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.