The Grape Harvest by Adelaide Nardone

Grapes and the circle of life …

As we approach the precipice of autumn, I am reminded of the grape vines that flourished in my Grandparents’ back yard. It was remarkable that these immigrants, who were at one time the owners of large farms in Italy before the war, were able to still cultivate a “small” suburban farm in their home in NY. That tiny back yard bared the fruit of fig trees, tomatoes, basil and last but NOT least; red grapes.

Nardone Grape Vines

Delizioso

Making “jelly” was a huge project that was undertaken every fall, under the direction of my Grandmother. It consumed an entire weekend as it was a multi-step process.

1.  Harvesting the grapes … picking them from the vine, which was messy and tedious
2.  Washing the grapes and placing them in a HUGE metal pot
3.  Cooking down the grapes on my Grandmother’s big porcelain stove in the basement
4.  Extracting the juice from the cooked grapes by separating them from the skins and pits very carefully so not to stain everything in the path of the red grape juice
5.  Adding sugar and appropriate ingredients until the texture and sweetness were just right. This was trial and error since my grandmother did NOT use recipes
6.  Placing the “jelly” in the multitude of “jars” that had been saved over the year. They were jars from peppers, artichokes, pickles, etc. of every shape and size. They were disinfected by boiling
7.  Once the hot liquid jelly was poured into the jars it was “sealed” with hot wax and then closed
8.  The “jelly” was then allowed to cool and solidify
9.  The homemade jelly would be distributed to family, neighbors, friends and even teachers for their enjoyment …
10.  Some years the jelly was “delicious” and some years it was “tolerable”

As I look back at this painstaking task, I see some symbolisms to the circle of life itself:
We grow up and hopefully mature. Finally, when we are “ripe,” we are “picked” and formulated into something that is beneficial, and even pleasing to others, until we are no more …

The process renews itself yearly with new grape seedlings, allowing our legacy to continue….

© 2018

By | 2018-10-12T14:01:53+00:00 October 18th, 2018|Family, Guest Author|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Peter Voccio JR. October 22, 2018 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Ed,

    Only the old timers appreciated the love of the land that provided so much. The love of time, patience, toils and sharing with family and friends. Thanks for sharing. I am sure the teachers loved the fruits that the vines produced and a lot of hard work that went with it.

    • Ed October 22, 2018 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Yeah, they loved their plants. That’s why they thrived … both plants and the planters. Kids loved the grapes to eat off the vine or toss at the enemy in grape fights

  2. Howard Weldon October 24, 2018 at 11:06 am - Reply

    When I lived in Rumford, we went for rides through Rehoboth, Swansea in the fall and noticed wild grapes growing. The first year we filled many bags and made our first attempt at making and preserving grape jelly. It was a success and we began to put other food by. Each year thereafter, it was my job to ride the back roads and gather the grapes. The vegetation was so thick I just threw a 6 foot ladder into the brush and picked the grapes. Although not quite the same as Adelaide experienced it brought back memories. Her statement regarding “the circle of life” to me was extremely on target and quite profound! Thank You Adelaide. I will use that statement in my visit to my Counselor at the VA today. The statement clarified the thoughts about the upcoming discussion.

    • Ed October 24, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Very nice. Thank you!

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