Living in Season
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Update: Mid Autumn Moon
Living in Season: Making Wine at Home
For the past two years, I've been dating a man who's a connoisseur of wine, after a revelatory sip of an old Chateau Haut Brion (I find most wine fanatics have had this initiatory experience). Alas, not me. I've had some amazing wines with Michael but none that really blew me away. Which may be the reason I don't disdain (as he does) the idea of home wine-making. Or maybe it's just that I want to be involved in the magic.
In earlier times, in the right climate, every family grew grapes to make wine for personal use. My parents put in a grape arbor over the patio of the ranch house they bought in the 1950's in Van Nuys, California, but tore it down by the time I was ten (too messy with all those grapes squished on the concrete) and replaced it with corrugated green plastic which cast a sickly glow, compared to the dappled pale green of sun shining through the grape leaves. We never made wine from those grapes but I still remember with fondness sipping my Uncle Bob's blackberry wine at family Thanksgivings.
So I was thrilled this year when I was able to attend a Making Fermented Beverages class taught by my favorite local herbalist, EagleSong as part of her annual Food Camp, in which she shows students how to prepare "live" foods, like cheese, pickles, and wine, foods that are transformed through the actions of the little beasties that live around us and inside us and transform things from one substance to another, like the Catholic mystery of Transubstantiation (when the wine becomes Christ's blood).
EagleSong taught us a simple method for making wine at home, which I've added to the Harvest packet. You can view these PDF pages here.
In the Library: Books on Plants
Buhner is a passionate advocate for a return to a time when people recognized the sacred nature of the plants and trees they used to create fermented beverages that were healthful, nutritious, sacred and intoxicating. He encourages readers to return to the simple methods of the earliest brewers, rather than following the high tech instructions and formulas found in other books and websites on beer-making, which also require investment in sophisticated equipment.
The Lost Language of Plants, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Chelsea Green 2002
Be warned: this book will alter your mind. I haven't read a book that had such a powerful and immediate effect on my world view since The Secret Life of Plants, that 1970's classic which Buhner quotes frequently in this juicy, yeasty compilation of anecdotes, scientific studies, quotes and poems. Buhner has the utmost affection for every living thing. He starts by admiring the amazing abilities of the most primitive plants, the microbes. We wage war on them with antibiotics and other deadly chemicals, a war they're winning since they can adapt faster than we can. In an ideal world we would live in cooperation and harmony for we need them for digestion, protection from disease, enriching the soil, fermenting and so much more. Then Buhner addresses the plants, describing the complex ways they nurture growth and health: their own and others. Here's a quote from the book that seems apt for the theme of this newsletter:
New on my Website: Harvest Links & Sample Pages
I finally decided to add links the way I create packets, one holiday at a time. So I've created a Harvest links section which lists links for more information on wheat weaving, home brewing and home wine making, three of the topics in the Harvest packet. You can view this new section, along with some of my favorite sites, here.
I've also posted sample pages in PDF format of the new material I added on wine making to the Harvest packet so those of you who got last year's packet can add this supplemental material and those who haven't ordered yet can get a taste of what the Harvest packet contains. Click here to download the sample Harvest pages in PDF format.
Current Offerings: Harvest Packet
$9 plus $2 shipping and handling. Please allow ten days for delivery. An email version is also available for $7. It will be sent as an attached Word file within three days of receiving your order. You can order through our store.