Vineyard log, Winter 2019

(me in Virginia Tech vineyard seminar) “I adore pruning.”

(young fellow student in class ) “Yeah, sure. Numb fingers in the freezing cold, the canes thwapping you in the face. You’ll come to hate it soon enough.”

(me) “I’ve been pruning for twenty years. When do you think this hate will kick in?”

Pruning is one of the most wonderful times in the vineyard. It is quiet. The world leaves you alone in peace. Each vine gets its own moment of love, its few minutes of focused study, bare naked of leaf and bug and sweat distractions. It is part forensic (why did you die?), part medicine (trim out the weak, favor the strong) and part zen philosophy (How do we wish to grow in life, vine?)

For a boy who wanted to run away and live on an island, then discovered you really can’t, the vineyard in winter is pretty dang close.

Sheets of clouds are the winter norm. The big fluffy cumulus are not as common. The sheets of ice and snow seem to match the sky.

Once you have sized up the vine, the routine is pruner clipping, which are like small by-pass lobbers. It is hard to believe how they used to use saws for this task.


Your mind wanders. Thumb on cordant, 2 buds, snip. Put the canes in the trailer. Rewrite those two sentences again. This imagery would work there. What are that character’s motivations? Why would they do it that way, it wasn’t one of the emotional markers I had assigned to them. Better to have the other character suggest that.

Next vine.


Getting dark. Park the tractor & trailer. Time for chicken soup, grilled cheese, and a St. Emilion beside the woodstove at the writing desk for the evening. To get those thoughts down, while they still sing in your mind, before sleep and the chores of the next morning erase the clarity.