Treasure Hunts . . . research and writing.
I love treasure hunts. Whether it is renovating the old site of the stables from the 1800’s and finding pieces of history, whether it is shell-seeking on my favourite beach.
Even if it’s driving down an unknown country road just to see what’s at the end, it’s all treasure of sorts.
I have a huge glass vase of small fragments of blue and white china found in the paddocks at the farm, I have a collection of the tiniest scallop shells in colours that range from bright red, through all the ‘hot’ colours of the spectrum to white. We have found household irons dating from the 1800’s, wonderful old wrought gate hinges, old fashioned weights, pieces of plough, ancient horseshoes, tiny bottles. All forms of treasure. Isn’t there an old saying: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?
And of course, The Stumpwork Robe and The Last Stitch were indubitably treasure hunts where the reader had to seek tiny books hidden under the embroidery of an eldritch gown in order to follow the story of Adelina.
But most recently my treasure seeking has taken an odd turn. Yesterday, husband and self bought two wine barrel halves in order for me to plant two herb gardens. Turning over the halves we found a paper bill attached to each. Both (wonderfully coloured and fragranced with the smell of red wine) had been used by a vineyard in the USA called Fetzer Vineyards. On the hunt, I went to my computer and googled and found that Fetzer exists in Mendocino County in California. So that was the first part of my treasure.
Then there were the heavy logos underneath, engraved into the oak of the barrels themselves. One named Seguin-Moreau as the cooperage. So here was the next part of my treasure. Seguin-Moreau have been making the finest oak barrels for the viticulture industry since 1838. Firstly for France and then everywhere. There is a chance that mine came from Chaghy or Cognac in France.
The second barrel is harder to identify. The logo has been burned into the oak and is indistinct, but I can see the word Tonnellerie (French for cooperage) and then Reims, France. If I can find a match for the logo I shall have found my third piece of gold. I’m rather tickled with the Reims thing though, because I think of all those mysterious limestone ‘caves’ filled with barrel after barrel of wine and I also think of Reims and champagne.
But whatever the case, isn’t it incredible to think that here in Australia,
I am growing herbs in wine barrels built in France and used most recently in California? Heavens, it’s almost a type of metaphor for the friendships I’ve made since TSR and TLS were released! I’m plugging on with the research into the second barrel as it gives my herbs the most wonderful provenance and like I say: you never know what a treasure hunt will divulge.