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  • Michèle Foster

After the harvest comes the refreshing

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

Solière vineyard under cloudy skies (Provence)

It has been raining on the vineyard all week. It doesn’t rain that often in Provence. There are, on average, 300 sunny days in Provence per year – it’s one of the sunniest regions in Europe. Personally, I don’t like it when it rains; one of the reasons I moved here was because I like warm, sunny weather. But when I think of how the grape vines must feel about all this rain, I can’t help but smile.

Weather-wise, 2019 was about as perfect as you can get for grape growing in Provence. We had a mild winter, plenty of rain in the spring but not too much, then a long, warm, dry summer with just enough rain at the right times, followed by a nice dry harvest season with cool evenings to help retain the flavor compounds in the grapes as they were picked.

Grape vines suffer in the summer. They are growing and nourishing their fruit at a time when the rain is scarce and the sun is hot. That’s why in Provence, the law requires that no fruit can be harvested from grape vines until they are three years old – they need to focus on growing deep roots in the first three years. Those deep roots are what allow them to yield fruit in the hot, dry months.

But even with deep roots, the growing season taxes the vines. That’s why I’m so happy for them now. We just picked the last grapes of the season on October 15. Then five days later, the rain started and has continued every day since. Free from the burden of their fruit, all of this rain is for them! They can strengthen themselves and relax. They can rest and be refreshed.

What a great lesson for us! We all have seasons of deepening our roots (preparation) followed by seasons of high productivity and output. It’s tempting to want to prolong the periods of high output as much as possible. These are exciting times where we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor! But we also need to be conscious of the toll this takes on us, and be sure to remember to block out time for the refreshing. We can’t just keep outputting without putting something back in.

I still struggle with this. My tendency is to feel guilty when I’m not working or when I don’t think I’m “productive” enough. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the false belief that rest is an inefficient use of my time. But all three seasons – preparation (sharpening skills and learning), productivity and restoration – are equally important, so we need to be sure to account for all of them in our time management.

Each person is unique and can experience varying resistance to each season. My advice is to identify the one you are most likely to resist, and schedule that first. For me, it’s the restoration, so that means when planning my year or my week, I schedule my vacation time and my “fun” time first! I know I will have no trouble doing the other stuff, so that gets filled in around my restoration time. Depending on your responsibilities and lifestyle, your seasons may appear in varying intervals, but make sure they all get their turn and that each is given its due weight.

Nature knows what it is doing. Let’s follow suit!

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