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Be Careful What You Ask For

I asked my cousin to dig me up a little section of root from underneath our late uncle’s majestic fig tree, which was the only plant left in his back yard. He did, and I put it in sand over the winter and in the spring three tiny leaves shot out right on schedule. But they were not fig leaves. Still, since they came from my favorite uncle’s yard I put them in dirt in a clay pot in a raised planter where I could easily give them water and love. Grapes are fast growing so pretty soon I had to put the pot on the ground by my shed and run rope up to the roof for the vine to climb.

The next day the pot was still there, but there was not even one leaf on the grapevine. Ground squirrels had come and eaten every bit of green and bark right down to the dirt. So I put the pot of dirt back in the raised planter, planning to recycle the soil when I got around to it. I went on a trip and came back to find that the vine had regenerated and leafed out and was looking as healthy as can be. Now it is 8 years old and it has been providing the whole neighborhood with sweet and yummy seedless grapes every year.

I asked for a fig and got a prolific grape vine instead.

  • How long do you think a grape vine can live?

    • 5 to 10 years
    • 50 to 100 years
  • How many bunches of grapes usually grow on one vine?

    • 40
    • 15
  • How many grapes are there on average in one bunch?

    • 200
    • 75
  • How much water do grapes contain?

    • 40%
    • 60%
    • 80%
  • Do you like grapes?

    • Yes, a lot.
    • Yes, a little.
    • Ugh, no.

What do you think?

17 points

Written by Ann Hartley

The whiskered cat is a lucet, a mediaeval tool still in use today to hand weave I-cord, which you see coming out of the hole in kitty's head in my profile photo.  I hand carved this lucet a) to see if I could, b) because I needed a lucet, and c) because I didn't see any cute cat lucets for sale online.  I weathered it a bit (is "distressed" the correct term?) because  that seems to be the trend these days, and because it is probably going to get banged up anyway.

I like to camp and as my late husband's motto was "If you have seen one tree, you have seen them all!" and he has been gone ten years now I have gone on a camping frenzy of late.  Love it!  One of my challenges is to find ways to take my interests camping with me.

Cats:  Why do I list cats as an interest but not have one?  Because I am nomadic and even when I am not camping, I have trips to take from my summer residence to the winter one, and then there is spring, and my favorite season fall.  Can't expect cats to put up with all of that moving around.  Not getting up at 5:30 to feed something just because it meows, either.  But I can draw and paint them, carve them in wood, and weave them in tapestry.   That and I am blessed to have friends with cats.  The cats, of course, know I belong to them and those other people are just their caretakers.  Right?

Camping:  I cannot take golf with me camping either, but all of my other interests I can.  I can take a lucet, a small tapestry loom, tools for drawing,  painting, and carving, and live plants if I'm not crossing state lines.  All that and I can still fit in a comfy pillow, fresh sheets, and a double sleeping bag.

This is the first year that I have taken beet kvass and kombucha with me on a camping trip and it worked fine.  My favorite picnic lunch is home-made sprouted grain bread, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, sauerkraut, kvass, and kombucha with nuts and chocolate for dessert.  Of course I take a sub-zero ice chest and when I come out of the forest my first stop is for a double-double cheeseburger with caramelized onions.  Yep.

Plants:  Unlike cats, plants are pretty easy going about the travel.  I just take cuttings, and where legal, of course, transport them with me.  Almost all the plants I like are fast-growing nutritious edibles that come from cuttings or regenerate from scraps, so I am constantly experimenting with and learning about these little green guys.

Fermentation:  Fermentation is not only and age-old and effective way of preserving food for safe consumption, but it adds nutritional value.  So I take diverse kinds of fermented food on trips and it grows along the way and keeps and if it doesn't get eaten right away there will be more of it for later.   I also like to take pictures of and write about different kinds of food that I have fermented, so I won't enumerate them all here.

Weaving and other arts:  There isn't a wholesome art form that I've met that I didn't like, but I have some training in drawing, painting, and fabric arts, and have just recently decided to learn something about woodcarving because I have recently taken an interest in weaving and needed some custom tools, which I've found to be fun and easy to make.  For years I avoided weaving in part because it looked very expensive, but then I discovered repurposed fabric yarn, particularly "tarn" which is twine made from old t-shirts and the like.

Golf:  I read 19th century writer Sarah Cleghorn's prize winning poem "The golf links lie so near the mill / That almost every day / The laboring children can look out / And see the men at play" back when I was a starving college student and resolved never to play golf and ended up living near a luxurious golf course for 30 years without ever playing.  But we grow and change.  When I was a kid the other kids loved to play marbles but I didn't have any, so a 6-year old friend loaned me hers and told me to go play for "keepsies" and win and give hers back and keep the rest.    What if I lose, I asked her.  I was terrified.  She said she was willing to take a chance.  I didn't believe in myself then, but she believed in me.   Pretty soon I had lots of marbles.  The friend who taught me to play golf was in his 90's when I met him and he told me before we even started that if I learned to play I would soon be making money.  He believed in me.  Hey, I don't make a lot, just enough to cover my entry fees, balls, tees,  and a new club every year or two.  But now I love to play golf and as there is a positive correlation between golfing and longevity, I plan to play it for a long time.   I had the best of teachers.

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  1. We had a wonderful fig tree when we moved here and air-layered several branches for more trees. One winter the main tree didn’t make it. How glad we are that we grew more! From those we’ve grown many more and given them to friends. Now we have 8 trees and are looking forward to this year’s harvest. So maybe it’s time to try grapes. I wish I could give you one of our fig trees!

    • Oh, thank you, but I did in fact take stem cuttings from uncle’s fig tree and 3 of them took and made it knee high and one even waist high, but they were in the desert and a well-meaning friend came by while I was away on a trip and she saw my water spout set to ON not realizing that it was controlled by the solar sprinkler system so she turned it OFF, for reasons that escape me. Both neighbors were also out of town so every single plant except the grapevine was dead by the time I got back. The grape almost didn’t make it and had just a few teeny tiny grapes that year, but the year after it was effulgent again.

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