It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.
And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…
…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):
– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.
Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here. The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):
…the local pools have shut their gates:
– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:
…get ready for some WORK!
Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air. The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.
And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays. I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here. In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer. Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September. And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc. This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’. I know I’m rambling. Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.
Anyway, back to the grapes. The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier. As for how this year’s harvest will be? It’s looking good so far – relief! The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!
It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7. Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice. Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October. And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…