Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Promise and Prophecy of Green Shoots

Ten years ago in the depths of the Great Recession, I walked through the vineyard, saw the first shoots of spring, and took it as a good sign. I novelized the experience - the message as relevant today as then. I want to share this hope and good news with you. And wouldn't you know it - since our quarantine began several weeks ago, dark, cold, wet, winter has roared - but today, the sun and warm weather returned, and the vines are reaching for the sky. Best wishes to you and yours.

"In the spring of 2010, it was opening day in the vineyard when anything could happen. Buds were popping; shoots were shooting. The fragile shoots of spring will become strong in summer as sure as cars will roll off factory assembly lines, concrete foundations laid, wooden frames hammered for new houses, and store shelves stocked with inventory discerned Paul.
The dormant economy woke from its slumber and green shoots reached the first wire and Paul and the winemakers saw it first. Before the vines grow out of control, the Federal Reserve will step in and cut back irrigation to control inflation and the vineyard and economy will grow in balance.
Paul witnessed the first shoots. A new spring. A new vintage. Opening Day. All contained within the tiny bud of a dormant vine. He packaged a bottle of Petit Verdot, women’s favorite, another bottle for the messenger, and a special blend for a special recipient. And with the foolish audacity of a winemaker – isn’t making wine the operational definition of a fool? – he picked up his pen and wrote:

Dear First Lady and Mr. President,

For months, there has been nothing but dreary news in the media about the economy. No city or town has been passed over by the damage and pain. Even in our semi-rural, gentlewomen and gentlemen farmer community, we have seen neighbors’ homes foreclosed, families uprooted, shops on Main Street abandoned. I am reminded of what scripture tells us about the biblical patriarch Joseph and his dreams; he foresaw seven years of famine followed by seven years of abundance. In ancient Egypt, after seven years of drought, the rains returned and so did the crops. And from the depths of the 1932 Depression, the United States emerged to become the world’s greatest economic power. The lessons from the past speak to our time. We will rise again.
We come and go – but the land is always here, always serene. You should visit this area sometime and experience it – to park your burdens at the entrance for a day and reconnect with Nature and the Earth. In the vineyard among the vines, there are answers to all dilemmas. All things have their seasons. After midnight’s darkness, the sun will rise again. After winter’s cold, spring’s thaw will follow. We spent the cold, dark winter pruning vines, cutting back, cutting expenses as well. In winter, the vineyard is barren. Just as the sun must rise and the swallows return to Capistrano – this Recession, it too shall pass.
Yesterday in the vineyard, I came across a shoot – a green shoot – with fragile green leaves – signaling the start of spring. Then I saw another, and another. Green shoots, everywhere. Mr. President, just as there are green shoots in the vineyard, there are green shoots sprouting in the economy. The recession is ending. Growth is on the way. Stay the course and keep the faith. We are keeping hope alive.
            About that wine I gave you …The first bottle is Petit Verdot, the most fragrant wine known to womankind and dogkind – a wine made for fine ladies. It is for Michelle. The second bottle is a blend made from all the different grapes of our vineyard, some Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot and Zinfandel and Tempranillo and Grenache and Aglianico … the recipe is a little bit of this, a little bit of that. This is the Ellis Island of wines, an assembly of our leftovers, our poor, our huddled masses. Grapes yearning to be free. A melting pot. A kitchen soup. And the result? Bluey the Aussie gave it six licks, the most I’ve ever seen, and it is perhaps the best wine we’ve ever made. Just as the good Lord brought people from all over the world to this country to make America the Beautiful – we have taken grapes from each corner of our vineyard – and carboys of wines from all corners of the winery – to create this blend, which we henceforth call President’s Cuvée.
            May God bless your Presidency and the United States.

            Sincerely yours,
            Paul the Winemaker"

- Excerpted with permission from the forthcoming novel About That Wine I Gave You

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