Last week I went out to the vineyards with Bob and his son, Gabriel. Bob was doing his weekly inspection, checking the progress of the vines, looking for any signs of disease or weather damage. There had been some hail the week before and some leaves were damaged but the baby fruit looked fine. Gabriel is a bright and curious six-year-old boy and when you see him playing with friends or his little sister, you notice a gentle and caring nature.
All Gabby’s questions start “Daddy?” and Bob’s patience is impressive. Every one is answered seriously as Bob treats him with respect and guides him with knowledge, encouraging more questions. While looking out for his safety, he also gives him the freedom to explore, and plants the seeds of self-reliance so necessary for growth. Bob urges him to join in the inspection, teaching his trade, letting him touch and understand, transferring his love of the land. It occurs to me that this is exactly the progression of generations that has farmed these vineyards for centuries. That Bob is not French and not from here means nothing at all; he is doing what the Calvets and Raynauds and Batlles and Lafages have always done in farming their land and passing the knowledge along to the next generation, along with the strength and independence needed to make it work. Societies like this can be suffocating to some who will find it necessary to leave; others will take comfort in tradition and stay. But with the continuity of knowledge, if you feel the need to rebel, at least you know what you’re rejecting.
Late in the morning, Bob and I were walking together in a very hilly vineyard; Gabriel lagging behind picking up rocks and sticks. When he looked up and realized he’d lost sight of us, Gabby was frightened and cried out for Bob, who ran back to pick him up and comfort him.
I’ve seen Bob be stern and strict when he thought the boy’s behavior was inappropriate; out in the vineyards this day I saw the rest of the job: the guidance, caring, patience and love of a parent. Watching them interact you feel that Bob will not hesitate to provide guidance and encouragement when needed, criticism and discipline when warranted. Within this framework are positive expectations of independence, self-reliance, security and comfort.
We never see the whole story, but it’s nice when the good stuff’s in focus.