September Harvest in Provence
The mornings are crisp all of a sudden. The days are still hot. The harvest, of just about everything, is in full swing. I went for a walk and followed the smell of a skip full to the brim of grape skins before I stepped into the leaking juice running down the road. At the Coteaux d’Aix wine harvest festival in Lambesc- there are grapes between my toes as I hold my linen market dress up and squeal. Afterward, a seventy-year-old paysan cleans my feet with Savon de Marseille.
I’m fighting a losing battle as I try to make a sauce out of the kilos and kilos of tomatoes that are unhappy on my hot kitchen counter. Between batches, sweating in my kitchen, I only have a moment to reflect. Pesto needs to be made and I’m not sure how much money I should spend on the pine nuts. The locals relax at the markets; they have more time to talk. They’ve either made their money for the year during the month of August or have accepted that it won’t be made. The tourists didn’t buy as much.
As I drive by the local roundabout I smile as I notice an older woman pinching the olives on the trees there. She and a couple friends will be raking them off the branches within a few weeks. There isn’t any waste. I’m eyeing up the black husks hanging off the wrangled almond trees in the field down the road. I’ve already seen people on bikes picking from the lower branches. I’ve planted my beets and my leeks and the borage has re-seeded. I had no idea it would create such an expansive sea of mauve flowers.
I’ve started to drink red wine in the evenings. I’m actually looking forward to the cooler months where my Canadian bones (while blaming the whipping wind of the Mistral instead of the snow) will hide under a quilt with a good book and a cup of tea. Soon the leaves on the grapevines will change colour and the French women will start wearing their elegant Autumn boots. September in Provence.
What preserves have you made this year? What were your bumper crops?