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 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.