“Il faut cultiver notre jardin.”
Voltaire’s character Candide uttered this phrase as his philosophy to express the delights in, and benefits of, taking care of the small things in life. To occupy oneself with gardening is to take your mind off troublesome thoughts leaving one happier as a consequence.
Never has this phrase been more apt than the last week when my home country has lurched from its traditional sense of fair play, tolerance and progression towards isolationism, ignorance and prejudice. We are told, by a former Education Minister, that British people ‘have had enough of listening to experts’ (Gove). Just remind yourself there, that’s a former Education Secretary advocating ignorance over education. We are told Britain will continue to welcome Europeans whilst some Leave supporters abuse migrants from all around the world.
When I studied ‘Candide’ at university I was free to travel, live and work in Europe, now that freedom will be much more restrictive for our young people. And, life will be harder for those of us who have had the joy of living in Europe. Meanwhile US Presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted:
“Just arrived in Scotland. Place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back.”
In fact Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU. Be very afraid.
That sounds more like Martin’s gloomy philosophy in the book that evil will win over good. Hence the need to look after our garden, to balance my spirit. What better way than by looking at the vines?
Hot temperatures and strong winds have helped to diminish the threat of mildew. Jeff completed his final spray against the disease last Tuesday, his battle has been a hard one but hopefully he has won the war. The vines themselves are making up for lost time, the young grapes swelling in size rapidly. There is a real vigour and energy there at present.
In the cellar work has begun to create a mezzanine floor at one side. This will allow the grapes to be put into the tanks from above rather than having to be pumped. Access to the tanks for pigeage. cleaning etc will be much easier too.
Martin was wrong, there are many good things in the world, the wonders of nature, not least in the vines. Pangloss, his counterbalance in the book, was wrong too, all is not for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Looking after the vines, and the wines, has never looked to be such a wise choice. Candide was right after all.