The tug-of-war between the Scots and the French that signaled the end of the Scots' annual Gathering in Brest was monumental in the bonding of both sides.
There had been some acrimony between the two over an initial attempt to purchase barrels of wine from the French vintner's co-op, and with the Scots' victory in the tug-of-war, everyone seemed to relax and enjoy themselves.
The French had graciously invited the Scots to their agricultural hall for food, drink and dancing. When about 50 of us got to the hall, a great wooden structure with Gothic windows and enormous ceilings, we were greeted warmly and invited to drink and eat from a delicious spread of cheeses, red wines and warm, baked bread.
A five-piece band began to play in the corner and the dancing began. Being the worst dancer among the now 100 or so folks at the hall, I stayed clear of the footwork.
This was old France, the France of 1968, and the music was quaint, provincial and totally acoustic. At about one in the morning, we all went our separate ways, each vowing undying friendship to each other and promising to return as soon as we could.
In the morning, we all said our goodbyes on the pasture above the coast road and made sure we left the site in as good a shape as we found it
I packed my motorcycle tightly and slipped on my peacoat as it was beginning to drizzle. As I was going through my routine of checking the oil, making sure the air pressure in the tires was correct and wiping road grime from the headlight, up the lane came Ian, my co-worker and friend from Beaujolais who had invited me to the Gathering, to say goodbye.
He was grinning from ear to ear and had a light pack hanging from his shoulder. He gave me a big hug and then, much to my surprise, began to tie his pack to the top of my pack on the back of the bike.
He undid one of the panniers and dropped in some things from his pockets, then tightened the strap. From his coat pocket he lifted out a pair of sunglasses and smiled and asked, "Paris, right?"
Yes. ... What?
I had told him at some point during the festivities that my route back to Beaujolais would include a stop in Paris to drop off some paperwork (and money) for our employers, the Chagnys.
"Good!" Ian said. "An adventure! Hop on behind me."
I just stood there as he slid expertly onto my bike and started it. Two things were clear to me: He knew about motorcycles and he had been planning on coming back with me for quite a while.
He then reached into another pocket and pulled out a pair of gloves. Finally, and with a look of mild agitation, he pointed to the little leather "bible" seat behind his very comfortable seat.
Ian was a big guy and the BMW R69S was at its maximum weight with the two of us and our belongings.
We slipped up to the coast road and headed north. We turned down the gravel road to the vintner's co-op for a last goodbye and were rewarded with three hunks of wonderful cheese, a loaf of bread and two bottles of red wine. We were off!
Lorn Razzano is former owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland and still works there part time. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For previous columns on his adventures as a winery intern in France, visit www.dailytidings.com/razzano.