Monday, September 14, 2009

Some Small Gain

There's no great loss without some small gain.

I can hear the voices of my "elders"--those who have gone before me, especially the women in my family--saying these words, using them in a myriad of situations, bringing comfort and perspective in the face of tragedies big and small. I was reminded of these words today when we had our own--albeit minor--tragedy here.

Someone (something?) stole our grapes.

We have a wonderful old grapevine that faithfully produces luscious Concord grapes every year, and we had been keeping an eye on it in recent days as the grapes ripened. Fortunately, they weren't ripe during the time when we got our five bushels of peaches from a local orchard; one canning project at a time is plenty! But now the peaches have all been dealt with, and it was time to turn our attention to the grapes.

When my mother walked by the vine yesterday and checked them, she noticed that quite a few were gone from the eastern end of the vine; but lots more remained on the western side. Today, however, when she had gotten the old enamel bucket out of the cellar and a pair of clippers to cut the clusters off the vine, she walked to the grapevine and returned with this. Only this.
Out of all the gorgeous clusters that had been on the vine only a day or so ago, this was all that remained--hardly enough to cover the bottom of the bucket.

It was shocking, mysterious, and disappointing enough to make Josiah cry this morning when Mother came in and reported the news. He was finally consoled when she took him down to the cellar so he could see for himself that we still have lots of grape juice left from other years--27 quarts is what they counted. But we're left puzzled by the strange disappearance of our grapes. We don't know whether the culprit was of the winged or two-footed or four-footed variety. We've never had this problem before so there's nothing to go on in our investigation. Would squirrels or raccoons or possums climb up and consume the grapes so quickly? If it was birds, it must have been a whole flock of them to pull off such speedy destruction. And if it was a person--well, I just hate to think that it could have been that. Who would do that? When? And why?

So as we ponder our "great loss," we do give thanks for a "small gain": since the grapes are gone, we don't have to spend hours tediously pulling grapes off stems, washing them, and squeezing the juice out, then standing over a hot canner to preserve it. The project that my mother thought would occupy her week suddenly got erased from the to-do list. I wonder what she'll do with all her leisure time! :)


Sally said...

You know, I experienced something similar this year too. Our friends have vines in Singers Glen and have been giving the grapes to my family for years. This year, we went a picked a portion of the vine that was ready, and the rest of the vine was LOADED with grapes. When we went back to pick those bushels of grapes, only two buckets were there. Now, I know a person didn't pick them, and there weren't grapes all over the ground, but there were a lot of empty stem sockets on the bunches. I think something came and ate them off, probably either a opossum or a raccoon, is my suspicion. I know opossums will get up on grapevines, and we always shot them at home if they did, so I assume they will eat the grapes.

I'm sorry about your loss. I'm glad you have leftover juice in the basement, though, especially for Josiah.

Bonnie said...

How strange! We have concord grapes as well, but they are wild, and twisted around a pine tree out by the pond. All the grapes are up near the top :0( I would climb up to get them, but under the tree is the prettiest patch of poison ivy that I've seen in a while.
I'm sure the grapes are probably sour and I wouldn't want them anyway- sniff ;0P

Patti said...

When we saw the raccoon that had taken up residence in our attic (in the middle of Houston!) the mystery was solved as to what had eaten every single fig off of our backyard fig tree. I think she must have had an impressive stomachache after gorging herself so. Unless she has them stored away somewhere? Perhaps she has done some canning??

Stacey said...

That is super dissapointing, especially when the kids are watching and waiting, all I get s when do we get to pick the pumpkins and when do I get to pick my melons? I would be hard pressed to console my child if her bounty was missing. On the bright side your mom probably gets some well deserved rest in the middle of canning season.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

UGH - how frustrating. Yet, relaxing in the end, I guess.

I hope the mystery is solved before next season. Enjoy the grapes you were able to get.

Margie said...

Likely an animal, although it's odd it hasn't happened before. We grew a tiny amount of corn this year, but before it fully matured was ripped off and eaten by - we think - a raccoon. They're sneaky and hard to catch.

But, gosh, losing those delicious grapes is still so sad. Sorry Josiah cried.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone saw the beautiful blog header and just decided that it would be a good place to gather some "free" grapes!