The Valentine Gift


The Novella “The Hand That Gives The Rose”

A reluctant daughter who takes over a centuries-old winery in Cold War Germany; a Polish physician who crosses into the West during the harvest; a love story that defies time, distance and political upheaval.

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Marielle Hartmann was an only child. This became significant to her only later in life, as you will see from her story. When she was a little girl her father, a great bear of a man, would carry her on his shoulders up the dirt road that led to their vineyards. She clung to his hands, giant paws that held her securely as they climbed higher and higher. She could smell the musty, sweet aroma of fermenting grapes that clung to his thick curly hair and she could feel his heart beating steadily beneath her legs.

When they reached the top of the hill, he spun her around in a whirling jig and she watched their acres and acres of vines spin with her, their gray-green leaves lifting in the breeze and their fruit pendulous and full of promise.

“Taste this,” he said, as he reached his hand through a tangle of broad leaves and emerged with a perfect cluster of grapes. He held them out to her in his palm, tiny pale globes of translucent green. She felt like a princess then, being offered a treasure of pearls as she surveyed her kingdom.

Behind them the Taunus Mountains formed a barrier against the cold north wind and below them the Rhine River was a slate blue ribbon warming the soil of their southern facing slopes. This particular geography had made it possible for her family to grow grapes for over three centuries in a region of Germany that was as far north as Saskatchewan. She understood that only later. As a child, this land was her playground, not her livelihood. It was the earth upon which she learned her father’s love for her.

And as a woman, it was the ground upon which Tomas Marek first stepped into her life.



Stories of the search for connection and belonging