Vigna Roda: “Harvest Memories”
An old photo tells the story
September arrived and it was time for “Vendemàre” (Grape Harvest). We would all get a pair of scissors to “vegne” (harvest) and off we go in the vineyards. Most people had a job in the local factories or worked as mason. They would take a leave from work to go harvest. It was a way to bring home some additional money.
Even school teachers would give less homework to the kids, they knew they would go get hired by some peasants in the vineyards. They would be used mostly to empty the baskets in the carriage. Aome of them, trying to be smart, would bent and go under the wires pulled from one pole to the other of the vineyard most of the time hitting their forehead, signs of it would stay until Christmas.
Harvesting was like a big festival, the meeting point of different generations: older men scoffed at the initiatives of the younger ones, but they loved to tell you about the war and their tribulations. Boys and girls “smorosavano” (would flirt) looking at each other from one row to the other.
Lots of singing and gossiping about cheating husbands, money spammers, and controversial legacies. As long as they spoke the boss was happy as he said, “the more you talk, the less grapes you eat!”
In the middle of the afternoon the “paròna” (the boss wife) would bring bottles with fresh water and just one “goto” (glass) for everybody, which was rinsed with a firm arm gesture, to drain the last remaining drop. At the end of the day, we would go to “machinàre” (press grapes), and we, the “bocie” (the kids), were all around the crusher and would play by throwing grapes in the air and catching them with the mouth wide open.
“How many hours?” In the evening you would mark, on the calendar hanging behind the door, the number of hours worked. At the end of the harvest, the boss would call you and pay what was due and when you came home with the money you felt the richest guy in the world.
This was harvest time, once upon a time in Vo’