se grouiller

Laundry, motorcycle, burrs... read on in today's column!

se grouiller (seuh-grooyay) verb
    : to get a move on

[the verb "grouiller" means "to mill about")

New, in books: "The Black Tower" by Louis Bayard :

  grouille-toi = buck up!

Yesterday, after dropping off the kids at school, I headed out to the field of Grenache grapes: to those torturous low-lying vines "en gobelet"*--as opposed to the easier-to-pick trellised type.

"Bonjour tout le monde." Hello, I sang, snatching a pair of sécateurs* out of my mom's hand and stealing her bucket. I was letting Jules off the hook, after she'd made her ceremonial appearance in the field. Not two mock-complaints later, and Mom quickly disappeared to the comfort of the house, to prepare the mid-morning snack.

Looking around the field, I saw the bright faces of our voluntary crew... and noticed how they didn't appear too pained. That's when it dawned on me: as the vigneron's* wife, it was my job to look at least as enthusiastic as they--never mind the inconveniences...

Hunched Early morning and the grape fields were wet with dew--right up to one's armpits! Where there's wet, there's crawly and, like that, the insects pecked at and pestered us as we worked, hunched over those goblet vines, parting the maze of sticky branches in search of grapes.

"Are those gnats?"... I ask, swatting at my forehead where the bugs are trekking across the sweaty surface on their way up... and into!... my casquette.*
"I don't know..." Ansley answers. "...but they don't bite," she adds, encouragingly, and I notice how she doesn't complain....

In between the rows of vines, the weeds are so high that they poke you in the eyes when they're not scratching every square inch of skin. Itchy, scraped, and swelling skin... I realize that I am the only one with bare legs. Everyone else, no matter how new to harvesting, was smart enough to wear long pants!

"Weeds!" I mumble, scratching at my calves. That's when I notice how my socks are STUDDED with stickers.
"I prefer weeds to chemicals any day," Erin states, managing a cheer for organic farming.

Harrumph. She's not complaining either.

Aha! Just then, I catch Ross holding his aching back. Perhaps he'll join in my pity party after all? Then again, chances are he'll blame the pain on Mount Ventoux--a cycling feat he managed in between the Syrah and Grenache parcels (during off hours, between harvesting days).

Grape-truck  By four p.m. those horseweeds--and all the cotton-like fibers they let off each time you knock into them--are causing a ripple of sneezing throughout the grape fields. Running noses and scratchy eyes add to the list I am mentally writing titled "Harvest hazards".  I notice John-From-Indiana is as allergic as I am, but I don't dare ask him to commiserate with me.... or else he's likely to start singing that chorus again, ever one to see the bright side:

Over hill, over dale
As we hit the dusty trail,
And the caissons go rolling along.

... and then... there's Charles! Charles who underwent quadruple bypass surgery before arriving to last year's Hell On Earth Harvest. He is back this year, a chirping and a cracking--cracking jokes, that is, and not his back, for even if the latter were true he certainly wouldn't complain.

Lunch Grape harvesting, for a bénévole,* would normally be an "all pain no gain" undertaking. Then again, depends on how you see things... and those "positive pickers" have a vision of their own. As for me, I'm just a feeble farmer's wife who'd best quit bawling... and buck up!



en gobelet = goblet shaped; le sécateur (m) = pruning shears; le vigneron (m) = wine farmer; la casquette (f) = (baseball) cap, hat; le (la) bénévole = volunteer

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