Monday, October 27, 2008

Bats and Spiders and Snakes...oh my.

Happy Halloween from Templeton. We take the holiday very seriously here. No fake decorations for us. Our pumpkins have seeds, our hay is for horses, and our creatures of the night are real!

We have a bat. "He" lives directly above the front door. He poops directly below the front door. And he has acquired a taste for giant insects that live here, too. We have retrieved no less than three giant bug heads from the porch since bat"man" moved in. He leaves the head and pincers behind. Now you know, some parts of a bug you just don't eat.

We also have lizards. They are the invited guests of Artsie. He befriends them, and brings them home to recover from their injuries. You see, nearly all of them are missing their tails. What a good kitizen you are, Mr. Cat.

We also have tarantulas. October is the month they migrate. They go from point A to point B, and they inch their way over whatever ground lies betwixt the two. They are completely harmless...if you don't see one and run away screaming so fast you trip and fall.

We have rattlesnakes as well. They eat gophers. And as you know, we also have coyotes, which eat snakes and cats, which eat gophers which feed snakes. Such are the rock, paper and scissors in the "game" of life.

No ghosts, no bleeding eyeballs, no skeletons, no witches (unless you count that woman at Citibank) and no need to decorate for Halloween here, boss.

Templeton, after the harvest, is paradise...if by paradise you mean a place fricking scary as Hell!

Speaking of harvest... this year we pulled 15 tons of fruit. Our estimated yield was 10-12 tons, so 15 tons is good. Really, really good. For those of you not familiar with agricultural terms, "to pull fruit" means a crew of knife-wielding Mexicans deftly coax bunch after bunch of grapes off the vines, hurling them into bins a'waiting. Up and down every row they go, until, mere hours later, a big honkin' truck loaded with 30,000 pounds of grapes escorts the purple little bundles to their new life first as juice, then as wine. And the pickers themselves are also the next vineyard. They will not stop working until the grapes are gone.

We all know wine is made from grapes, but when we drink it we rarely envision knife-wielding Mexicans, do we? We picture Lucy Ricardo with her skirt tucked between her legs, or if you're old enough, that jolly man who called himself "That Little Old Winemaker...Me," or maybe you picture the Sunmaid Raisin lady with her big basket of fruit and her sunny bonnet, and think wine grapes are probably harvested by one of her sluttier friends.

However you imagine the journey from grape to wine, take the time to be thankful for people like me who selflessly lose money year after year growing grapes, Mexicans who risk giant pinching bugs, hairy spiders and venomous snakes to get them off the vine, hemorrhoidal truckers who ship them, and the winemakers who, lord have mercy, try to negotiate a treaty between the gods of art and science in an effort to transform tiny balls of juice into the juice of balls.