Pause on Pulling a Vineyard

Pause on Pulling a Vineyard

The last of the vines were ripped from the earth this week, the vines that were planted the same year Donald and I were married 24 years ago. We both feel sadness in their departure. Piles of vines and trellises punctuate the middle of the vineyard. The earth is disturbed where they grew only days ago. 

They had to go. Weakened by the five year drought, they had been infected with two viruses. They were also Chardonnay grapes. We sold them for almost as much as it cost to grow them. The economics didn’t work. Cabernet brings three times the amount per ton. 

Our plan is to plant ground cover and let the earth stay fallow for a couple of years. The soil will rest from what we have drawn out. We will run the goats on it, bringing in needed animal energy (and manure).Time allows us to listen to the earth and to our own hearts and figure out what we want to do next. 

When I look at the rolling slope of the vineyard scraped down to her basics, I imagine what this vineyard and this valley used to be. Did valley oaks skip across her reaches? Was this also a a camp for the Wappo whose grinding stones we have found on the slope to the seasonal creek?  

Last night Casey, Melissa, Wesley and Sabien camped near the old pioneer cemetery, setting up their tent just as the golden eastern ridge faded in the sunset. I was driving the mule through the carnage when I came upon my grandsons running excitedly toward me, flapping pillows like angel wings. They spend the days collecting broken irrigation parts to make into light sabers. They catch baby frogs the size of peas by the small pond as they gorge on the wild blackberries rimming it. Wesley turned 8 three weeks ago, Sabien, 6 this coming Wednesday. They are not nostalgic, do not know the way it was twenty-four years ago when the small plants were the background of our wedding photos, the wedding held in the same place as their camping spot. The future is in them, in this soil that was here when the Wappo were, when Donald first thought of a vineyard, when we were married, and now. 

I ask the land: Help me dream into the future. Give me vision. I will listen.