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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Stealing Grapes

Air Date: Week of September 25, 1998

As the temperatures start to dip, many of us try stealing away, to capture any remaining warmth the season may yield. We cherish a sunny, Indian summer afternoon as winters' cold prepares to tighten its icy grip. But for commentator Susan Carol Hauser, the arrival of autumn prompts her to start thinking about thievery of a different nature. Susan Carol Hauser's latest book is called "Sugartime: The Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup". She comes to us from K-N-B-J in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Transcript

CURWOOD: As the temperatures start to dip, many of us try stealing away to capture any remaining warmth the season may yield. We cherish a sunny Indian Summer afternoon as winter's cold prepares to tighten its icy grip. But for commentator Susan Carol Hauser, the arrival of autumn prompts her to start thinking about thievery of a different nature.

HAUSER: The treeline south of us, the one I can see from my kitchen window, has begun to blush yellow. And on the highway to town, that red maple on the west side of the road has ignited. It is always the first to turn and the most brilliant. A match in flame, it sparks the other trees, and in a week the forest will be on fire.

Now we know it is time to go steal wild grapes. We found a cache a few years ago on the little road that leads to the peninsula across the bay from our land. We had been there in the winter, on skis. There is an old pioneer house. It kneels under a yard full of great oaks, spared the lumberjack's saw because of the homestead, and leans against a row of lilacs planted as a hedge against the prevailing Westerlies.

That frigid day, the great boards of the house glistened in hard sun and the last hank of a curtain, caught outside a broken window, moved as though by spirit in the chill breeze. This time the air is warm and sweet as we bump along the road that no one uses. Car windows open. We each trail an arm in the air, the way a child leans out of a boat and draws a line in the water.

We drive past the house, stop the car right in the road, take out our buckets, and approach the vineyard. Many things like to grow in that open patch of sun, and our feet grapple with brush and the tough weeds that keep the shoulder of every path. Balancing thus between field and forest, we pick. We get 6 pails full, enough for a winter's worth of jelly.

Finished with our task, we still do not want to go home. We want to stay a while in this hiatus, free of human boundaries, of divisions, of lines. We drive to the end of the peninsula, sit in the car, and surround it by pails of stolen grapes, a brief hedge against the passing of time. We listen to the breeze rattling in the bright and dying leaves.

CURWOOD: Susan Carol Hauser's latest book is called Sugartime: the Hidden Pleasures of Making Maple Syrup. She comes to us from KNBJ in Bemidji, Minnesota.

 

 

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