When I met a fuzzy caterpillar crawling down my driveway last week, I knew it was time to pick the grapes.
“Picking grapes.” Sigh….
Sounds like a leisurely and elegant afternoon activity, doesn’t it? Do you have a picture in your mind of reaching up to “pluck” a cluster of grapes? Hardly. My Island Belle grapes go into battle mode when they see me coming with my clippers and empty buckets.
Once I have several buckets of grapes picked, transforming them into jars of grape juice is a piece of cake. The most difficult part of the whole operation is capturing and subduing those grape clusters.
The bending, pushing, reaching, stooping, twisting, and clipping challenges any workout routine. Grapes hang on. They grab onto whatever they can find (usually another branch), and then wrap their twisty little stems in corkscrew shapes around and around it. And then around it some more.
They hide behind those big leaves that do every bit as well as a fig leaf to hide its jewels–plump, juicy, purple bunches of beads.
You need to think like a grape in order to find them. Push branches aside to get to the inside of the plant, even though those branches will fight you. Push harder! Look down low to better hiding places if you don’t see any grapes at eye level.
And then, just about the time you’re confident you’ve got this routine down, you realize that some of the biggest ones are up on top, right out in the open–while you’ve been searching inside the depths of the bush.
My grape juice gets high praise from my family, and I like all of that I can get, which explains why I continue, year after year, to put myself through this workout.
My son and his wife served small glasses of juice to guests one year, intending to only give them a wine glass sample. The guests kept asking for more.
“They drank it all!” my son complained. “They said it was the best thing they’d tasted–not the best juice, not the best drink, but the best thing they’d ever tasted!”
In the end my grapes gave me nine quarts and two pints of juice this year, but they put up a valiant fight.