November 1. Zurich airport: I leave behind the brilliant colours of late autumn; the still lush green pastures. I don’t mind leaving behind the heavy fog that often accompanies this time of year. If we’re lucky it lifts by noon, or maybe mid afternoon, to make way for a deep blue fall sky.
I’m on my way ‘home’ to the farm in Westlock for a month. People ask me if I still know where home is. After two and a half months in Schleitheim, supporting my aging in-laws, Schleitheim has become home again too. I guess home has become where I am, whether that’s Switzerland, Canada, or Zambia. We’ll be spending the winter in Schleitheim this year. Our son and his wife are presenting us with twins for Christmas (give or take a bit), our first grandchildren. We want to be around to enjoy them for a little, after which we’ll probably spend some time in Zambia again with the small farmers project.
Last Friday Res Mueller of Osterfingen was spraying herbicide on his nicely emerged dinkel. Dinkel is an old grain that has seen a strong rise in popular demand in the last years. We had dinkel bread with our apple/celery soup last Sunday. The bread had a rich nutty flavour which I love. If you are a white bread person, you would probably find it too strong.
Our Swiss farm, the Emmerhof, was named after emmer, another old grain that has seen resurgence. I wonder how much the demand for these old traditional grains has to do with their taste, and how much with mistrust of modern plant breeding that many think fosters mass production and less real nutrition.
Res’s field is surrounded by the Osterfingen vineyards, resplendent in rich reds, coppers and golds. It was in one of those vineyards that I helped with the harvest a few weeks ago. Later that day I had accompanied Werner as he delivered the grapes to the Lindenhof winery. Part of the ritual of delivering the grape harvest is to drink a glass of wine together, a lovely Rose.
I tasted some more of the Lindenhof wine at the Schaffhausen trade fair (Messe) last weekend, a deep red cabernet merlot. Wine is definitely an important industry in the Schaffhausen area. If a person tasted wine at every booth at the Messe, they would have trouble finding their way home later. No wonder the Messe is such a popular affair!
A bottle of Stamm wine is in my suitcase, designated for a raclette party with friends in Westlock this Sunday evening. The bottle comes from Thomas and Mariann Stamm’s family winery in Thayingen, on the other side of Schaffausen. Too bad these Stamms aren’t relatives!