Normally, I trim the vines during a January thaw. There was none this year, nor one in February, either; with this warm weather, I knew I had little time to get out there and get trimming before the leaves arrived. We have 44 vines. They’re old. REALLY old, at least as far as American grapes go: they’re almost as old as the house (80+ years). They’re slipskins, meaning the skins slip right off the pulp when they’re ripe. They’re sweet, too: concords, whites.
Trimming is something of an art. I am no vineyard artist, though. I pull, I attack, I cite a mantra (“No mercy no mercy no mercy”); I stand back, appraise, start again. It’s not tough work. It’s confusing at first, but like most things, you get a good groove going.
I listen to the migrating cranes trilling overhead. I step around my scratching, pecking chickens (whom I have released and whom, I assume, enjoy my company) as they follow me from row to row. I scan the skies, looking for the golden eagle I saw earlier (from inside the house: I ran to the back yard to verify if the chickens were safely in their coop, and they were). I can hear the first of the peepers, and also hear other frogs looking for love. I think, this is so much better than working.
And I also think about how what I am doing ties me to all who have gone before me. The vines were cared for by someone else before me. The vines came from other vines, a long time ago. Viniculture IS culture, one of the oldest ones we practice. And it feels good. Snip, SNIP.