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kangaroo

Taste of Autumn

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Taste of Autumn

I'm getting a taste of Autumn here, deceptive for a New Englander in this hot climate, but change is in the air. I plod through the emptied chardonnay vines amidst the yellowing leaves and am transported to New Hampshire and the White Mountains. I've got a touch of melancholia and vintage isn't nearly over. Everything transforms. The seasons streak by too quickly to catch -- what is born, dies, to be reborn in a different form. Likewise the wine, memory of what preceded, is translated into something new, captured living and changing in the bottle.

Will my offspring succeed me? Will what follows match the effort expended? Does my stand matter overall? At a certain point in inebriation, and, I imagine, at the point when I die, letting go of my attachment to everyone and everything so that I can move on, will anything matter at all?

A cooling wind has risen off the sea and is shuddering through the peppermints. I stand in the gentle rain of thin purpled fragrant leaves and see signals of endings everywhere. The light is dampening and I’ve only begun. 

Last night I saw a mother kangaroo and her joey hopping across the road and to my horror the oncoming car didn’t stop until it had nicked the joey. I saw it struggling up the hill, mother zigzagging in panic. They disappeared out of sight and I was left with a dread in my heart. Could it survive that? If it did, what would it’s future be like? Was it suffering? Clearly its mother was, and I still am.

Such thoughts must be consequences of the hour and of the time.

It’s the turning of the season, the waning of the light. Dawn arrives noticeably later, and darkness falls earlier. I can smell rain on the wind, feel the prayer of the expectant parched earth. Those unbearably hot days are mostly behind us. The harvest moon is waxing towards fullness, the Cabernet is ready to come in.

In the US I’d be hearing Canada geese winging southward, the crunch of dead leaves, apple spice in the air. Endings are new beginnings. Wine is this moment, captured. The year lives in the bottle. Autumn is the death that sets up rebirth. I taste the bitter in the sweet, the dark in the light.

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What We Do When We're Waiting to Harvest...

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What We Do When We're Waiting to Harvest...

What a pretty restless time it was after canceling the pick! It was Monday morning and I became the classic Monday morning quarterback. Cloud after cloud rolled in from the Indian Ocean carrying drizzle, followed by a low grey blanket of clouds that tucked the region in with a denseness in the air. Repeat, drizzle, denseness, drizzle, denseness. Repeat elation at having not picked, despair, elation, despair. Yoyoville.

I squish through the fields to the vines for the third time and notice that the grapes are still dry beneath the canopy despite the downpour. Silvereyes are massed in the trees. A huge male kangaroo lopes lazily away at my approach. He’s harvested a little snack for himself, I notice as I readjust the bird net. I don’t remember his signing up for an allocation, but I’m delighted to share with him. We kept the fruit on an extra day just for him.

In the night the wind picks up and the rain pounds so hard, my heart pounds along. I go out into it, connect with its intensity and wonder whether the harvest will proceed in the morning. Sleep is utterly banished by the howling winds and the thought that maybe I’ve misjudged it. Have I jeopardized the entire season’s work by cancelling the pick? I pore over the radar and a stew of weather reports and go back and forth about it all. It looks like we will have a brief window in the midmorning, but will it be dry enough?

Soon enough the light comes up and the clouds have lifted. I’m noticing patches of sky! I rush out barefoot into grass that has been dried by the wind. It’s looking like a particularly perfect autumn day. A kookaburra has a good laugh and so do I. The grapes needed another day. They needed to taste the first autumn rains and a little bit of chilliness so that that could be in the wine along with everything else. 

With a lifted heart I head down to the harvest. 

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