Harvest at Hickory Hill Vineyards

Vineyard Log, Spring 2018

Like so many people, I have always found the ocean to be absorbing to all my senses and renewing to my body, spirit & soul.

As a child and youth, I was taken two or three times a year to the Atlantic beaches of South Carolina and Florida, and in adulthood, I sought out Wrightsville, Carolina, and Kure Beaches to renew my spirit, often dragging my telescope and entire desktop computer along to take advantage of the catharsis.

On one particular moonless night in the early 1980s, on an ephemeral walk along star-lit Holden Beach, a bioluminescent tide came in, and my footsteps glowed. I raced back into the beach house to rouse my friends. We turned off the TV and all the lights, to properly prepare the dubious crowd, then I lead them back out to the beach. We spent the next disbelieving hour laughing and dancing along the surf, for the faster we ran or the harder we stomped, the brighter the bioluminescence briefly glowed beneath our feet.

Those who live by the ocean may experience such moments of euphoria with more regularity, but perhaps, unless they are dog-walking, bipolar artists, they may fall prey to the never-ending human capacity to make the extraordinary mundane. We stop staring. Long looks are reduced to mere glances, the mind’s screen displays our more important internal thoughts as we only, barely-consciously, avoid stepping on objects along the surf line of the beach. The silent but glorious shooting star, the spinning in air dolphin leap, the rare green flash of a sunset, all are missed by those not looking.

A winning lottery ticket of emotion, forever lost by eyes that did not see, carried away on life’s winds and circumstantial tides to some mystic beach where the universe gathers the experiential flotsam of silent tears, unlaughed-at jokes, and unrequited longing.

All fine and well, and just as well, you may ask what any of this has to do with growing grapes in a vineyard.

A cloud is 1%. Flip 1%, the number from 99 to 100 on a humidity scale, and you change an airy vapor into a visible cloud. The sky is an immense ocean of water vapor; an ever-changing vista of glorious colors, grand designs and a never-ending god-like play of light and shadow. Clouds don’t float by like static, wind-propelled icebergs. They are sea-foam on waves that ripple, shifting to and fro on invisible riptides and shredded by fickle breezes. The sky breathes, if you watch closely, as if the earth itself is sighing in slow motion. But only if you turn off your mind’s screen. Only if you stop, and look up, like a tired soul, driving for hours to finally arrive on vacation at the seashore and needing…no, desperately craving to soak up every ray, drop and grain of the vista as if it were the last you would ever see. Unable to move, rooted in a spot and anchored in the moment, your arms and spirit spread out autonomically, letting all the cares wash away in a long silent embrace.

This is the life of a grapevine, looking up at the sky. Sun. Food. Water. Breath. Magic.

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