It's not about the house.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sweet Escape

Last night, when I said all those didn'ts and won'ts -- I was truly being opposite-sarcarstic, because I really and truly do not want to jinx anything. We are so close to the finish line. So that's all I'm going to be saying about that.

In the meantime, how 'bout a little good news?

We have a truly hideola, old and rusty, knocked-over-in-places chain link fence. (Good news, right?) That was going to be my first project when we moved in here three years ago. Pull the fence up and replace it with an eight-foot cedar privacy. Not for renovation value or anything, just for quality-of-life. For me. First project. Well, first project after the rotten room. And then the kitchen exploded. And then the furnace... which is all I'll say about that.

In the meantime, we planted grapevines. They bushed all over the one section where the roots are, but they've had a hard time spreading down. I tried cutting and rooting from the vines we had, but that's all I'll say about that. Finally we caved in and bought a few more vines to plant a few more places.

Of the two vines we bought, one turned out to be just a dried-up stick with no roots on it at all. We paid five dollars for it at Ocean State Job Lot, but we didn't have the receipt (who keeps receipts?), so that turned out to be one very expensive piece of kindling for the chimenea. The vine we did plant has taken root, though, so it ought to just about cover the rest of the fence by the time we can afford to pull it up (and that's all I'll say about that).

Anyway, the vines that have been there all along, we actually transplanted from our old apartment yard. We'd bought them when we first moved in there, in 2000, and waited four years harvesting nothing but dolmades (seriously, they grew all stuffed with rice and everything! it didn't take two days of preparation to concoct something edible out of them...). Just when we began to think they might actually bear fruit, we bought a house.

And that's really all I'll say about that.

We never thought to take the vines, but our old landlord said he would just cut them down behind us when we left (he was a peach, that one), so we gave it a shot. I called my green-thumbed friend Marie and she helped me dig the tap root down as far as my arm could reach it, we took about twice that length of vine above the ground, drove the whole mess over the bridge to Townville, dug a hole, and put it in.

Presto, grape vines!

That was in 2004. Last year (2006), for the first time, we actually had a couple grapes. The vines were supposed to have been one red and one white, but all the grapes we got were red -- well, Concord, actually. We figured either they were both mislabelled or else just one vine had survived. We didn't get much. I made a couple pints of jelly and that was it.

But this year all of a sudden some grapes came up green! I actually thought at first that they were ripening at an extraordinarily uneven pace, but then I remembered, duh, two vines. They ripened earlier this year -- we think it's because of all the rain we haven't had -- and they were actually already starting to dry up and fall off last weekend. A full month earlier than we picked them last year. So we spent this past week watering and watering and watering the vines, trying to plump up those early-ripened grapes as best we could, and this morning, I went out and picked them.


This is only half of them! For comparison's sake, you can see the dish soap on the left there. All those jugs and bottles in the background are Johnny's plonk experiments. He likes to try making wine out of the oddest things. Tea, honey, green tomatoes. Most of them turn out pretty good, and all of them will knock you on your ass, but he's not getting my grapes. I can have wine made from grapes whenever I want to -- how often do you get to have homemade grape jelly?

So far, I only know of a single (tiny) spider that I brought in with them.

And that's all I'm going to be saying about that.


jen said...

I. A'Love. A'Grapejelly.
Seriously. I am drooling over here. And, thats all IM sayin' about THAT!

cuz donna said...

Wow beautiful grapes! We have a grapevine here that my Johnnie got from an old Portugese guy about 5 yrs ago. He brought a cutting home in a bucket of water along with a fig tree cutting. They both got roots and we stuck them in the ground. The fig didn't make it but the grapevine did. We've had grapes, but they never got ripe before the birds ate them..every last one of them. This spring we thought it was dead (leaves had a nasty fungus last year) and cut it down to a foot from the ground (it wasn't dead, we jumped the gun big time... grapevines didn't bud as early as everything else this year). But what a beautiful fungi free plant we had this year growing over the arbor. No grapes though, but it is not too late for doulmathes!

cuz donna said...

Are you to young to remember the concord grape vines Grammie and Grampie had on Pershing Terr? They were huge! But Grammie was afraid to let us eat the grapes because of the bird dookie on them. She made jelly, but probably thought the cooking killed the germs... Gotta love 'er

Momie Dearest said...

Hey she let us eat them.... Guess she wanted to bump us off! She would actually give us a wax bag(pre plastic) of them to eat on the way back to school after lunch. (walking uphill both ways 4 times a day)

EGE said...

I don't know if I actually remember the vines at Grammy Ferg's or if I just know about them. But oh my goodness when I make the jelly I think of her every year...

Georgetown House said...

You have just clinched it for me: I AM putting grapevines up in the backyard. We have this big... well, the house used to be a boarding house for the baseball players at my school, and they built this giant 4x4 and chicken wire stand-alone fence in the back of the yard as a backstop. It's got a huge mass of sweet autumn clematis growing on it right now, plus a couple of climbing roses, but the roses can be moved and I'll work around the invasive clematis. I just can't stop drooling over those grapes...