Saturday, September 5, 2015

Grapeageddon, our second vendange



Eh, oui. It is that time of year. 

One of the gorgeous aspects of this house we rent in Provence is its courtyard, half of which is dominated by a giant olive tree, the other through an ancient vine that snakes over a wrought iron trellis. Both provide glorious dappled shade, a precious commodity during this past blaze of a summer.

And while that sun often taunted me into hiding behind closed shutters, it certainly did an enormous amount of good for both the olives - which are looking splendid - and the clusters of hanging grapes that glowed like edible chandeliers. 

I remember that the owner of the house had said that the vine is fruitful every other year or so. Last autumn we had been so disappointed when the grapes turned into mildewed globs practically overnight. The harvest then was easy, smelly but easy. Remi extended his trusty trimmer and I was on clean-up crew.

However, this year, well, of course, we wanted to save as much as we could but it was time they came down, not only as they were perfectly ripe but the bees were starting to eat more than we were. So today was the day. Some inner voice suggested that I put on an old t-shirt and Remi blocked off the area from the dogs as grapes are not good for their livers, no matter how much they love the taste.

I rolled open a grocery bag and extended my arms, trying my best to catch the mana from heaven as it rained down, pelting my face, my hands and the pavement. And how I laughed while doing so. It was ridiculous and by the end I looked - if you will excuse me for saying so - rather like a giant had used me for a handkerchief. We recuperated enough grapes so that Remi will be able to make a second go with his jelly, this time promising to actually stir the agar-agar so that we are not stuck with ten pots of rather delicious sauce for ice-cream.

As I am typing, I can see the last rays of the sunset reflecting off of the building en face, the one that they call "Le Chateau" and perhaps it is. As I told Remi earlier today after la vendange was finished, I feel lighter. There is less literally hanging over-head, just the promise of my favorite season in front of me and more importantly, that of some incredibly important visitors arriving within the week.

Let autumn in.








Ps. For my fellow antiques lovers - and I know that you are many - my friend Ellie is having a phenomenal sale at her shop on Have Some Decorum. I honestly don't know how she finds such exceptional pieces, many are finer than anything that I have seen during fourteen years of antiquing in France. Her readers are chomping at the bit so much may be already sold when you see this but if you are interested, then by all means quickly click: Here.


Happy Labor Day Weekend to those of you that are celebrating...and happy Happy to everyone else...


28 comments:

  1. You had me at Grapeageddon .. and that's what great writers do .. Keep On Keepin' On, Heather .. between you and Kristin Espinasse, the south of France is getting "lit up like a Christmas Tree" with Girl Power Creativity !

    Mahalo et Merci,
    Bill

    www.kauai-to-paris.com

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    1. To put me in the same boat as Kristi is quite a compliment Bill. Merci beaucoup...for that and for your being such a good egg...

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  3. Agree with Bill, and also, "... and the clusters of hanging grapes that glowed like edible chandeliers" is one of my favorite written images ever — no photographs needed, though those are as gorgeous as your prose. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons as well, though I do miss the longer days, I love the cooler nights. Enjoy your visitors!

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    1. I am so excited I can barely breathe!! And thank you for the compliment...

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  5. It's the dream really... It's why people want to move there. But how on earth did I miss your post on your house last year?!?! It's bloody marvellous. Genial!

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    1. Thank you Naomi but we don't own it!! We are just lucky to rent it while we can... :)

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  6. One of my first purchases in Italy was an OLIVE COMB to bring the harvest down out of the tree..........I wonder what I did with that?This reminds me so much OF the harvesting of the olives in CHIANTI were we lived............they would place nets under the trees..........
    GORGEOUS PHOTOS.
    Four more sleeps...............XO

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    1. Well, we need to start looking for an olive comb because the olive tree is next up! But we still have time yet...
      And she will arrive on Friday!!!

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  7. Congratulations on your second vendange, Heather!! And, as so often is the case, I want to echo Judith's above comment about your written (and photographic) images, as well as autumn. Have a wonderful week with your visitors (did I miss your writing about their coming?)...it will be six days at Wallowa Lake for us, starting Monday.
    Love to all, Leslie in Oregon

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    1. We live in Kirkland, Washington part of the year these days and a road trip to Wallowa Lake (and a night or two at the old lodge there) are among the highlights of our road trips in the Northwest - have a great time!

