Seedless grapes are one of life’s luxuries. Unfortunately, our little rural store– whose stock is based around the four redneck food groups—i.e., bologna, Cheese Whiz, Doritos, and beer– cannot oblige such exotic tastes. Thus all evening long, we munched our grapes undecorously, spitting seeds into our palms or into the sink but still crunching down on the ones we missed. Crunch, crunch, crunch, as if we were eating dog biscuits or old auntie’s canned salmon cakes, packed with little circles of fish spine. Yum. 😦
So today I am standing in front of the kitchen window, halving the remaining grapes to remove their seeds. It is a mindless, quiet task, perfectly attuned to this cold gray day. And I have the time. The visiting grandkids are still asleep, tucked under quilts that are older than anyone they have ever met, breathing in fresh, chilled air from windows I cracked—just a tiny bit—before they went to bed. I also have the inclination: I like to do what I can to make life to go as smoothly as possible, when it’s possible.
Because there are so many times when it’s not.
I could make a list—it is that time of the year, after all, time to look back and take stock. I suspect you could, too: It’s been a rough year for many of us. But the particulars aren’t important. What is important is that on this list of THINGS THAT DID NOT GO OUR WAY IN 2011 there are fewer things in the column labeled I WISH I’D DONE THAT DIFFERENTLY than there were the year before.
My burst appendix that required Keith and his buddies to cancel their annual and much beloved trip to the Chicago Auto Show? Couldn’t be helped. The electric range and then the clothes dryer that went on the fritz days after we’d depleted our bank account writing checks to pay property taxes? Not our fault. An old friend who drove home from a party and into the path of an oncoming car? Not our fault either: We weren’t at the party, and we hadn’t seen our friend for a couple of years.
Yet anytime we had seen her, she was three sheets to the wind. Did we ever tell her we were worried about her? No. Did we ever go to her family with our concern? No. If we’d done so, would it have made a difference? I don’t know.
What I do know is that there she is, in that column marked THINGS I WISH I’D DONE DIFFERENTLY.
Seeding grapes reaffirms the relationship between cause and effect, something that people who drink and drive, get invited to appear on reality TV shows, and/or run for political office tend to ignore. They prefer drama and discord to peace and equilibrium. But the Perry Farm is a drama-free zone. Maybe this is the result of the solid little house itself, all white plaster walls and casement windows that fill the place with light. Maybe it’s the people who lived here before us, salt-of-the-earth folks for whom every day was a “happy day.” Maybe it’s the abundance of space, the unobstructed view, the poor television reception, the absence of WiFi. Calm is a deep-rooted crop that grows year-round out here. It, in turn, helps to cultivate good sense: No grape seeds means no broken teeth, no broken garbage disposal, no perforated intestines.
Life has enough tricks up her sleeve. Only a fool would toss her a Ginsu knife and expect her not to catch it between her teeth and throw it back.