Picking Grapes With Hilo

Fall                                       Waxing Blood Moon

As the sun went down this evening, I picked grapes.  Picking grapes reaches back in time, especially wild grapes, as these are.  It reaches back to our hunter-gatherer past, a past much longer than our post neo-lithic, agricultural and urban  world.  This vine grows here because it can.  Maybe someone planted grapes long ago here, but these small grapes, almost like miniatures, offer themselves in the eons old rhythm of plant reproduction.

To get at the clusters, all smaller than the palm of my hand, I found it easier if I first removed a covering of vines and leaves that obscured the grapes.  Do these leaves shade the grapes, keep them from desiccating too soon?  Is there some part of the grape’s maturation that requires a cooler, shadier environment?  I don’t know, but the layering of leaves, then grapes up near the main vine, where it crawled across the top of the six foot fence we have toward the road, appears intentional, at least intentional in the way that evolution works through its blind selection of more adaptive characteristics.

Hilo, our smallest whippet, accompanies me when I work outside.  She hangs around and watches me, wanders off and finds something smelly to rub on her shoulder, watches other animals go by on the road.  Her companionship also reaches back into the  paleolithic when humans and shy wolves began to keep company, fellow predators brought together by the similarity in the game they hunted and the also similar method of hunting in packs.

This time of year, the early fall, would have been good then too.  The food grows on vines and on trees, on shrubs and certain flowering plants.  Game eats the same food and becomes fat, a rich source of nutrient.  My guess is that there was a certain amount of anxiety, at least in these temperate latitudes, for the older ones in clan would know that winter comes after this time of plenty and that somehow food had to be preserved.

Kate takes the grapes and turns then into jelly and apple-grape butter.  The act of preservation, though now more sophisticated technologically, was essential back in the days prior to horticulture and agriculture.

The resonance among these fall related acts and our distant past adds a poignancy mixed with hope to them.  We have done it, we do it, others will do it in the future.  As the wheel turns.

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