first day of the vendage
It was a balmy day of butterscotch and honey but we were nervous.
First we had to confront our terrace maker, now that he has finished his wall.
The walls around here, unlike those in the next village, are all cobbled together higgledy-piggledy with reddish rounded stones, red local sand and lime.
“Could you build us a wall like this please?” we said pointing to the wall of our house. “No concrete, no cement.”
“Ah yes. à l’ancien, With pleasure.” He answered.
The wall now in front of our house is neat and gleaming as a child’s row of teeth, with white sand and white stone from Crillon-le-Brave. However, we have decided to accept it as it was made with care, even if over a very long period of time. However, on Friday, we returned home to find someone we had never seen pouring cement on the ground and plunging stones into it.
‘We said no cement!’ I almost screamed.
‘My boss said ‘rustique’ he replied.
I got my neighbour over to confer. When it rains, he agreed, the water has nowhere to go and will run around the terrace, whereas with lime and sand the rain will be soaked up and then released back into the atmosphere. Not only that but the earth can’t breathe through the cement.
Julian was not ‘d’accord’, especially on a Sunday, but I summoned Monsieur Reymond. His reaction was surprising:
“I pay this man 15 euros an hour. This is not right. We will have to start again. It has to go. It must be lime and only lime. That is how it is done.”
On to the next nerve racking experience: The first meeting with our psychologist. As we drove along the windy road towards Vaison la Romaine, watching the brushed yellowing poplars flirtatiously revealing their underbellies in the breeze and the vines turning aubergine, we couldn’t help but relax. In the session, we glowed with love and good health.
We now know we have a yes vote from our wonderful social worker who will meet us for the last time on Wednesday and suddenly, with our second and third appointments booked with the ‘psy’ for Thursday, we are almost there! We almost have our agreement to adopt!
This good news called, naturally, for lunch, which we had in Gigondas under a plane tree where, over too rare calves liver, we discussed another source of excitement: the possibility that we may be able to rent some land from a neighbour.
I had heard, by asking a loitering peasant on my run, that Mme Eveyline was ‘beaucoup riche’ and that she rented land to a woman in the village to grow sunflowers and veg, That afternoon I walked straight up to Mmme Eveyline’s grey-blue door in the prettiest hamlet for miles and put forward my proposal. It turned out that not only had her hamlet been in the family for years, but that ours had too, and that only for lack of heirs on that side of the family, it had been sold ‘à la bougie’ to the family that have now let it run to ruin. Touched, I think, by our desire to save at least our little piece of her history, she said she would see what she could do.
After lunch we made a visit, via a favourite tree of Julian’s, to a vineyard where the empassioned Yves Gras smoothed his palm over the oak barrels and showed us the little imperfections in the grain.
“These are smooth and round like a woman’s body, and these marks here are like her stretch marks. Beautiful.”
We went away with too many boxes of Côtes du Rhone Quatre Terres loaded on back seat of the mini, soaking up the amber autumnal rays.
A siesta, a painting , a few hours researching Malian babies, and the planting of a wisteria later, six years exactly after we lost our baby, here we are. Though I will have no stretch marks to speak of, we seem to be on our way to a terraced family garden life.