Friday, July 1, 2011

catching (up)







I am sitting in my newly painted studio which has been physically moved for the fourth time in the last thirteen years we have lived here.  This seems to be the fourth and last time.  Ralph Ward, who’s helped us move it every time, laughs and shakes his head at this.  But really, this is the last time.  We’ve dug a spot in to the ground at the top of the rose garden and covered it all in crushed stone, and have started a retaining wall to surround the building.  There are plans to get some paving stone.  Two potted roses sit at the corners of the front of the little house, tall climbing roses, the William Baffins,  that bloom a deep pink and sneak around the windows.  There are plans to plant the roses in the ground once the hardscaping is finished.  Everything about this move is more permanent, more lasting, a little more serious.  Even though after the previous move, we had planted those self-same roses also, and now they’ve  just been dug up and potted again as if they might be more transient.   As I have to water them almost every day, I promise that this situation is temporary.

This is the room that I write in during the summer.  I wrote my book Libation in this space three summers ago though this little house has gone through some changes since then.  It’s original use was as a shelter for two baby lambs bought by the original owners, a structure to protect them from the coyotes that roam down from the spines of the Chateauguay above us.  This is why it’s been dubbed Lamb House.  Last summer, we bought a pull-out couch, so that we could house extra guests, and when the roof failed while those guests were visiting during a series of torrential thunderstorms last August, we decided to have the roof replaced in the fall which gave Lamb House a whole new look—a single shed that is higher at one end of the building giving it the feeling of a cathedral ceiling on the inside.  Just a few weeks ago, Caleb finished putting a window in that upper story, a window from the old library in our village.  It still needs to be cleaned, but the effect is still lovely.  The top half of the building is shingled and barnboard completes the bottom half, just like our house and just like our barn.  Things look more all of a piece now.  

Out my desk window, I see blooming roses: Belladonna, Therese Bugnet, common Rugosa, Foxy Pavement, blooming borage, catmint, tall spires of Valerian in the distance next to the green house which now has a French blue door to reflect the door of the Lamb House, the door of the cantina, and the front door of the main house.  All of a piece, like I said.  There are also the spent blooms of a million iris that need to be dead headed and pockets of bare ground in the beds that need to be weeded, pots of volunteer raspberries that need to be planted. 
We have taken another long sabbatical from writing here, finding that the doing is precluding the writing.  Everything is about catching up and juggling.  In April, we took a break from the restaurant like we always do and took time to do some early work here on the farm.  When we re-opened the restaurant in May, we thought the season would ease into itself as that’s usually the rhythm in our village.  But the restaurant work started off as if in high season, and it has been that way ever since, and somehow doesn’t seem to get easier even with full reinforcements having come to share the work.  On the farm, all the starts that we got going early in the greenhouse are still getting planted—there are so many!—and there has been the planting of new vines, compost preparations, taking care of the apple orchard, shoot thinning, tying up, weeding, planning for trellising, new fence, new orchard, cleaning out the barn for the tasting room, and the list continues, and while there is the satisfaction of crossing off things that do get done, the list seems to grow-every time one task is completed, three more are added. 

There are many things we’d like to write about here this summer: the first blossoming of our vines, the trials and tribulations of trying to grow radicchio, the dishes we make with the ingredients that we are currently harvesting, the √©levage of our first wines in the cantina, what is the meaning of a proper lunch, why do we want to grow natural wine and which winegrowers are motivating us to do so, the surprise of finding nine more bottles of our first cider and the plans for a Sunday lunch under our oldest apple tree that those bottles have inspired.  And we hope to be able to meet you here every week or so with these stories, but farm life coupled with restaurant life is often unexpected.  While it has been difficult to sit down at our desks to write here, we have been very good about “micro-blogging” on twitter, and you are welcome to find us there at @paneesalute.  

Here’s to more time to do everything, and to enjoy the doing—

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