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To come to a decision. On Turning the Page of our vineyard dream


Four years ago, I thought we had finally put down our anchor--that our grandkids would eat these figs that Smokey and I were  harvesting here in the Land of Milk and Honey. Jean-Marc can better give you the reasons for wanting to move. Until then, today's letter answers some of those questions you may be having.

TODAY'S WORD: parvenir à une décision

    : to come to a decision

ECOUTEZ - Listen to me pronounce today's word: Download Parvenir-decision

On n'est pas encore parvenu à une décision finale.
We have not yet come to a final decision.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse

Ever since Jean-Marc admitted that he no longer had the energy to farm and that he wanted to sell our vineyard and turn the page--and ever since my first reaction (Non!!!) I have been struck by the number of coincidences in favor of a move.

First, our children's response. "This place is too big for you, Mom. You don't want to live all alone up in this secluded area. And Papa is tired..."

Their last point is the only reason I would consider moving. The other points can be argued: our home is 180 square meters, or 1800 square feet. That's not too big, is it? As far as being alone in a secluded area--I'm too busy learning about permaculture--or natural gardening--to notice the downside of too much land. I may also have been too busy to notice how behind I've fallen on weeding. When I look out over the wild garden and see how unruly everything has become...a greater realization comes to mind. Apart from several technical decisions to do with planting the vines, Jean-Marc and I now know what went wrong with our property and our home: we spread ourselves too thin. We never got the help we needed. And we are not in our 30s anymore.

Imagine two middle-aged people stepping out of their hillside farmhouse each morning. Jean-Marc heads down to the vines, spends hours watering amidst the heatwave. I grab my broom and begin emptying the house of so much trekked in dirt. Looking up, I get distracted by the spiderwebs (which somehow make their way back inside each week) until I see an overflowing bowl of kitchen scraps, pick them up and take them up to the orchard and vegetable garden, behind our mas....

There at the base of the forest, my eyes dart left and right, making sure a family of sangliers, or wild pigs with sharp horns, isn't noshing on our saffron ready to charge at me for surprising them all. Coast is clear. I begin to pull weeds, harvesting berries as I go for a "breakfast on the run". I've forgotten my pruning shears, way back at the house, so make a mental note to cut down the overgrown fennel--until I see a tree that desperately needs watering. But Jean-Marc has the main hose....

Off I go to another project, hanging out the laundry. I trek back down the hill, stopping inside the house and trekking in more dirt. Filling the laundry basket, I head back out to the line, and hang it all to dry. My eyes sweep over "Kristi's vineyard," planted on the terrace below my clothesline, by Jean-Marc and Max's friends two years ago. The ground is parched and several vines have shriveled up. I hurry to the house, grab a 10-liter watering can and return to the lower terrace to dart from one thirsty vine to the next. The sweaty effort is a drop in the bucket.

This brings us to our faulty planning and to biting off more than we could ever chew. If we were to start over again, I would have grown my own garden organically--from the front porch outwards. Instead, I have peppers down in Kristi's vineyard, blueberries  over by the new deck, and--continuing up to the forest behind the house--a sprawl of other plants and pollinators--everything from avocado trees to honey bees (the hives, located higher up in the forest, are Jean-Marc's project).

My multi-level garden (sounds glorious but imagine a parched hillside) and our old farmhouse keep me busy with spurts of ineffective efforts, in spite of trying different schedules ("water and care for the front yard in the morning--and the back yard in the evening. And, for the farmhouse, thoroughly clean one room each day"). This all looks good on paper until things get into the way (or I get lazy).

A car with German license plates is slowly pulling up our driveway, attracted by the giant sign down by the side of the road ("Wine. Olive oil. Honey. CLOSED"). I already know the question: "Can we buy some honey?" (or wine or olive oil). And my answer still hasn't changed, We're not ready yet. On a bad day I want to scream: Can't you read the sign. FERME. CLOSED! Instead I smile, and watch as the car tries to back out of our driveway, zigzagging back and forth, running over the prickly pear cactus and taking a few branches of lilac with it. A familiar scene that is, when all is said and done, comical to see.
By now the illiterate visitors have mowed down the poor cactus and the lilac is but a shadow of what it once was. More help. Better planning. 30-year-old bodies. What else will it take to change Jean-Marc's mind and convince him to stay here ("The Land of Milk and Honey," as I called it when we moved here four years ago)? I'm no longer sure that convincing my husband is the answer. As for turning the page, Circumstance seems to be doing that for us.

The-original-farmhouse (2)

First photo taken before the previous owner restored the mas, or farmhouse. Second photo taken at a wine-tasting here last year, when the lilac was in bloom.

RELATED POSTS: Click on the titles to read the posts

Is Jean-Marc Single? Can I Buy Your Home?

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of our Vineyard dream. (Story here).

Moving to Mexico: To Fly with One's Own Wings. (Story here).

The Previous Move Which Brought us Here to The Sea near Bandol....

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If you missed the delicious tomato tart recipe, find it here.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety