Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hope and Grapes

It's my birthday! Care to join me in throwing the day's work to the wind?
We could sit out in the sun by the grapevines and eat muscadines 'til we're sick. They're ripe now, filling our backyard with their musky, peppery scent.
When my grape farmer gets back in town (he's off again, earning points for another suitcase,) it'll be time for the harvest. Time to wash the feet and start stomping. Got a kerchief for your hair and your best Italian accent? It's I Love Lucy all over again. Or, if you don't feel like wrestling, we could just hang out and watch the fruit flies. They're busy planning their annual convention in my kitchen once the brewing starts.

I can hardly believe it's been six years since the mailman brought us three tubes of sticks from Ty Ty, Georgia.
I couldn't figure it out. Why in the world did my husband buy mail order twigs?
"They're not twigs," he said, unwrapping them with such care you'd have thought they were artifacts from Mesopotamia. "They're grapes. Remember? I'm going to plant a few vines in the backyard.

A few vines. Right.
He's a Ramsey. When it comes to the garden, there are never a few of anything.

See what I mean?
If you love muscadines and live nearby, come on over! We've got plenty to share.

At first I didn't get his enthusiasm for the grape, but now I do.
Muscadine grapes are more than just a grape with a mucous-y texture, a fruit that rolls around in your mouth like a skin covered eyeball.
Grapes are all about hope.
(And no, I haven't had a little too much of the pressed grape already. Stick with me and I'll get to my point.)

Last Christmas, the kids made him a sign.

The Hopeful Dog Vineyard. It's the title Todd prints on the labels for his homemade muscadine wine, named after a hopeful dog we know and love.
This goofball.

This dog is hopeful, if nothing else.
Hopeful that we'll drop a crumb. Hopeful that he can trick three people into feeding him dinner, one after the other. Hopeful that some kid will leave the bread on the counter, so he can sneak it out the dog door, eat up every morsel, and leave the plastic bag to crop up in a photograph.
(See it there on the left?)

I'm still not sure that the image a hopeful dog is appetizing enough to belong on the label, but the concept of hope definitely needs to be on there somewhere.
Grapes are all about hope.

If hope really means holding to a wish for something, expecting that it will come true, grapes are the poster fruit for hope.
Need an explanation?
Allow me to let you peek into a conversation my husband and I had the hot, sweaty day he constructed the trellis and planted the grapes.
Being my helpful self, I stayed in the air conditioning. When he was done I brought him some tea.

"Not to tell you what to do," I said, "But wouldn't it have been easier to put them where it's flat instead of going up the hill?"
Todd breathed deeply, as if restraining himself from clobbering me, and wiped the sweat off his face.
"You might think that," he said, "But that's what's so great about grapes. They thrive on adversity, on the water rolling down the hill in a hard storm, on the wind whipping through. Think of the vineyards back in France. Can you think of a single one that's on flat land?"
"There was that one in Perignat."
"Exception to the rule!" he countered. "If that farmer had had a hill, he would have planted it there. Didn't you look at the millions of vineyards we drove past? Don't you remember how the grapes were planted in the worst places possible--steep hills, the worst soil, under piles of rocks? Grapes are amazing! If they have to struggle, they bear more fruit. They just keep on doing what they do, through everything. But make them comfortable and all you get is leaves!"

Okay. So now I'm ready for Barbara Walters.
If she ever asks me the question: If you were a fruit, which one would you be? I know what I'd answer.

Have a grape! And a wonder-full day.
Love, Becky


steve said...

"Muscadine grapes are more than just a grape with a mucous-y texture, a fruit that rolls around in your mouth like a skin covered eyeball.
Grapes are all about hope."

I'll have to pass that around to our Duplin Winery friends so they can use that in their advertising! :*)

I love you, sis! Hope your birthday is as happy as you make me when I read your writing. Have a great day!

Alise said...

First, happy birthday! I hope you have a fantastic day filled with love and joy. You SO deserve it!

And honestly, if I were anywhere nearby, I would completely join you to raise a glass.

Thank you for sharing about grapes. I love learning new things and that explains why some of the wineries here in the mountains of WV produce such lovely beverages.

Have a fantastic day!

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

*HaPpY BiRThdAy* Becky* !

have your happiest one yet !
and thank you for the great laughs you've already given today :)))
your description of the unwrapping of the twigs is SOoo Kevin Kline in French Kiss ... and your Lucy clip Perrrfect !
loving the new background !!

eVeRy BlEsSinG for you & your new year ;)

Serenity said...

Wow! That is completely amazing. I'm just word-less while I think about that. It's so cool the tons of things God created that teach little lessons like this.

Sarah Jessica said...

Happy birthday! I raise a lovely glass in your honor. I love how we can see hope in adversity, grace in hardship, and love in difficulty. Enjoy your day!

Natalie said...

