As is my want, I often pick up one of Lawrence Durrell’s books where he writes of his sojourns in the Mediterranean. His poignant lyrical words feed my soul and I can sit for sometime after reading contemplating what his life was like and what it would have been like to have met him and been able to converse with him.
In Prospero’s Cell, which many regard as his masterpiece, he writes of his time on Corfu. Here I share with you a snippet from Chapter 7 – The Vintage Time. I am sure you will find yourself transported to the moment, just as I always do!!
“The vineyards are already beginning to look gutted and burnt out with shrivelling leaves. The Count walks ahead of us stopping here and there in all the profusion to clip a bunch of grapes with his scissors, which he carries tied around his waist on a piece of string. ‘Ah, my dear, where have you ever seen such plenty?’ he says. Indeed the variety is astonishing. ‘We will ignore these plump ones with the thick skins. But try these violet colored ones. You may find them too sweet. We have three days’ torture preparing for the gathering. So many extra mouths to feed. Plasterers, treaders, and whatnot hanging about the house.’ The great doors of the magazine are ajar. The huge vats and butts have been dragged out into the meadow for caulking and patching. Under a tree a small army of men is at work upon them. Some have been turned upon logs, and are being filled with gravel and water before being rolled. Others are being mended and scoured. ‘The big one in the corner,’ says the Count, ‘she is the one you have to thank for the crimson robola wine which you think so good…’
The shadow of the cottage pergolas seems rich with the scent of grapes – of blunt sweet muscatel and lisbetta. Ourania cuts down heavy clumps of them for the table, holding them in her brown arms and smiling. They are covered in a rich misty bloom.
Meanwhile across the orchard the Count is in full voice: The little amber ones and those which look ice-green and closely packed – they have done very well this year. Farther on we shall see the rhoditi. They run blood-red when the sun shines through them; coral rather, like the lobe of an ear. Dear me, we shall all have indigestion…
Do yourself an enormous favour and buy a copy, chill a bottle of wine, take comfortable chair underneath a tree and indulge. You wont’ be the same after you read this perfectly wonderful book.