Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Taming the wild mustang...grapes, that is

Wolf Meadow
John Stewart, of Kingston Trio fame, wrote a song entitled "July, You're a Woman" that evokes the essence of the month of July, when the trees and shrubs are leafed out and full, the heat has settled in for the duration, and the cicadas and locusts sing night and day. 

This summer we had good rains all through June, so the Ranch is green and the trees in the pecan bottoms are heavy with mustang grape vines and fruit.

Sterling & Charles
Brian declared last evening to be community grape-picking time, so after supper we gathered at the Pavilion and headed down to the bottoms.  The past year has been so rainy, turning the bottoms into a mire, that I had not been down for months.  At the first turn we sank into the cool air that collects among the gigantic native pecans along Yegua creek.

The smell is wet and sweet, like no other place on the Ranch.

Picking in evening light
The evening light slanted through the trees, even though it was only about 7:15, a reminder of how quickly the light changes after the solstice!

Brian had scouted out the locations where the berries were (and the poison ivy wasn't) and stationed our pickers accordingly.  Charles, Diana, Brent, Jerry, and Michael took one locale, and Phil, John, Sterling, Sandy, Natalie, Alan, Julia, and Kara took another.

We laughed about the I Love Lucy episode when Lucy participates in an Italian grape-stomping, with predictable results.  Jerry and Charles got into matters spiritual and we all agreed that next spring we will again have a proper seder meal.

Natalie's proud of her harvest
Phil spent his time perched on a ladder throwing clusters down below, where others picked off the grapes and put them in containers.  Others went for the low-hanging fruit.

Sandy and Sterling pulled on ropes to bring the vines closer to the ground for easier harvest.  Sandy took a tumble.

After I had my pictures, and the light was getting dim, I began walking home.  I could have cut from the meadow we were in to the Village in five minutes, but I elected to walk the long way around--about a mile--for the sheer pleasure of it.

Sandy tumbles down
I could hear the laughter as the grape pickers bantered back and forth as I walked.

Today we'll start making mustang grape jelly, which we haven't made for years.

July's a good month at the Ranch.

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