath with a busload of Provençal o.a.p.’s, and I said how much I appreciated being here and to be reminded every day about nature etcetera. We agreed on how, if you live in a city and all you see is a concrete building (humph) out your window every day, you could not have things in quite the same perspective.
“You know” he continued “everybody lives with their brains not their hearts these days and eats with their eyes and not their taste. Grapes have to be so big to look good in the supermarket, but you know the small wrinkly ones….”
We nodded sagely together. And that was when it happened: The great big metallic blue vulva crashed into the cabanon and the stones fell into the field. Unfortunately the concrete stayed put.
We shrugged and I drove off to my appointment at the bank, which was scheduled for “Whenever you come for the ping” (the Provençal pronunciation of bread), and to buy chanterelles and ceps, lemons and chillies.
From the market I went to the gyne for a routine smear test which they call a 'frotti' (EEouw) and watched the technicolour image of my uterus on the TV screen.
"Your uterus is very pretty" said the gyne as he picked up another cigarette ready to light as soon as I had dressed, paid and closed the door behind me.