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    2. Oh how funny that you both love the same lake! Now come on that is a coincidence of the internet, non?? ;)

      I hope you are having a great time Leslie and are...disconnected!

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  8. O, the sweet summer and its blessings, the fun way of saying farewell.

    I can envision breakfast of warm croissants with jelly, cheese and a cup of coffee. Is that a regular French breakfast?

    What else do you canned during summer?


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    1. Hmmm...Definitely not the cheese in most homes and usually croissants are only for the weekends or when we have guests! I think that a bit of baguette with butter and jam is pretty common - and TONS of coffee too. Although I am a tea girl myself.

      Well, I am so disappointed because we should be canning tomato sauce right now but a virus ripped through the community garden and we lost so much!! We have done an organic treatment and hope to save a few...

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  9. Great photos. Gorgeous writing. And a good job done. The autumn light will be a little softer for you now.
    You will be fairly counting the hours for your Mum's arrival!
    Grape jelly sounds like something to look forward to!
    Enjoy your new opened up courtyard!
    Cheers,
    Deborah - Melbourne

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    1. Merci Deborah. The light is definitely starting to shift and it is such a relief I can't tell you - although I know that you are no stranger to heat! And yes, I am really, really happy about my Mom and Leonard's impending arrival... :)

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  10. We have our first olive harvest this fall and like La Contessa, the olive combs were one of our first items in Greece. Nothing like watching the seasons change on that side of the pond, Heather.

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    1. Isn't it true Jackie? And I hope that your olive harvest is first so that I can watch then copy you!!

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  11. Edible chandeliers. That image is, well... delicious!

    and of course you will keep us posted on the grape jelly -- REAL grape jelly -- won't you?

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    1. Oh I am so glad that phrase gets your approval - I nearly cut it for fear of cheesiness!

      And I think that Remi outdid himself on the jelly...will keep you posted...

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  12. I love our local grapes and can't stop eating them. It's the only think about September that I look forward to. We are far from autumn here. It has been terribly hot again but thunderstorms are on the forecast. So fingers crossed ...

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    1. Loree you always have to suffer through the heat for longer than we do and I am sorry for it! The temperature has been much cooler as of late and I feel like I can finally think again!

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  13. How beautiful, and grape jelly at the end of it! Such a beautiful time of the year in France, sometimes I think it would be perfect to live in Autumn all year round. Enjoy, my friend. xx

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    1. I completely agree, Tracy...it is by far my favorite season!

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  14. Such a lovely post, Heather. We don't have any vines a la maison but they surround our hamlet. Today, on our walk, Remy spied the huge bunches hanging and tried very hard to taste some before mean old Maman pulled him away. He has his fill of fruit in three seasons from the cherry, plum, apple, quince, and pear trees inside our garden and out, not to mention the wild blackberries ready now. He is a fruit hound!

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    1. Aren't our boys crazy?! Kipling has been called The Strawberry Thief for a very good reason and Ben loves apricots! But I think that Remy has them beat!!! ;)

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  15. I guess it really just is my place to be the blog world's lush always with the alcoholic suggestions. Buuuuut make cocktails with that thin grape syrup! I don't know what these grapes taste like so I can't be sure what exactly to suggest. I love the way you write! Good call keeping the dogs roped off. I was working a lot at the salon this weekend on non-client projects. One of which was cleaning the floor (a good hands and knees clean). I created a barricade across the interior door and left Barbie on the rug in my small reception area. Which is where she prefers to lounge as she can patrol both the salon and the front door and street. That is, until she *can't* get in the salon. Then it's the only place she wants to be. As I'm cleaning facing a corner, I hear a swoosh and nails gripping a wet floor. She fox-jumped my tall barricade with ease and landed gracefully on a wet floor. I made the fence taller and repositioned her on the other side. I had accidentally created a fun new game. Hopefully your borders were more secure than mine!

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