Friday, January 30, 2015

Cutting The Mustard

Before the new growth appears, just as the buds begin to swell, wild mustard consumes the rows in the vineyards. It makes quite a spectacle for the eye and quite a burden for the grape grower. I am told it is a noxious weed, but I await each early spring with joy hoping to capture the glowing contrast between the shimmering yellows and deep browns and greys of the root stock--- a feast for a photographer, a ten star metaxa for a painter. 
Last Saturday Catherine and I had such a day. We had set out on this specific journey, never hoping to be so successful. It was getting towards the late sun when, upon pulling into a ranch  to turn the car around, we looked east and saw this awesome sight: mustard that topped the car windows, with even a small pinkish flower at its base. We both gasped. The rancher strolled out, but instead of being rudely ordered to leave his land he invited us to follow him along a tractor trail to a deeper part of the vineyard where the mustard grew even higher.    

Since I've lived up here I note that some vineyards spray roundup between the rows to control the mustard. Others bring in sheep to eat it. But at this particular vineyard, which turned out to be 54 years old as well as organic, the rancher only used a mechanical cutter. He confided that he planned to cut the very next day. The following day, he told us, he would plow in the other direction in the rows. Not only were these grapes organic, it was dry farming. Not a bit of irrigation water was used. 

We revelled in our wonderful fortune. An awesome day. We topped it off with turkey on a bagel and frozen yogurt. Its a day I will never forget. 

My new eye doctor up here tells me this week that I have wrinkles on both of my retinas, which may or may not be worrisome. My eyes were squinting and bulging so at the sight above I would not be surprised if the mustard caused it. 

No comments: