wheat vines bestIn spring, the vines are brown but the other fields are green, whether with tender shoots of winter wheat or just plain weeds. It’s odd that a place is so verdant in winter. We rarely see snow, or even frost, so everything just keeps growing.

By figs green
Wheat in spring

In summer, it’s the reverse. Already at the start of July, the wheat is being harvested, first shorn like the buzz cuts my brothers used to get every summer. My uncle would come over and shear them outside not to make a mess, one after another, like so many sheep. A rite of summer.

By figs brown
Same field, about a week ago.

It’s funny to drive by and see stiff stubble where days before heavy heads of grain rippled in the wind, shivering like a body of water. Amber waves of grain. Later, the fields are cut again, shaved down to the skin of the earth.

Patchwork fields 1Sometimes the harvesters are working at 3 a.m. They probably are far away, but it’s so still at that hour that sound carries effortlessly. The farmers probably are racing the weather, their best frenemy forever. It looked like rain last night–dramatic black clouds, theatrical thunder, impressive lightning, but then nothing more than a few sprinkles that seemed to evaporate before reaching the hot ground. Enough to dirty the car but not enough to sate the tomatoes. Ça ne sert à rien, quoi.

vines wheat treesThe perfume is intoxicating. Cut grass on steroids. That makes sense–wheat is a grass after all. The syrupy sweet smell oozes through the windows. It’s so thick, I want to drink it instead of breathe it. Or bite into it, with melted butter on top. It smells almost, almost, like bread baking. How crazy is that?

long view to carcaWhen we came here, all the fields were vineyards. Nothing but. Since 2008, the European Union has tried to shore up wine prices by reducing supply. Winegrowers get a payout to pull out their vines. Every season, we see more and more vineyards yanked out.

wheat mountains green
Another view in spring

It seems sad because wine is really adapted to the circumstances. The climate here is very hot and dry, and vines send their roots far down to find water underground. Many vines are 40 or 50 years old, gnarled and thick. They are survivors. It hurts to see them pulled out. Plus, the region’s wines have gotten very good.

wheat mountains brown
The same field from almost the same place in summer

In their place? Wheat, colza (rapeseed),  sunflowers, and other things I don’t recognize. They create a patchwork across the countryside, with colors that are continually changing–green, bluish, reddish, brown.

red field
Somebody tell me what the red field in the middle is

It makes me think of that Byrds’ song from the hippie dippy 1960s. A song I never liked (is it because they spelled the band’s name with a y?), but it ran through my head yet again today as I drove past the changing fields. The lyrics, at least, ring true.

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16 thoughts on “Turn Turn Turn

  1. You might want to check the byrds link near the bottom…ahem Google books? Want some watercolor leçons..haha What beauty! Cheers and thanks for commenting Carol Gillott Paris in your mailbox Blog:www.ParisBreakfasts.blogspot.fr Shop:www.etsy.com/shop/ParisBreakfast

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  2. Your greens are glorious. Every spring in the mountains of British Columbia I look at the wonderfully different greens of the deciduous trees but haven’t photographed them. Will next year. Thanks for the post.

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  3. Very very interesting about the vines being pulled up! I had no idea. Sad, that.

    And the lyrics? Well they ring true because they were written long before the Byrds recorded the song! Like…looooong ago.

    Ecclesiastes 3:1
    1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

    3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

    4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

    5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

    6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

    7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

    8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace

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  4. Could the crop be clover? The red looks like the shade of clover crops here at a certain point in their growth.

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