Last week my mother-in-law Michèle sent me these photos she took of the fall colors in the vineyards around Villers-la-Faye. This year was particularly spectacular, everyone back in Burgundy said, with the vineyards a riot of orange and yellow and red.
Its fall colors are how the Côte D'Or or the "Gold Coast" - the world-famous strip of vineyards running from Dijon down to Beaune - earned its name. Locals always joke that the more fitting reason is because of the mind-numbing worth of these vineyards (Romanée-Conti and La Tâche, anyone?).
For me though, the fall colors of our beloved Burgundy have a different meaning. Michèle's photos - as well as the one above snapped by my friend Charlotte (aka "Marie" in My Grape Village) - remind me of that very first year I came to Burgundy.
My first (wonderful) host family lived in Nuits-Saint-Georges. I took the school bus every morning from Nuits to Beaune and returned on it late every afternoon. This meant, of course, that I passed through Premeaux-Prissey, Ladoix-Serrigny, and Aloxe-Corton to name just a few of the picturesque winemaking villages which flank La Nationale.
I remember watching out that bus window as the color evolved and changed day by day. After the flurry and excitement of my arrival in France, those fall vineyards put me in a contemplative mood, full of wonderings and questions about what the next three seasons in France would bring.
Little did I know then that they would serve up new friends, trips to Paris, the Alps, and Brittany, unbelievable meals with food and wine beyond my wildest imaginings and, most importantly, Franck and the beginnings of a life together that would be forever intertwined with France and the Côte D'Or.
Now, seeing these photos, I find myself poised on the brink of a new beginning once again.
This next year is - in one way or another - going to bring a huge amount of change into my life and the lives of Franck and our Bevy. I hope this next chapter will turn out to be both a gift and a new adventure.
I study these photos of the Burgundy vineyards, especially the bottom one taken by Franck's aunt Marie-Hélène and which matches almost exactly the early morning scenes which unfolded through the school bus window over two decades ago.
I find myself wondering...when the vineyards turn these same brilliant shades a year from now...where will I be? What will I be doing? How will I be feeling? The possible scenarios flicker through my mind. I hitch my hopes to the optimistic ones, although I know that life could easily hold some surprises that I haven't even begun to imagine yet. Good ones, I have to believe.