When you become a farmer and begin working the land, something primal does begin to come out in you. Especially when those primal aspects have spent the majority of your life being repressed, sanitized and climate-controlled. For instance, I find myself talking to the sun. I say “Good Morning” to the sun when I am lucky enough to see it rise (which is often) and I wish it “Good Evening” as it sets and thank it for coming around that day. It feels like we and the sun are working together on this project – like it is a particularly bright and hard-working co-worker. I can totally see how our ancient ancestors developed mythologies, rituals and religions around the sun. They actually kind of make more sense to me than most of our present-day mythologies, rituals, and religions. But there is primal and then there is primal. Jules and I have developed some curiously unusual rituals over the years. But the most unusual, I guess, is that of dancing naked in our newly planted vineyards.
It started in 2004 with the planting of our first 3 acres. The grapes went in the ground in May and, to our amazement, grew throughout the season and then went dormant in the winter, just like they were supposed to. As we sat by the fireplace in the farmhouse on that New Year’s Eve, the kids were asleep and we sipped a little sparkling wine and marveled at what we had just done that year. Exactly a year ago, we were still living in Philly, celebrating the New Year as city people do. And now here we were. Suddenly we were both taken with the same urge to go look at the vineyard. So we grabbed our glasses, jumped into boots and bolted out the back door into the cold moonlight. It was a full moon and almost as bright as day as we stood out in front of the new vines. Then we looked at each other and, without a word, almost spontaneously, started taking off our clothes! I’m not sure which one of us started it but, once we had started, there was no turning back – neither of us wanting to be the one who chickened out because of the bracing cold. In no time we were laughing and jumping around and dancing in the moonlight holding hands with one hand and holding our wine glasses with the other. After about thirty seconds or so we realized that we were freezing our asses off – literally – and gathered up our clothes, sprinted back to the farmhouse and dropped, still laughing, in front of the fire.
The next year, we planted three and a half more acres in May 2005. New Year’s Eve rolled around again. Now that we had developed a planting celebration ritual, what kind of farmers would we be if we did not continue it? After all, the plants had done great after our nighttime dance in the vines last New Year’s and we did not want to tempt a bad season this year (clearly how primal rituals come to be…). So out to the back vineyard, we went, off went our clothes and we danced, frozen and laughing, in the moonlight…
April of 2019, we planted a new acre of Merlot.
And now New Year’s Eve is again only a few short days away. We gotta do it. No choice about it, really. Such is the nature of ritual. But I’ll be very glad if there is not a cold
wind on New Year’s Eve Night…