Gratitude, with Chardonnay

Yesterday afternoon, we pressed Chardonnay grapes at Cloudlift Cellars. It was sunny and warm. The grapes came in at 4:00 instead of 6:00. It took four of us about 45 minutes to fill the press with the first load. Then two hours of waiting.

I don’t have any new pictures, because when we were filling buckets to dump in the press, we were working furiously–and we were sticky.

The wine press reminds me of a giant washing machine. We load the grapes into a big cylinder and press a button, and then it runs through its cycle. The pressed juice runs into the tray, and we pump it from there into a tank. When the cylinder rotates to shift the grapes around, the machine walks a little, the way a washing machine moves during the spin cycle.

While the first load pressed, Tom grilled burgers in the front parking lot, and then we ate dinner together by the Lake (little table with a red and white tablecloth in the back parking lot, by the chain-link fence and a very large puddle in the gravel alley).

Load two was in the press by 8:00. Another long wait, and then the washing began. In the dark. But it was warm–much better than washing up in the dark in October.

Home by 11:00 for a quick shower. Wine grapes are incredibly sticky. Tom and our son stayed to finish cleaning the press, but they made it home before midnight.

Now it’s Sunday afternoon, and time for the gratitude journal.

I’m thankful the grapes came in early. I’m thankful the weather was good. I’m thankful for the people who helped us. I’m thankful for the big press. It takes a long time, but it’s so much more efficient than our old basket press. Yes, I say this every year.

I’m thankful for the time I had yesterday before pressing started. I’m thankful for getting to have breakfast with my dad, sister, and son. I’m thankful for writing time–I passed the 10,000 word mark on my latest project. Yes, I’m thankful for all the writing time I had during the week.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to hear Esther Altshul Helfgott read this afternoon from her new book Dear Alzheimer’s, A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems. A walk down the hill and past the park to Elliott Bay Book Company, coffee with friends, meeting up with other poets, and then Esther’s poignant recounting. It was heartbreaking and wonderful. I look forward to reading the whole book. Yes, it’s going to make me cry, but I look forward to reading it.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn new things–which is good, because I have a lot to learn!

Open the door. Open my heart.

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