l'ultima vendemmia (the last harvest)

Our best friend Franco, the local farmer, passed away in June.  The family has made a decision to pull out his small vineyard, as there is no one left to properly tend it.   Some of the vines were planted by Franco's father and are over sixty years old.  I felt it was a right of passage to go over to the vineyard and photograph it before the final harvest.

Max and I bathed in the warmth of the early autumn sun and remembered the sound of Franco's tractor gently climbing the hill.

Friends gathered every year to help him harvest his Barbera and Brachetto grapes.  As we would walk by in winter, he would yell down, "Diana, Michael!" and we would wave up to him, watching him tie each branch back, delicately trimming the shoots.

Franco taught me so much.

He taught us how wheat gets threshed and how to plant potatoes.  How a water pump works and how to trim fruit trees.  He showed  Micha how to use a chain saw and a sickle.  He helped us cut down trees and get in the house when we locked ourselves out.  He brought us eggs.  Fruit.  Tomatoes.  And of course, grapes.

He taught me what it means to just give, without expecting something in return.  To share what you know and not hide things jealously.  That you can be nice and be instructive at the same time. That you don't necessarily need to give back to the person who gave to you; it might be better to pass the giving on to someone else who needs it more.

He taught me that living simply can mean living well. He was not a man that needed a lot of things.  He had his tractor, his fields, his vineyard, his chickens.  His friends.  His family.  He led a full life.  I never saw him aggravated or frustrated.  He always had time if you needed him.

I am so grateful to have known him.  We will miss his small vineyard terribly, but not nearly as much as we miss him.