The Wine Widow and the summer
26th May 2021
I am sitting under a grey sky outside a bookshop talking to a friend. “And it’s June,” I say morosely, waving in disgust at the opposite of a late Spring sky. “Is it?” There is a note of panic in her voice, a flash in her eyes I wasn’t expecting, “Well no, not quite… but you know…” I am exaggerating, but only by six days. Her face relaxes, “Thank god for that,” she says. I’m about to concede that at least it ISN’T quite June when she adds “We’re very competitive in our family and if it was the 1st June and I hadn’t got pinch and punch in first I’d be...” she trails off, seeing my expression.
At home, the rain pelts down on freshly planted sweet peas which lie forlornly on the soil… Until last week they were in a new plastic greenhouse I begged Zam to buy (this is the definition of an object he cannot stand, but I persuaded him his Turban squash seedlings needed it). When the gales blew it over leaving young plants scattered from their pots, he shoved it in the shed where it will probably live for the rest of its days. This happened on the same day that a pallet of shiny foils destined to dress the necks of the long–awaited magnums was also caught in some wind-related courier catastrophe (the details of which remain mysterious) and have been crushed, useless. He puts on his coat, his wet boots… steps over the parsley and coriander seedlings drowning in puddles by the back door.
“Where are you going?” I shout at his retreating back, my words almost lost in the wind. “A Spring Evening Tour of the vineyard,” he shouts back. When he returns it’s dark but his mood is light – it always is after these events because he can talk about vines, buds, pruning techniques, dosages, brix levels… without his audience wandering off. “And they ask really good questions.” “Where did you eat?” I ask. He looks at me, and I realise he thinks this isn’t one of them.