and then the fall

November 2, 2007

the final grapes came in on Monday, and I guess that means it’s over. I’d been picking grapes for more than two months, the work pace was always kind of frantic, and there at the end of October, after woking in the cold rain, I fell ill. I still held down two jobs, working in a custom-crush facility at nights, but I was fatigued and thirsty and feverish.

The past few days, though, there’s been a cool, refreshing fog all morning, and each day I get to feeling a bit better. We transitioned immediately after finishing harvest to seeding our cover crops and installing any needed erosion control.

I like seeding cover crops, the mixing of 10 or 20 different grains and legumes and wildflowers into a half-ton picking bin and stirred with a shovel. With two of the woven plastic bags and a bit of string you can make a handy carrying bag, filled again with the seed mixture (which looks like fine birdseed or maybe some sort of nice porridge) it will weigh maybe 50 pounds and can last a month or two.

Didn’t your Jesus say something about the scattering of mustard seeds? I can tell you this: It’s a nice feeling scattering seeds into the soil, by hand. I see the owners of estates leaving early, or late in the day, or not at all from the gigantic homes, and I think about what a fine fine day in the vineyard they’ll be missing out on. The tacos at 10:00, the long break at noon to relax, the nap at 2:00 beneath a tree, what’s not to love? It’s warm enough in the morning, if you wear enough. Cool enough in the hot afternoon sun to make for a non-sweaty day.

When the rains come, the cover crops will grow, a forest of blue flowers and green peas, crimson clovers and yellow mustards. Right now, with the thick morning fog, the dew is thick enough to soak my leather boots and my barely functioning windshield wipers make me drive in the morning seated in the center of the bench, hunched over, and cursing my goddamned work truck.

I carved a pumpkin last night at my Boss’ house, the lot of us assembled and halloweened, drinking many fine Syrahs and enjoying being something, anything other than a sticky farmworker. I wore my only suit and it seemed to everyone to be a pretty exotic wardrobe for me.

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