It’s been just six days since I exited the train at Macon-Loché in the heart of Southern Burgundy and my world has been completely turned upside down. What started as a face full of makeup and perfectly blown out hair has turned into a hot mess of muddy sneakers, oversized sweatshirts, and a permanent line of dirt crusted beneath my fingernails. Mornings are early, evenings are late, and I’m consistently bloated from all of the cheap beer and delicious wine being flooded into my system. Oh, and I can’t stop eating cookies for the life of me. Send help.
But the truth is, I’ve never been happier. I remain constantly surprised at just how far my body can be pushed, how much my mind can take in, and the amount that I am learning in all aspects of wine, Patois dialect, and life in general. To start, things are different here. In this town, everyone knows one other. Cars pass and you wave. You call the the cashier at the grocery store by name. And if you have to buy something particularly embarrassing at the pharmacy… you do not remain anonymous.
To be frank, this annoyed me at first. Everything takes five times as long because you can’t go anywhere without having a full blown conversation with the person next to you. You can’t walk down the street without saying bonjour to the person you pass, even if they happen to be an out-of-towner– that would just be inhospitable. You can’t simply keep to yourself, even if something is bothering you. Friendliness is imperative and smiles are not optional; as a New Yorker, you can imagine how I felt about this.
But with that comes a distinct sense of community, one that I’ve never felt in a city of eight million people. As I write this in a rare moment I have to myself on my terrace, enveloped by a landscape of rolling green vines, I feel a sense of comfort in knowing I’m not actually alone. As far as I might be from my actual home, this place has quickly come to feel like one.
The other day, I came home after a long morning and plopped down on the one sun-drenched corner of my porch. Shoes kicked off, hair matted against my face, I stretched my body against the stony floor, letting the sun radiate its heat upon my sweaty forehead and dirt streaked shins. I closed my eyes and inhaled the clean, country air, with only the sounds of distant tractors and wind-rustled leaves around me. To my surprise, I woke up 20 minutes later from a nap I hadn’t planned on taking. In New York, I would’ve felt some extreme sense of guilt for wasting precious ‘work time’; but here, I felt relaxed and revitalized, even somewhat satisfied, for finally listening to my body and letting it rest when it was needed.
I woke up just in time to head back down to the winery and watch the grapes roll in, destined for the pressoir, ready to be made into precious, Chardonnay-based wine– cookie in hand, of course.