There are five properties on the dirt road that leads from Pine Mountain Road to our place.
Two places have vineyards, both located past us. Traffic on the road follows the seasons. It’s quiet in the winter until pruning time comes, the first of many annual chores. Crews appear throughout the spring and summer for various tasks.
In late August the early morning rumblings of semis announce harvest time has arrived. The trucks going down with a heavy load are loud, but their return trips are even louder with the rattle of the empty grape boxes. Each year, I’m reminded of how glad I am that we’re early risers.
We have grapes, too, but only enough for eating and to share with others, although our old-fashioned grape varieties have seeds and aren’t popular with many. They are part of our own harvest season that, like all things involved in farming or gardening, is always unpredictable at best.
This year, after making the difficult decision not to grow commercially, we cut our garden area by half. To our surprise, the harvest that began with a trickle of yard long beans and the first small squash quickly grew to baskets of okra, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, patty pan and crookneck and some enormous watermelons. The fruit trees are heavy with apples, pears and figs. Brown bags of pears rest in the cool house ripening, the apple trees are nearly ready for picking, and the figs will shortly follow.
A few days ago, an old Kansas friend asked, “Do you realize how lucky you are to live there?”
Tish, a wheat farmer and daughter and granddaughter of wheat farmers, loves Kansas and has never lived anywhere else. We’ve stayed in touch with email, Facebook and an occasional phone call. Tish reads the columns I occasionally forward to her and also sees the pictures I post online. She admires the mountains and the rocky beaches, but what really impresses her is the diversity of what can grow here.
Her question reminded me of a visitor we had more than 25 years ago. It was just about this time of year. My daughter who lived in San Francisco brought a friend with her to spend time in the country. Ami was a newly minted attorney, just getting started after finishing law school.
It was a warm August afternoon. I took Lisa and Ami on a walking tour. We ended by winding our way to the grape arbor to cool off in the shade under the heavily laden vines. Ami was well over six feet tall. He reached up and picked a large bunch from overhead. Standing there, we passed the grape cluster back and forth, sharing the sweet, dark grapes.
Looking down at the pastures below us and up towards the barn across from our house where some of our tall redwoods stand guard, slowly Ami shook his head.
“Wow,” he said. “This is the Garden of Eden.”
Certainly there are troublesome times when I may have momentary doubts and wish I was elsewhere. One winter the high winds of a tremendous rainstorm ripped off the roof of a third of our house. Another time, heavy rains sent over a foot of mud across the road. For nearly two weeks, we kept a vehicle down at the gate to the county road. Morning and night we hiked the mile to and from our house through rain and mud.
When hard times come, I remind myself, “This too shall pass.”
Seasons will still come and go and I will still silently repeat, “Don’t forget how lucky you are.”
After all, as Ami said, it’s pretty close to the Garden of Eden.
Pamela Tinnin writes from her ranch on Pine Mountain. She can be reached at email@example.com.