29 May 2008

The beginning of something

I wrote this and I'm not really sure where it's going. But it's a start I guess. My first experimentation with fiction.

Two hundred kilometers south of Paris lies the little old-world town of Sancerre. It is picturesquely situated on a hill immediately west of the Loire River in the rolling country of Central France. The town specializes in white wine and goat cheese and the people drag the end of their sentences when they speak.

I’ve been there once. I bought goat cheese and white wine and canoed down the Loire River until I found a suitable spot for a picnic. The man I bought wine from was drunk when I arrived at twelve in the afternoon. He was a plump and happy man, and he liked to give generous samples. While he poured me two brimming glasses of the youngest red and white wines, he told me of the good luck they had that year with the grapes: just enough rain and no pests, no wide-spread diseases. They might have not even needed the rose bushes that year, he said. I liked the white wine better, but I bought a bottle of each. Before I left, I asked him what the rose bushes were for. He told me that roses are more sensitive to disease that grape vines, so when a disease is beginning to spread, the roses will wilt and he will know a disease is coming, allowing him time to save the grapes. I've never thought of a rose as a martyr.

Juditte sold me goat cheese. She was a roundish woman in her mid-fifties who spoke as if she were singing an opera. She was a bit theatrical all over. She showed me where the goats lived, where they were milked and where the cheese was made. She let me taste the two different types of Chevre cheese they had: a younger cheese and an older one that had grown mold, which added to the flavor, I was told. Both of the cheeses flooded your mouth with subtle bitter creaminess but she was right, there was something lovely about the aged cheese. Its flavor was sophisticated, and I felt sophisticated eating it. I bought a few rounds of the aged Chevre and left Juditte with modest “au revoir, a bientot,” even though I didn’t know if I would ever see her again.