01 October 2005

When my weeks are packed tighter than my bags...

There were no dead birds today.

When I swept the narrow courtyard behind Lucia's office - sweeping being part of the weekly trash & recycling gig - there is usually a lone dead bird, laying amongst the detritus fallen from the tower crenellation above. Back in the far corner of the courtyard, the various droppings and debris, and perhaps a lone dead pigeon mingles in my senses with the smell of the aging prosciutto legs hanging in a room nearby. It can get a bit pungent, though by now, it's a familiar smell, and nearly comforting. Nearly.

No bird suicides this week, though. It's been too beautiful for such nonsense.

Cool mornings, when the fog clings to the hills and wraps around the olive trees, have given way to warm afternoons, those dressed in that orange Tuscan glow and with a visibility beyond the rooftops of Siena. Sweater weather is upon us. Is anyone else wondering how it is October already?

We were lucky to have such amazing weather this week; it is Vendemmia, or grape harvest, at Spannocchia. I was told as much Sunday night, upon my arrival back at the farm after a weekend away at Cinque Terre. Got back from a full weekend, and stumbled into my fullest week here yet (and it just wont end - I have weekend duty...).

Monday brought a full day of work - our usual afternoon Italian class and educational presentation were cancelled as grapes took precedent. Rumor had it that rain might be on the way for later in the week, which would likely worsen a mold (mould, Bruce) problem in the vineyards, and reduce our grape crop this year, so the pressure was really on to complete the Vendemmia. Snip, snip, snip it was in the vineyard, a labor that brought most of the Spannocchia workforce out together in the fields, a really nice change from the norm.

Bilingual conversations streamed forth, as did song, and squeals when spiders or wasps fled the grape clusters we held in our hands. Fingers turned purple and sticky. My knees grew tired. Our orange buckets filled quickly as we traversed the rows in a buddy system: one person on either side, no row left uncut. We were joined in the vineyard by a photography class on Monday, and a painting group on Tuesday. On Wednesday, gray clouds rolled in just before lunch, and so we picked up the pace, dodging the raindrops that began to fall. It poured rain while we were inside eating, but the sun was out an hour later, the normal start of the afternoon work period. We waited a short time for the moisture to evaporate, and then were back out. My shoes formerly known as Gore Tex champions now get wet in the morning (and afternoon) dew, and I've taken to wearing (and LOVING) tall Wellies. Can't wait to add some to the ol' shoe collection.

In the three and a half days of Vendemmia, we harvested four types of grapes total - two white, the primary one being Trebbiano, and two red, the primary one being Sangiovese. There are other assorted grapes growing at Spannocchia that are used for eating and cooking, we found out on Thursday, when we had the Vendemmia pranzo. This special lunch celebrated the harvest in general and the close of our harvesting work specifically. Two long tables were set up outside for all us purple-stained staff. We ate fried polenta slices topped with gorgonzola cheese, vegetarian lasagne, cabbage with olives (some of the best cabbage I have had ever...), beef cooked with fragolina grapes ("little strawberries"), salad, and schiacciata con l'uva - a traditional Tuscan flat cake with grapes baked in it. These were courses of food, by the way, not things offered in a buffet. Whew! Red and white wines were passed, along with fresh pressed grape juice. A Tuscan glutton, I continue to overeat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting about life. Would you pass on to the love of my life that I miss the 10 oclocks. I called the house a couple of times and then remembered I took the love of my life to the airport. Love her and will see her soon.

5:35 PM  

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