New season : so time to pull the wood, again..

A year has turned since this blog began. The frosts return. The wood pullers are in the vineyards again, pruning and pulling last years dead wood. One winter we were the woodpullers, and these are my memories.

Tirer les Bois

White sky above, frozen earth below,
Parellels vernacular, stake and vine,
Shrill cry of hawk, circling high,
Tendrils entwine, resisting demise,
Soft notes of voice, drift by and by,
“On va tirer les bois”, “Let’s pull wood”.

Tirer les Bois

Boots on, warm coat and hat, heavy duty garden gloves, then brave the cold, and wet of January. For the season of ‘pulling the wood’ has begun.

The pruner has left, but prepared my way. He has cut the vine, left two short spurs. But canes hang limp, while tendrils clasp to their wire support.

Start at the first vine, first row. Work one vine at a time. Grab the wood and pull, take one step, grab the wood and pull. My back soon aches, the vine slaps, my face stings, clay mud sticks to my boots, so I can hardly move. How many vines in a row? How many rows in a yard?

The sun breaks, warms my limbs, hat off, then coat. Time is swallowed in rhythm and quiet. Distraction come with sounds on breeze, a birdsong, a car engine, a voice somewhere. One more, and one more, then it’s done. Shake off mud, shake off work, time to trek home.

Tirer les Bois

I have shared poems from one of the first posts on this blog, with this winters frost.

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La Cheminée

I awake to a bright light streaming in through the window. I rise and glance out. The world is white, and I smile, happy. In the kitchen, I place a log in the stove, watch it spark into flame, and I smile, happy. I put the kettle on the hob, then switch on the radio. The kettle sings, so I make a cup of tea. I sip my tea, thank life for today, and I smile, happy.

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There is no equivalent word for ‘home’ in french. Instead, home is where the ‘fireplace’ is;

Je rentre au foyer
I return to the fireplace
Home.

The old fireplace, or la Cheminée, constructed and carved in stone.
The old fireplace, la Cheminée, or Foyer, constructed and carved in stone.


Heureux qui,comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage
by Joachim Du Bellay (1522-1560)

Happy he whom, as Ulysse, has made a beautiful voyage,
Or as he who has conquered the ‘Golden Fleece,
And then returned, full of manner and reason,
To live between his kin the rest of his age!

When will I see again, my little village,
The chimney smoke, and in which season,
When will I see again the enclosure of my poor abode,
Which is my shire, and even more?

I like more this ancestral building,
Than the audacious Roman palaces,
More than the hard marble, I love the fine slate:

More my gaulois Loire, than the latin Tiber,
More my little Liré, than the Mount Palatin,
And more than the sea winds, the sweetness of Anjou.

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La Galette des Rois : Kings cake

It is the twelfth day of Christmas, the baubles are taken down from the tree, and the family is slightly sad. However, there is one last celebration, for it is the day to call the Three Kings to witness baby Jesus in the stable, ‘ l’Epiphanie.’ So, they will share, and eat of La Galette des Rois ( Kings cake ).

Sylvie, Thomas and Sophie wait impatiently for the hour of ‘goûter’, the four o’clock ‘taste’. Maman has bought the Kings cake, and it sits at the centre of the table. Sugary, flaky layers of pastry, and sticky frangipan in the middle. On top of the cake sits a golden paper crown, studded with red and green gems. Hidden inside is ‘la féve’, a tiny porcelain figurine. Who, or what will it be, and who shall find it? And who will wear the crown?

For once, Sophie is happy to be the smallest, for she is called by Maman to hide under the table, and call out the one who will have the first slice of cake, “Tomas”, next “Papa”, then “Silvie”, then “Maman”, and finally, “Moi”!

Out from under the table, she is handed her plate, carrying her slice. With mischievous glances at one another, each bites cautiously, and peer into their cake. Nothing. Another bite. Nothing. And yet another bite. Suddenly Sylvie squeals, “Elle et pour moi!” She points at her cake, and there it is, a little star. On it is painted a tiny red brown fox with a bushy tail, and yellow dots as stars. Sylvie is delighted, and holds it up for all to see.

Ceremoniously Maman takes the golden crown, and lays it on Sylvie’s head, for she has been elected the Queen of the day, and she will have, whatever she wants!

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‘La Galette des Rois’ will be shared between family, friends, and colleagues, from l’Epiphanie to the eve before Lent..

Winter white flowers

Winter white flowers
soft snowflakes reminisce
new year bliss.

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In winter deep
toward the sky
the snowdrops reach.

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Bringing happiness, the snow hyacinth is the first flower to bloom in our garden. Its perfume is heady, though we must kneel down to recieve.

Dear Daphne,
your heart of innocence
in all honesty
is sweetness divine.

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