Bent double over another stubborn grape vine, I cut my left hand for the sixth time that morning, Jean-Pierre the farm owner appears instantly from nowhere holding out white tape to cover the wound and he disappears as quickly back to the fray! My back in agony, exhausted and coughing with a cold, I look up to try and see the end of my row of grape vines, I can`t see it, but i estimate that it is at least ten miles away, or so it seems! I wonder if I`m being to negative, as always.
“Anglais”…it`s Steve, a big burly French guy with a skinhead requesting my collection of grape, though he doesn’t look quite so tough at the moment, sweat oozing from every pore, his feet torn to pieces by the mountain and the fifty kilos on his back, in fact he looks about ready to cry! Steve became porter by default due to his inability to pick grapes at anything less than three times faster than anyone else, causing problems for the would be porter having to walk miles to catch up with Steve whilst the rest of us drag our feet!
I lunge for my bucket and force my back to uncurl to lift it and it`s all too meager contents. I take a second to look around, it really is beautiful here, others are chatting, singing, laughing. Dion a giant Dutch Pseudo Englishman is quoting British films, a comparatively tiny Dutch guy named Job is repeatedly asking me if “it`s good, huh?” in his quest to reach his goal of saying it 300 times in 24 hours!
Before I can enjoy it all too much Jean-Pierre appears again and starts attacking my row of grape, clearing three bushes before I am able to put my bucket back down. Then I realise that I’ve lost my serrapette, my hook shaped knife for cutting the grape from the plant…is it on the floor, in the bush…absolute panic, I`m already miles behind.
Just then, a quite buzzing and an unintelligible shout in French, I along with all others in the room are awoken as the fluorescent lights hum into action, it`s 6am. I was dreaming of grapes, again! Our room stinks. Beer bottles, clothes, bags and people everywhere!! Time to fill up on bread and jam and coffee. We drive at warp speed to the vineyard with Jean-Pierre, though this time it`s no dream! Pick grape until 6pm or so, shower -hopefully first so it is warm – and eat. Then I try not to be a complete social retard with some really nice people, fall asleep and repeat.
There was some strange pleasure in becoming completely exhausted, in pain with nice people! As I set off after the harvest, almost dropping the bike, saved by Mataas (spelling? and thank you!) and riding off down the road I realised three things, it was super, I was really tired and I should have appreciated it more at the time.
But it’s great to be back on the bike!
Click the image to view the photos from grape picking!
Grape pickers can download these images, small size HERE