Welcome to my ramblings...

Come with me as I travel through the real places of my life and into the steep, switch-back roads of the imagination. Join me. You'll be good company and your thoughts are welcome.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow what?

Most years, there's time after the holidays to clean up and think about resolutions, stop eating so much and get back to regular exercise. But when snow comes early in January, it's like adding holidays on holidays.

Snow is not the problem, it's the winter storm that brings high wind and low temperatures: this year, down to 4 degrees.  Thank you NOAA and the Weather Service, and especially our local Ray's Weather for the advance notice!

When first predictions come, we hurry to get the car ready, stack firewood, stock the pantry and cancel and reschedule. If there's to be wind, we locate candles and fill a tub with water.

 When the flakes start falling, it's time to be home, and hopefully with no place to go.
It's time to be settled in and warm with a favorite pass-time, like a good novel. Start a fire in the fireplace.
There is nothing more beautiful than a pristine snowfall, unspoiled and soft.
But when the sun comes out, it's time for fun. Some think of hiking, others of sledding.
See that hill over there? Where are the sleds? Making tracks in the snow burns holiday calories.
 Till shadows fall and temperatures drop to dangerous levels and the pond begins to freeze.
There's always tomorrow.
Wish dogs could understand frigid temperatures, because they sure love the snow.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Annual Grape Harvest

Labor Day is for Labor! At least it is here. By September 1, some part of our grape crop is peaking.
Warren removing the netting with care
After two years of losing whole crops to critters (birds, turkeys, deer, raccoons, and who knows what else), Traylor added bird-netting to our two most productive rows this year. It worked. We were able to maintain and reap a big harvest.

Uncovering the protected grapes 

Traylor harvesting Foch grapes early September, 2016

Chambourcin grapes
 At harvest-time, we welcome the help of friends and extended family. It's a big job, but we enjoy the work and the fellowship.

Paige harvests while her dogs rest in the shade

Foch clusters

Chambourcin clusters

Ruth and Tom work a Chambourcin row.

Seyval fruit ripening

Seyval grapes protected by netting, still ripening

The Crew: Warren, Tom and Paige Ghareeb, Ruth and Traylor, fun times
Best in show

De-stemming makes for stained hands

An occasional spider hides within clusters. Warren dislikes

Each one gallon bag of grapes makes about 4 cups of grape juice which we convert to jelly. It's a process. We freeze the grapes to preserve freshness until we can get through the stack, working mostly on rainy or windy days when we want to be inside. Nineteen gallons this year.

Nineteen Gallon Bags of Grapes Labeled and Ready for the Freezer
Are you wondering when we will start making wine? Well, have you tasted the jelly?

Dozens of boxes of delicious grape jelly have been added to the cellar by November

The vineyard after twelve years
This is an experimental vineyard and the current mission is to learn through trial and error which grape vines produce best in our soil and climate in Ashe County. So far, the three shown above: Foch and Chambourcin (red French-American hybrids) and Seyval (white French-American hybrid) have been the most successful. Many other varieties have been ripped out and replaced. 

In summer, fog blankets the vineyard many mornings but lifts by mid-day.
Fall paints the vineyard and all its surroundings.

Early snow sends in the vineyard into hibernation.

Spring comes at long last to warm the cool vines.

If you believe that life is not about the destination but the journey, this has been and still is an exhilarating romp.