Autumn and harvest

October 22, 2012

Grape harvest is over in most areas of my canton (Valais). Some grapes will have to wait for a mid November harvest though. The wine produced then will have more flavour, sweetness and this particular flavour “terroir”, from the local soil.John O’Donohue, Irish writer and philosopher, writes about “Autumn and the Inner Harvest” (Anam Cara). He tells of the four Seasons of the heart, Autumn being associated with old age.

“In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one”.

As in the Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue sees Autumn as the harvest of one’s soul that gives a deeper sense of strenght, belonging and poise. A quiet delight when this time arrives in your life.

I  like O’Donohue’s deep thoughts and, as I walked through those wineyards last Sunday afternoon, I remembered my mother’s words and memories of her younger years when she was helping her father taking care of their few vineyards over the same hills. It was a hard work for anyone involved. No machines were used. The work started in February/March and ended in October/November. A lot was to be learned over months and years. A harvest of knowledge and traditions were transmitted to sons and daughters, families’ links were valued and strenghtened. Most mountain villagers grew vineyards  on the foothills. Their earnings were  meagre and  when the grapes were brought to the communal wine cellars, the gain was much appreciated.  It used to be a joyful and singing crowd which walked down to the valley early in the morning (5-6am) during the season of grape harvest. Sometimes, on lucky days, a postal bus would drive the villagers and winegrowers down to the vineyards.  After a long day’s work under a hot sun the return home up to the little villages was much  quieter. Bodies hurt and voices kept silent.  Of course there was a big celebration at the end of the harvest. It coincided with this other tradition that is still present nowadays : roasted chestnuts (brisolée).  A feast when served with various kinds of cheese, cold meats, rye bread/butter, grapes and apple pie; we also drink must (grape juice not fermented yet). A simple and delicious meal-of-the-season.

All those thoughts and more went through my mind during my afternoon walk. I wished my mother would have been there with me, holding my arm, smiling, commenting, remembering and gleaning the few grapes that were forgotten or left for visitors or birds or beagles 😉 Yes, Nino was with me and I had some trouble keeping him close to me, especially when we walked near this beautiful  vineyard (below) that had not been harvested yet.

In a  photo album, I found this old picture of grape harvest in our area, Valais. My mother could have been there making a pause and chatting with friends. Those days are long gone….


27 Responses to “Autumn and harvest”

  1. Autumn is my favourite season – thanks for reminding me how much I love it.

  2. Truels said

    Very fine photos! As one of the people who have arrived in the autumn of life, I read your fine and insightful words with great joy and recognition.
    And yes – country life – also in autumn – was hard and laborious in the old days. With both good and bad consequences!

  3. sybil said

    I thought the first photo was a painting … so beautiful.

  4. Simone said

    I was given Anam Cara by a dear friend ten years ago, and still find myself going back to this beautiful book – it just resonates within my soul.
    Autumn is also my favourite season, and your pictures capture it beautifully! we’re thankfully having a really nice autumn here in Ireland, better than our summer even… 🙂

    • Lovely to read you, Simone and to know that you enjoy Anam Cara just as much as I do. Re-reading it with even more pleasure. I am glad your Autumn is warm and beautiful. Ours has been until now, the Full Moon may bring a change of weather though… thank you for visiting.

  5. montucky said

    What a beautiful setting for those vineyards, and it is the best time of year to show them.

  6. sonali said

    Mouth Watering post Isa. The grapes look so fresh & just too tempting to grab. I’ve never been seeing grape harvesting. Sounds very interesting. The wine produced will be very tasty too! 🙂

    • Thanks sonali. You would enjoy grape harvesting… for a while. Grapes are sweet and juicy, we have had a lot of sun and just enough rain, a good year for the wine. I met Indian tourists in the train yesterday, they were so admirative of those colourful vineyards along the way. Lots of pictures were taken 🙂

  7. lola said

    a thanksgiving season!
    love the colors in these photos

  8. shoreacres said

    I have been blessed to travel a bit north, and now I am in Kansas City, visiting my aunt – my mother’s “baby sister”. It’s cooler here by far, only 45 degrees F with a freeze warning issued. I love it – the clear skies, the ripening moon, the trees half-emptied of their colorful leaves – it all helps me to appreciate your autumn world in a deeper way.

    I love autumn – when you have time, you might enjoy a little autumn story involving my own mother – it’s called Shedding Daylight . Mother felt her own autumn settling in, but she truly did embrace it – a blessing for her, and a reminder to me of how to begin coping with my own changing season.

    I once was in California’s Napa Valley in fall, and the beauty of the vineyards was breathtaking. Still, your setting reveals a certain magnificence lacking there, and the photograph is completely captivating. Hard work, yes – but look at those smiles!

    • That is a long travel you did, Linda (about 1000kms) ! I hope you are having a most pleasant stay with your aunt. Our colourful Fall has been surprised – we too – by snow. Totally unexpected and chaotic on the roads. I will definitely read your autumn story “Shedding Daylight”. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Our area where vineyards are growing is called “The little California”… many Swiss people emigrated there in the early 20th century. They worked hard, bought some land and…. planted vineyards. They felt at home.

      Thank you for your visit and comments that always open new perspectives and other aspects of interest.

  9. Sartenada said

    Bonjour Isa.

    Merci de cet post. Je n’ai jamais pensé à la récolte du vin, avant de ceci. Cependant, quand nous sommes allés en notre voiture le long de la vallée du Rhin, nous avons été surpris par plusieurs des clos du vin. Tes photos sont superbes et elles me donnent une excellente image de cette affaire.

    Bon week-end!

    • Merci Matti de ton sympathique commentaire. La Vallée du Rhin est célèbre pour ses vignobles, de très jolis villages pittoresques au bord du fleuve. Des vins délicieux que j’espère vous avez dégustés. Bon début de semaine.

  10. Tammy said

    What gorgeous images! I love the contrast in colors and the beautiful spot that you live in.

    • Thank you Tammy, yes, I realize how lucky I am to live in such a lovely area. But then your own state, Arizona, has its own particular beauty and it attracts me too for all its differences.

  11. Oh such pretty photos of where the grapes are grown. Very nice shots. I am visiting you blog. I’m from from central Texas. 11/19/2012 @11:22am

    • Lovely to see you here, petspeopleandlife. Thank you for your words. Yes, this valley where the grapes are grown is beautiful..and also it is my home State 😉 I know a little bit of your vast State : north of Houston and down to the SW to the Zavala county. So impressed by your straight roads, immense horizon and sky !

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