Now that two months have passed since my last update, I think it’s safe to say I have more than could ever be written to tell you all about. In order to break it down manageably, I’ll give you updates in pieces. I always liked suspense.
For all of August and September I was living at Chateau La Garde and interning there in the vineyard and cellar. I survived the four-day harvest for white grapes and the two-week harvest for reds (and I mean two full weeks, weekends included). Maybe without my sanity or any sleep, but harvest makes one big family out of people who normally just work nine to five hours. More on harvest later, it takes a lot of concentration to dig that far back in my memory and at the moment I’m distracted by the smell of my homemade, simmering spaghetti sauce on the stove.
The homemade spaghetti sauce is key to where I am currently. In my little apartment on the fourth floor of a building in the big city; Lyon, France. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings there is a fresh produce market on my street where farmers from the countryside around Lyon bring their veggies and fruits at pretty good prices. One of my favorite farmers (who I always buy my apples from for my apple pies) gave me a discount on tomatoes yesterday morning and I couldn’t say no. Hence, the homemade spaghetti sauce currently simmering on my stove. And then, of course, I had to get some fresh parsley, cinnamon, potatoes, yesterday’s bread from the baker, and ground beef for the meatballs. My French roommates are never sure what I am making, or what they are eating for that matter, but I think they are just happy that they won’t have to cook again for the foreseeable future with me around.
I have been in Lyon for almost two weeks now, taking classes about viticulture and marketing in the wine industry and touring some of the wine regions of eastern France. Burgundy is hilly with more dairy farms than I expected to see, Beaujolais has vast, sweeping valleys of vineyards, and Cotes-du-Rhone has some of the steepest, most interesting terrace work I have seen. All of the wines are as different as night and day. The Beaujolais Nouveau is young, fresh, and exotic but they also have some outstanding Crus that I was not expecting. Burgundy never disappoints in the variety and uniqueness of reds or whites and Cotes-du-Rhone remains my favorite for an aged, toasted, oaky red. The city of Lyon is an adventure in itself. It is the third largest city in France after Paris and Marseille and has a beautiful old section with a network of pedestrian streets and small shops that I don’t mind losing myself in. The city is split into three sections because of two rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, running through it. There is a large park in the northern end of my side of the city called the Parc de la Tete d’Or. This has quickly become my favorite spot in the city, possibly because of the existence of a small zoo within its borders. On chilly October afternoons the park is quiet and I enjoy sitting on a bench next to the reindeer field and reading a book. I have yet to explore all of it so a full description will have to wait.
Paris is only two hours away by train and last weekend I met up with my good friend Kristen, from Cornell, for a whirlwind twenty-four hours of site seeing. She is currently studying in Rome and will be my travel partner for our three week European adventure after we both finish our programs in the middle of December. We stopped in at the Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower. And, of course, tasted a bit of French cuisine throughout the day, finishing with crepes after the 700 stair climb at the Tower.
Going back to the end of August, I had another reunion with two very special people. Mom and Grandpa Dave came to visit for one week in between harvests and got an idea of life in France. We spent the last weekend in Normandy visiting the D-Day beaches and stayed in a lovely old stone house with an English couple who have a never-ending supply of hilarious stories about the British military. We spent our last day in the Loire Valley visiting Chateau de Cheverny and picnicking French style with goat cheese, duck pate, and baguettes.
My spaghetti sauce is almost done and the meatballs are practically jumping out of the pan so I’ll save all of the details from harvest, Lyon explorations, quiet days in the park, and visits with friends and family for another time. Oh and just so you all know, I chopped my hair off yesterday. A good eight inches. Why? The window of the hairdresser looked inviting and it said no reservations required.