A Winter Break...Literally
Torrential rains followed by a flash freeze marked the beginning of January. I always look forward to winter after our challenging growing seasons. Crazy weather, hard earth and cranky equipment means there is no growing season that's not challenging in running a Prince Edward County vineyard. It's a career for both dreamers and masochists!
Winter is a respite when the vigneron forgets his problems and begins to dream again of things green and growing.
With the busy holiday season behind us and after a short jaunt with Micheline and friends to Nashville, I was ready for to recuperate from holiday excesses. I planned to spend the quiet winter months making wine and sharing it with restauranteurs who might like to feature a nice County wine on their wine lists. There was still a long list of things to do, and the ever-present pressure of generating enough cash flow to keep the lights on in the winery and contribute a small amount to the lives of our busy family. Even so, with the vineyard asleep for the winter, there would be more personal time.
I find that running is a great way to clear one's mind, and nothing gives more clarity than a peaceful jog through a winter wonderland. So I strapped on my shoes and headed down the snow-covered path to our lane.
Almost immediately -- disaster. My left foot landed in a ice-filled pothole. It slid violiantly outwards with weight and speed behind it. I crashed onto the gravel with a painful thud. I thought I only suffered some bruises until I looked at my left foot. To say that it was askew is an understatement. I won't describe the details in consideration of my more sensitive readers.
A trip to Picton Hospital to reset my ankle in a cast; surgery in Belleville to pin multiple fractures together again with plates and screws; back to our winery home with Tylenol and narcotics. And there I sit with my leg elevated, contemplating my relative helplessness. My daughter Ellie and my wife Micheline are nursing me along and wonderful friends have offered help with whatever I needed. I am grateful for that.
Another thing to be grateful for is the timing. There could have been no better timing for an ankle break. It takes about 4 months to recover nearly completely, which will put us near mid-May. Vineyard work starts mid-April, but tractor driving at that point will be possible wearing a walking cast.
Any other time of year and I would have had to hire one or two people to cover the things that I can't do any more.
Because of our medical system I can expect a full recovery. In another epoch or even another country in current times, I might have been crippled for life.
Positive thinking aside, this is really humbling, even a bit depressing. I realized a random occurrence can come out of nowhere and hobble one's dreams.
Now I have become reliant on other people. I need to hire help to finish my wines because I can't safely lift a case of wine, crawl up a ladder or lift up a lid from a tank. Moving a pallet or barrel is out of the question, unless I am using the forklift. I love my family and friends but I've always valued being independent and highly capable, so it's a big change.
Perhaps that is a blessing too -- entrepreneurs struggle with delegating tasks, trying to do everything themselves.
So breaking an ankle brings an unexpected challenge for our tiny winery business and a whole new chapter in personal development.