IFSA Butler






For two weeks in November, while I was traveling by myself, I stayed in Renwick, right outside Blenheim, the center of South Island wine country. I stayed on a small vineyard owned by Janet and Brent Nicholson. In exchange for a room and food, I helped them weed their plot of grapevines.

These days I dig,

Row by row.

I go through the tangles of weed

With my spade, careful

To leave the clovers untouched

In bunches among the hungry vines.

What a way to live,

I think as I glimpse the tips

Of the sun stretching taut.

Mornings of fresh almond milk, granola,

and jam.

Limes pickled and labor preserved.

Every thing fresh,

Especially the wine


Best in the sun,

Where my humbled spine

Is sore and slick.

My bandana is sweaty and sour

After hours of bending down;

Grounded in function.

A digger at heart

‘til the bell strikes two.

An evening of steamed artichokes

Pulls me 17 hours away: home.

I clip the spines and pick apart

A place I’ve been before.


the grapes aren’t ripe

For picking in November

and I must leave;

Unable to taste the fruits of my labor.

Daniel Solway is a student at Kenyon College and studied abroad with IFSA at the University of Otago in 2012.