• Tag Archives grapes
  • 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.

  • Harvest and Preservation

    Lughnasa                      Waning Harvest Moon

    It changed.  The game.  After half-time most of the time, I expected to see showed up.  How about that 64 yard run by Peterson?  Wow.  Still, it concerned me that we didn’t get more pressure on Brady Quinn.  I’m looking forward to the analysis.

    Kate has made grape juice, a lot, from the grapes I picked this morning.  Next is jelly.  I have a role in the preservation process this week.  We discovered last year that gazpacho is a perfect canned soup.  When chilled, it tastes like it was made that day.  A great treat in the middle of winter, a summer vegetable soup.

    We also several Guatemalan blue squash.  They run about a foot and a half long and 7-8 inches wide.  Heavy, too.  Taste good.   We still have parsnips (next year), turnips, carrots and potatoes in the ground, probably a beet or two hanging around, too.  Above ground we have lettuce, beans, greens and some more tomatoes.  Kate’s put up 36 quarts of tomatoes so far.

    Kate also made use of our dehydrator.  Cucumber chips.  I know, but they taste wonderful.

    There’s a lot of room for improvement in next year’s garden, but we feel good about the production this year.  Next year we should get more fruit from our orchard.

  • What Will They Do Next?

    Lughnasa                               Waning Harvest Moon

    It appears life as a Vikings fan will continue as a pilgrimage through a wasteland of frustration and dashed hopes.  In the first game of the season, at Cleveland, 4-12 or something like that last year, this supposedly Super-Bowl ready team is behind 13-10.  Behind.  Aaarrrrgggghhh.  Each pilgrimage must perforce visit the slough of despond before rising to the heights of the heavenly city (Miami this year) so we’re there early.

    On a different note.  After getting groceries this morning, I picked grapes.  Kate makes a wonderful grape jelly from our wild grapes.  They grow all over the woods, but have chosen the six foot fence for a nice run.  As I had my small shears out, cutting the purple bunches from the vine, the Rosetti painting, the Girlhood of Mary Virgin came to mind.  In the background Mary’s father, Joachim, tends to a grapevine.

    The harvest is a good time of year and I enjoy the wild harvest as well the domestic one.  This is hunter gatherer behavior, imprinted on us for millennia.  It satisfies a deep need.