I’m taking this weekend off from the blog, for this weekend there is a festival at our house: the Hallows Grape Stomp & Bacchanalia. And so I offer these thoughts on the harvest, early this year, as we have had a very hot summer.
It is sweet, sad September. Amber and scarlet just beginning on the leaves of trees. The decayed-honey scent of fallen foliage. Sugar-dusted grape clusters dangling from the vines in our grape arbor. In this golden month, at the time when day equals night and the world enters its slow roll toward the darkness, the empurpled grapes are finally ready for harvest.
Our Virgo Wine Mistress, Priestess of the Hydrometer, fusses. The children giggle as they rip grapes from the stem, toss them into the barrel (and at each other), and run screaming around the yard in a fine, Bacchic frenzy. The adults drink last year’s vintage as they work. They joke and gossip with each other. Then, we begin The Crush. As the grapes are stomped into juice beneath our purified, bare feet, we sing. We invoke Dionysos, the God of the Vine, the Bull-Horned One, the Mad, Honey-Sweet God of Divine Intoxication.
As we crush His purple flesh, our song is as sad and sweet as September itself. Once all have danced upon the grapes, we strain the fresh juice into the “must bucket.” There, the God’s holy blood will ferment into His own Divine wine, making our kitchen smell like grape-y bread for two delicious, heady weeks.
But tonight…tonight, the grapes have just been picked and crushed and the juice secreted away in the must bucket; and so, we dance. We dance, entranced—drums thundering—in the sweet thrall of the God, breathing the breath of the Wine Muses and loving, loving, loving the mad, human beauty of every single one of our friends.