Saturday, July 10, 2010

Green alchemy

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin is a beautiful ruby red, with a smell and flavour that reminds me of black current jam on toast. It's a big red, alright. These grapes are grown on older vines, so they produce less fruit, with highly concentrated flavour that "explode on impact in the mouth".

A miracle, don't you think, this alchemy that turns grapes into wine.

The shoots that grow the grapes grow directly out of the trunk, with no support from a trellis system.  The gnarly head vines remind me a bit of corkscrew hazel.

I've been reading Second Nature, by Michael Pollan, subtitled 'A Gardener's Education'.  He muses about the suburban landscape, the gentleman farmer, and his own backyard: "What I'm making here is a middle ground between nature and culture, a place that is at once of nature and unapologetically set against it; what I'm making is a garden".

Not sure if it fully qualifies as memoir, but it has many recollections about his growing up, and of gardens in his past and present.  I couldn't believe this sentence, because it seemed stolen from my personal memory:

Whenever I needed to be out of range of adult radar, I'd crawl beneath the forsythia's arches... and find myself in my own green room.

I had a forsythia in my own backyard growing up, and spent a lot of time in this hidden room one summer.  I think I first discovered the green chamber during a game of hide and seek.  No one found me, and I couldn't believe the riddle of finding a place where I could be so hidden in plain view. Growing up I didn't have a space to call my own - six kids and four adults in a four bedroom house make things "cozy".  When I discovered this hiding place it was a secret I didn't share for weeks.  Then someone saw me creeping inside the branches, and soon all the kids wanted to cram inside.  I would go there expecting solitude only to find two or three other small bodies huddled within.

But before it was a shared destination, it was my personal magical spot.  Cooling on a hot summer day, the smell of dirt and growing things. My own territory, small as it was.  Light shining through the leaves and turning them into stained glass.  Escape. A place made just for me, awaiting my discovery. 

Maybe that is part of the reason I love my garden so much now, and just being there surrounded in the green.

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