Monday, May 2, 2011

Grapevines and walnut trees

In my article of 20 November 2010 entitled Wine of a kind [display], I evoked the Herbemont variety of US grapevines, which was one of the six varieties imported into France towards the end of the 19th century, for grafting in the hope of halting the catastrophic Phylloxera invasion. Here at Choranche, cunning landowners got around to using this Vitis americana plant, not for grafting, but to make a would-be "wine", as if it were a genuine variety of Vitis vinifera, which it was not. Today, the production of beverages from these six American "grape weeds" (Herbemont, Noah, Clinton, Jacquez, Isabelle and Othello), thought to be unfit for human consumption, is prohibited by law, and has almost ceased to exist. On the other hand, French authorities concerned with varieties of grapevines informed me last year that they know next to nothing about the exotic Herbemont plant, and they would like to inspect the specimens growing (apparently) at Gamone. I promised them that I would make an effort to prevent my donkeys from devouring the precious vines. So, I fenced of the area where Hippolyte Gerin, half a century ago, planted his famous Herbemont. Here's a first resurgence of the delicate reddish Herbemont leaves:

There are a dozen or so visible plants, and I've started to clean up the ground around some of them:

Meanwhile, the walnut trees of Gamone have donned themselves in colorful leaves, as if to welcome the warmness.

Sometimes, I think of my humble walnuts, not as trees, but as clockwork machines. They obey the seasons precisely, minutely, as if they were programmed… which, of course, they are, like everything else in the Cosmos.

Their hues are tender and fleeting, like the warm phantom of Spring that has deigned to move over Gamone. They are old, too, my Gamone walnut trees… like me. I love and respect them.

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