On a physical level, when I first started this harvest internship, I knew it was going to be mind over matter. Now that we are about halfway through, I have to admit that I cannot tell in what ways my body is getting stronger exactly because there’s so much labor each day, that it seems a new muscle is getting worked and is then sore the next morning! Don’t get me wrong, I love all of this. I know that sounds weird, but this post is not about any complaints – it’s just a check-in with my body. Harvest is obviously temporary, so my body won’t always get the workout it is getting right now, but it’s so interesting to experience what a body can do – what its stamina is and how, really when it comes right down to it, it’s all about your attitude and pace.

One of the things I love about the physical tasks we do at the winery is how you can get into a personal rhythm with them (like washing bins or doing punchdowns for hours) and a collective rhythm with fellow interns and the winemaker. On the latter, it takes awhile to learn how people do things (or would like them done), but once you learn the “how” it’s simply about tapping into both safety and respect to predict what they’ll do or need next. More than that, there is a kind of order to the doing of certain daily tasks that fulfills part of this collective rhythm, and it always feels good to me to be able to anticipate what we’ll need to next first before we do the next thing that needs to follow that first thing, like punching down before taking Brix readings.

I find it interesting how my body locates soreness. It’s as if different body parts take turns each day to reveal their soreness. It’s kind of like having a body that’s a giant bruise but not always in the same place! Today, as I type this post, I can sense most of my soreness in my hands – my fingers to be exact – and my upper and lower back. I tend to reflect on my soreness in terms of letting it take me back (much like a memory) to the task(s) that created that soreness. I know my hands feel the way they do because of all the punchdowns and my back because of all the bending over to hold the hose to clean out bins.

Yesterday, as Dave later told me, was our first proper day of harvest, given the amount of work to be done and the hours kept in order to complete this work. There were many tasks on auto-repeat out of necessity to continue the project of pressing. In reality, even though we all opted to stay a little later until 7 or so, I still knew that these were “kind” hours when you look at how early and late other wineries keep their interns for.

That said, I know Ed prefers to keep his hours at more of the 5pm cutoff because he doesn’t believe in having folks work too late (probably a rule he developed having worked for other folks at other wineries in years past). Still, I do know that many wineries have a rotational staff of interns that can be pretty high, from 10-30 for some, and so, I marvel at how much we can get done with a constant staff of 3 – that, and I love how much like family we’ve become and can learn about how we each like to do things in certain ways. And we respect those ways so long as they don’t interfere with how Ed needs things done. And when we do question each other or remind each other, we do so in a way that is delivered with patience (as best as we can, as it can get stressful in some moments, when time is of the essence and safety is on the line).

I can imagine that if you don’t really get to know all the folks in a winery’s large rotational staff of interns, you don’t get to this intimate level of understanding and can potentially take questions or reminders the wrong way. The reason we do so well in getting things done at Ed’s facility is because he trains us properly and with care. We are more committed to doing things his way because it yes, pleases him (and you always want to please a good and decent boss!), but it also leads to positive results in both efficiency and safety. Because we all care about that and Ed and each other, it makes for a pretty tightly run ship.

So yes, yesterday was our first big and long day, and yes, at the end of it, I felt a little melted or like a crumpled leaf, but I simply looked at it differently. And as my Dave (who patiently waited a couple of hours for me to finish – so sweet) drove me home and I let my body just sink into the seat, I let him know that all I was feeling was massive fatigue but not in any bad or negative way. It was just a very human feeling.

I’ll be at the winery again this morning a little earlier to help with cleaning the press – my first time! I think what actually led to yesterday’s fatigue was the fact that I did my usual 4mi walk to work. That was just a bit too much on top of a day of so much labor that needed to be done. I push myself a little too hard sometimes. I’m just like that. I want to be ready to dive in and do things well and correctly and I think I let working with all guys motivate me as well. Anyway! Today, I’ve decided that I need to be kind to my body and let my Dave take me to work, and I feel good about that!

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