Rain has finally come to the Shore again. It had been close to a month since we had had any precipitation of consequence, and even when it rained strong in the rest of West Tennessee, it always seemed to go around us. We had enjoyed such a wet, mild July, it was seeming as if the calendar was just off a month, and now we would get the summer in August and September. So, if this theory holds, we may have leaves until December. Regardless of what this means for the weather of the future, the rain is here now. It has, for now, washed out the ticks and given me a slight reprieve from watering the plants. It is nice to have these days, where you get this unexpected help. Just like when you put your laundry in and dread the inevitable folding that will be waiting when the clothes are dry, and to your surprise, someone has beaten you to the dryer and folded your clothes for you (even the fitted sheets). Such relief.
I have been, this week, starting recruitment for the summer. I called my first round of deans from last year and have been fairly successful in getting in touch. Facebook has made communication so much easier than having to know when pastors and youth directors do their staff meetings or have their days off. I begin this process by contacting the deans who served last year to see if they’d like another go of it. From there, I begin filling in the holes left with people who have expressed interest in the past. Normally, this process does not end until around March or even April in some cases. My hope is to finish earlier this year. It is such relief to hear that “yes, I’ll do it,” whether it’s a voice on the phone or printed on an email. The act of marking something off a list is very satisfying. You are accomplishing things. You are moving forward.
The muscadines are almost perfect this week. These wild grapes are clinging to trees all over the property. I normally pass at least one vine on any walk I take. I’ve had a treat just about every evening that I’ve walked home. These are not like store bought grapes with soft, thin skins and no seeds. These are pretty much the opposite of that. When I was a child, I thought they were gross, because they were not what I expected a grape to be. I could not get past what I wanted to happen to my taste buds. I have since become a little more open minded in regards to food. When you pull a muscadine from the vine, look for one that is deep purple over the whole grape. Be careful when pulling one off, you could shake the vine enough to knock many others off. The skin is very thick on a muscadine, so when you bite into it, you will have to squeeze the inside out through the weakest spot in the skin. At the beginning there is a woody taste that I found very strange when I first started eating muscadines, but that I love now. If you have a good one, juice will pour out of the skin along with the pulp, and the woody taste will give way to a sweet, grapey taste (much like a concord grape). Then you work the seeds out of the pulp and spit them along with the thick skin.
I think of the treat that this is for me today, but also how long ago this was probably an important food source for Native Americans and possibly even European settlers. How this harvest that happens in September was probably an important and exciting time for many because of the new food that it brought. Here, out in the forest sat vines and vines full of food, just waiting to be plucked and eaten–all there for free–no work or money involved. No need to trade something, just there for the taking. What a relief it must have been to be walking through the forest, hungry, and come upon a vine, weighed down by hundreds of these wild grapes. There was food, there could be rest now, there was satisfaction. What relief.
This weekend we have Memphis Conference Singles for the entire weekend, and Bolivar 1st UMC Youth and Alpha Sigma Phi, Murray State doing ropes on Saturday. Pray that their time here will be a blessing. Until next time…