When you buy a house, it always comes with extras.
We were lucky.
Along with the usual host of homeowner-nightmare extras,
That Old House also came with antique grape vines.
Locals, who are even older than I,
say these grapes were growing here when they were mere sprouts themselves.
Like a lot of things at That Old House,
these grape vines know how to thrive on benign neglect.
No fertilizer, no insecticide, no pruning, no watering.
Tough love, baby. We don't pamper our plants.
And still, the vines popped out thousands of adorable chubby offspring.
|2010, and I spy a couple of nascent raisins in the bottom of this shot.|
The grapes are at the end of our driveway,
where they get every bit of sunshine Mother Nature frisbees our way.
Sunshine is what lets these happy green guys:
turn into these happy purple-y blue guys:
It prompts these sad looking near-nekkid sticks:
|2010. I can tell by the cars in our driveway, and the still-yellow house.|
to turn into these lush leaf-covered beauties.
But you already know that.
So what's this post about?
Below, my family - my siblings and their spouses -
harvesting the 2010 crop of grapes on a perfect September day.
My Dad, then 90, was supervising.
Pop was very fond of these grapes.
He'd check on them at least weekly, waiting for them
to reach the stage where he could just pluck them right off the vine,
for a taste he remembered from his childhood.
"I could eat a loaf of bread, and a jar of my Mom's jelly after school,"
he told me. ". . . but I don't have a sweet tooth."
Sure, Pop, because there's no sugar in jelly!
After I made jam out of the 2010 crop of grapes,
I wondered how my grandmother kept her patience.
My Dad made a valiant effort to eat most of the jelly I made in 2010,
sometimes right out of the jar with a spoon. But I've still got some
in the refrigerator in our cellar; we aren't big jelly eaters,
and my best customer passed away in February of 2011.
I have what my Mom called "a heart picture,"
kept in my memories, of my Dad getting out of our car,
and detouring to the sagging trellis to check out the growing grapes.
That memory makes me smile.
But for the next couple of growing seasons, we ignored our grapes.
They made me sad.
We left the harvesting to the birds.
Aggressive foreign vines moved in on the grapes' turf, and by this year
the grapes were very nearly choked out by the weedy vandals.
I have no pictures of the grape trellis so overgrown with squatter vines;
not something I was proud of.
Clearing out of so many vines seemed impossible.
Enter Anne. Our designer daughter.
Anne has a love of knowing how stuff works
and a can-do attitude that is very much like her Pop-Pop's.
She likes Scientific American and Popular Mechanics as much as ARTnews and Vogue.
Anne doped out the grape arbor, took the loppers away from her Dad, and set to work.
Below, just one of the piles of vandal vines she cut off at the roots and hauled out of the trellis.
In less than 4 hours, she was done.
Watching her is one of those heart pictures that I'll keep forever.
Because I know that while Anne took this on as a challenge,
she also did it for her Pop-Pop, who loved these vines.
The grapevines have been liberated!
The grapes are almost a month behind in their development,
compared to pictures I found of previous seasons' growth.
They should be well leafed out by now, with nice big green leaves.
Everything seems tardy this year:
tulips, forsythia, all the usual harbingers of spring
took their own sweet time to get into the harbinger-ing business.
So that's it for this post - a tale of deep-rooted grapevines that have passed from
family to family as part of the legacy of That Old House,
and a tale of the deep roots of a family,
with its love, with the traits that are passed from generation to generation,
and with the memories that stay rooted in our hearts.
Sunday upcoming is both Mother's Day, and what would have been my Dad's 93rd birthday.
My mother used to take it as a personal affront, and his fault, that his birthday
sometimes fell on Mother's Day. I still don't know if she was kidding.