Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Little Libation...

Last night I had a mixed drink for the first time in well over a year, since a Cinco de Mayo celebration last year at our house. It was a weird sort of summer drink: ice cold Grey Goose® vodka, Juicy Juice® fruit punch, and a splash of Tom Collins-style mixer. It was like what I might have had at a college frat party (I think I went to only one and it was dreadful) and was made by a friend who, many years ago, was in a frat-like club at one of the nation's most elite institutions. The drink was refreshing and I was feeling jolly enough going into a dinner with our old friends who we see once or twice a year. I didn't really need or want it but I thought, why not?

Now alcohol is not my poison by any stretch and it is something I usually avoid altogether (too bad I can not say the same of most food concoctions). I much prefer a good cold glass of 100% Welch's® grape juice to a glass of wine any day. However, I did notice how comfortable it made my speech. As I said, I was already "on"--not always the case--and this was probably the pent up adrenalin of days watching my husband and a small crew of teenagers pack and move boxes while I sort of spin around and putter here, putter there, finishing nothing. Major Moving Attention Defecit Disorder. (That's MMADD--not Mother's Against Drunk Driving.) So after watching the house collapse into heaps and boxes, I felt entitled to a bit of a nip. Just once.

My point in saying all of this is that I can take or leave alcohol. In Kentucky we live in a dry county, with only one exemption at a marina restaurant on Lake Cumberland. It's not a huge hardship. A new neighbor friend heard that I've never tried moonshine so he brought me some in a little glass jar. Fiery, gut-melting stuff. One sip. Wow. It sits in my cupboard and I could probably use it to clean paint brushes. Our neighbors on an adjacent ridge make peach brandy every summer and have invited us to partake sometime. Funny thing about Kentucky is that Bourbon County is "dry" (no alcohol served or available for purchase) and Christian County is "wet." This is a new experience for us. We have a stocked liquor cabinet but rarely "imbibe" ourselves: it is mostly full of old bottles of Scotch, half-drunk bottles of wine (all gone bad) and cooking sherry. My husband is partial to Maker's Mark® bourbon on occasion and this was well before we even considered moving to Kentucky.

In New Hampshire it looks like it will be a banner Concord grape year on our granite arbor that my husband built 20 years ago. At first he tried some varieties better suited to New York wine country. Only the Concords have been proven winners. They ripen in early October and hang in fragrant pendulous clusters of purple warmth and sweetness. We have a small pamphlet published by Storey publications years ago on grape growing that was written by Annie Proulx, author of Brokeback Mountain. I have it packed with my farm books as we plan to plant grapes in Kentucky. Almost every year for the past twelve of our marriage I have made huge vats of grape jam. There are is a blog entry in my archives about our grape harvesting and jam-making (and Annie Proulx's pamphlet). If things go right with a potential house sale, our new owners will have them to enjoy this fall.

While the grapes are thriving on their own, I have neglected the gardens all summer. Only the mint grows well in its own bed apart from the weeds. I'm having the hardest time leaving plants behind and this might be, psychologically, why I have ignored them. (Is this what we do to friends, as well, when we are about to separate? Put some distance in or neglect and not feed the friendship? I felt I have done that this summer with some old friends and it was not intentional.)

Next week I will dig a few heirloom clumps here and there--some rhubarb from the Gray Goose Farm via my apartment and then to our home when we married, some apple mint (also from the farm) via the Sawyer Farm from a clump from my grandfather. When planted in Kentucky they will be third generation pass-alongs from the original plants from my grandparents. Wild peppermint also grows in abundance near the creeks. Maybe I will try some nice crushed mojitos or some mint juleps next spring at Derby time in Kentucky. But I will mourn leaving the grapes my husband planted here, before we were married, before this house was ours together.


a Cupcake near you! said...

Catherine, you have reminded me of the last time I left our house in Nashua. I loved that house but knew anyone who lived in it would love it as well. Not so the garden. I cried walking through it the last time and swear I could hear the plants beseeching me not to leave them. They were right. Within a year everything was bulldozed to smithereens and even the gorgeous dark purple double lilac was removed with a chain saw. I didn't see it coming but they did.

So take what you love and say a little blessing of thanks to the rest. Hopefully they will continue to grow and beautify the house and feed those high falutin' bees that might be arriving shortly.


a Cupcake near you! said...

Very funny about Grey Goose vodka and your grandparents' having Grey Goose Farm! I guess that bottle of Makers Mark in our liquor cabinet can go now; I don't think we know any one else who drinks Kentucky bourbon. Dry county or no, I think Temple was meant for Kentucky all along. No doubt make his mark there. Here's to having the move finished; all who have ever packed up a household will drink to that!

Catherine Seiberling Pond said...

Well, don't throw it away yet! We will be back...

And Peaches, thanks for sharing your story. That is very lovely.

Nothing is permanent, I guess, but we can take bits and pieces along for the ride. And keep people and places in our hearts.


Melissa Holbrook Pierson said...

Catherine, I'm very sorry to report that larger-than-recommended amounts of fermented grape helped my recent move along--moving is traumatic even in the best of circumstances, as we both know. The anxiety level goes so high, a little liquid medicine is needed to bring it back down. I've returned to a more seemly amount now.

I would like to try some really good grape jelly or jam (one can do that, too, yes?) one of these days: its reputation is tarnished for me by the memory of sticky, too-sweet childhood encounters with the stuff (though I was far more interested in collecting the drinking glasses it came in.)

The berries of all sorts are ripening along the road here, which is one of the hidden presents of having moved to a new place. When I find raspberries by the barn, I feel almost as though I've found a gold ring buried in some dirt: Hey, these things cost *money* in a store!

aoc gold said...

Where Go The Boats?


Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.

It floats along forever,

With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,

Castles of the foam,

Boats of mine a-floating

Where will all come home?

On goes the river

And out past the mill,

Away down the valley,

Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children

Shall bring my boats ashore.
-----by aoc powerlevewling