Love this post... need the hope, inspired by the fruit.
Happy Birthday! And thank you for this gift... your thoughts, your story.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

I think that Ramsey and Lee men share some common traits. My farmer has been begging to plant "a few" grape vines in the front yard.

Happy birthday. You continue to bear much fruit, sister, as you remain in Him, right there on the vine.

Amy Sullivan said...

It was so great getting a little peek into your life! How amazing that the grape actually thrives in adversity. Plus, how fun that hubby makes wine!

I hope you have an amazing day. Oh, and an added ps to your comment on my blog. I think the time to give up on dreams is n-e-v-e-r.

adrienne said...

Happy Birthday!!
I love the sign for the vineyard. I've blogged about the hopefulness of my dog, too - it's pretty inspiring!

Kat said...

Happy Birthday to you!!!!!
Hopeful Dog Vineyard. I love it! It is a great name. :)

Cathy said...

We're having our annual Grape Stomp for communion wine this weekend. Great fun! Happy Birthday! You share your birthday with my Mom!

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

a little BiRthDaY Bouquet posted
over at FHC for you Becky :) EnJOY !!
and MaNY MORE :)

Jen P said...

Bonne anniversaire Cherie! Hope your glass is always half full this coming year and you get what you need.

Sharon said...

A very happy birthday to you, Becky!

I have fond memories of humid Louisiana this time of year and the heavy laden muscadine vines. There is some delicious jelly that can be made from those "musky peppery" grapes. I'd be very open to trying the wine!

Thanks for a beautiful post!

Grace on the Narrow Path said...

I love muscadines!!! I remember growing up in the South and picking those little bits of joy.
Happy Birthday and may the Lord continue to bless you.

revhipchick said...

Happy Birthday! May your "new year" be blessed beyond your wildest imaginings!

I never knew that grapes thrived on adversity--that adds so much to all of the comparisons to God's people and vineyards, grapes, etc.

I'd totally buy a bottle of Hopeful Dog wine!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Y'all made my day really special.
I'd stomp grapes with you anytime!

Notre Vie Juteuse said...

Hey Becky - Happy Birthday...tomorrow is mine! Haven't been around in a while, took a break from blogging after we moved back from France, but now we are going back, hopefully for good. Great to see your beautiful golden, ours is so excited to be heading back to France. Hope you had a lovely day

Jane said...

Happy Birthday! I hope our men are managing without us - it is a tough life they lead! Paul missed Isabelle's b-day this time.

I have never tried a muscadine - on the to do list! My mother has a few vines which climb up a trellis at the side of her house in Nova Scotia, the roots pushing between rocks and the foundation. Every year a few more bunches of grapes appear...amazing.

Laura said...

Happy, happy birthday! Well, it's almost over now, but I pray it was a good one. And...a winery? So cool! Love learning more about you. I wouldn't mind helping with the grape stomping...but I'm afraid it might turn out similar to Lucy's adventure!

lynnmosher said...

Happy birthday! Sorry for the late greeting. Hope you enjoyed your special day. Hope you enjoy the grapes and the wine. Fun! And love the great dog! Blessings to you, sweetie! :D

Locusts and Wild Honey said...

Happy, happy birthday to a wonderful writer, a kind soul, and a dear friend!

Many happy returns!

Heidi Mann said...

Happy birthday, Becky! Well, I guess it's Sept. 2 now as I write, but it feels like the first still because I haven't been to bed yet! Anyway... hope it was a great day!

"Mucous-y," huh? Can't say as I've ever EVER thought of grapes that way!! Those muscadines must be something else!!

Love the new, autumnal background to your site, too! You are so very creative!

Graceful said...

First of all, happy birthday to you -- one day late! I hope it was wonderful.

Secondly, your grapes are AMAZING. That is the coolest thing ever. And I love your details about growing grapes. I am impressed with the Ramsey man and YOU!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

MANY happy returns of your special day! I never knew so much of this--fascinating and I'll never look at a bunch of grapes the same way again.

Jenny said...

Happy Birthday Rebecca...or I should say Belated Birthday! I LOVE muscadine grapes too, and they were also brought into my life by way of my husband. The house we first lived in when we first got married had these grapes all along the fence line. And to my amazement my hubby knew all about their picking and turning these lovelies into the best jam I have ever had. But now we no longer live at that home and you make me long to see their delicate strong curly tendrils curve their way in growth and hope, bring in such sweet glorious fruit. and YES! keep the name Hopeful Dog vineyard and I would gladly buy a bottle of that wine. Again here's hoping you had joyful celebrations on your b-day.

LW said...

I hope you had a wonderful day…
Love the name on your dh’s wine label.


Susan said...

Happy Birthday. "if they have to struggle, they bear more fruit", I love this phrase and I'd like to think that applies to us also. Once again, have a happy birthday and a great weekend.

Karyn said...

Happy birthday! Your grapes are beautiful! I'd say you both did a great job!