Tuesday, September 26, 2006

from Paris, via Pierrerue...

I am spent. The intense days at the vineyard (see posts below) were a high, for sure, despite the round the clock watching, listening, writing, photo editing. But now I am spent.

I have a day before I need to be back in Paris, but I want to leave this wonderful family alone already. The change in weather has reinvigorated the vineyards. I hear trucks rumbling to and from the fields constantly. At the Chateau de Lascaux as well, the pace quickens. Jean-Benoit is giving the fields a day to dry off, but there is work to be done elsewhere. The intensity of the vendange is suddenly palpable.

Monday noon, I finish my last post, pack my computer and resolutely load up my very tiny “Smart” car. Jean-Benoit rushes over to say good bye. He makes sure traffic is stopped at the bend in the road so that I can do a u-turn and head back. Helpful to the very last second.

So what now? I head for home, Pierrerue, deep in the belly of the Languedoc.

It’s not really home. I lived there for only three weeks this June. But I want to return nonetheless. I want to be like the mother who visits her child season after season, simply to note changes and hear that sweet voice of a younger one..

And if I am searching for a calm, for an equilibrium to take hold, I'll include a stop by the sea.

I'm smitten with the beaches here, in the Languedoc. Like everything about the province, they are without fuss. I park the car by a stretch of sand, I step out the door and my feet are on the warm golden crystals.

Just three weeks into September, the beaches are empty.

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Sure, there is the idle fisherman sitting, waiting for something to happen. I wait with him. Nothing happens.

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I play with my new camera, I make footprints in the sand.

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I admit it. I miss the harvest and the vineyards. I miss the sounds, I miss the smell of day-two juice.

Move on. No fish in the bucket, no room for nostalgia.

I pick up the road to St. Chinian and its baby village, Pierrerue. Hello vineyards. I knew you when you were throwing infant leaves out. Look at you now!

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I’m hungry. I am nearing my destination, but I am remembering that Pierrerue offers no eateries. But the Chat qui Peche does, right there, besides the Canal du Midi.

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The waiter stares at me. You were here last spring! You’re Polish, right? Remember? I am too.
Oh, I do remember. It's just that I am having trouble with the "friendly to the outside world" switch. Still, I ask about his summer at the Cat who goes Fishing.

Too hot, that’s for sure.
You have so many flies here now! Why?
It’s the harvest. The trucks drop grapes, the flies like the juice.

Hmmm, Vacquieres didn’t have flies. Pierrerue doesn’t have flies. Perfect villages clearly do not attract flies.

Pierrerue, I love you, Pierrerue, I love you. A song to the forgotten one, the one left for
its perfect cousin up in northern Languedoc.

Pierrerue is pouting. The sun hides behind a cloud as I stand facing it, there halfway up the hill.

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I pass the house of the artist whose paintings now hang on my loft brick walls. I hesitate. If I knock on her door, I will have to stay a while. But my mind is still unsettled, full of harvest thoughts. I am spinning with images from Chateau de Lascaux vineyards. I pause the car, my foot vacillates between the gas and the brake, finally resting gently on the gas.

A few more glances at the familiar hills and I push forward. I will overnight further south. I need space from the familiar.

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I eat a meal alone, for the first time since coming to France. I need the quiet before I turn north and then northwest.

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In the morning, I speed to Montpellier, buy my croissant and café crème for the train and turn toward Paris, with a last wave to the vineyards of Languedoc. They were meant for sunny skies and this morning they are getting them.

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