Grandaddy FriedOkra puttered outdoors professionally and recreationally, and he grew and meticulously tended grapevines in his beautiful sloping backyard. I so clearly remember those gentle early days of Southern autumn, right about now, the week of my birthday, when we'd all be at Grandaddy and Grandmama's house for the weekend, my big sister and me, my parents, my Aunt and Uncle and two cousins. The late afternoons would find us four girls on that slope that led down to the water's edge, under the deep shade of Grandaddy's scuppernong vines, picking the grapes and eating them, or pinch-shooting the fruit out the peels at one another, our squeals and laughter gathered up and lifted away on a gentle, cooling breeze.
A Scuppernong is a soft, golden-ripe grape with a dusky-honey flavor and a sweet floral aroma completely incomparable to any other. We'd stand beneath the cover of those fruit-laden vines, dodging humming yellow-jackets who shared the harvest every year. In the distance we could make out the roar of the crowd at the Clemson game, and the muffled THWOMP! of the cannon each time the Tigers scored.
Recalling the smell and taste of those grapes is almost too sweetly nostalgic for me to bear, yet what a perfect memory for this week. This week I turn forty. FORTY. I am a mother and a wife, a full-fledged adult now, there is simply no denying it, try as I may. But inside, I'm still that innocent, tiny, tow-headed girl under the grapevines with her three best friends and favorite playmates in the whole world.
Inside I'm still just me, barefoot and sticky to my elbows with scuppernong juice, enjoying today and anticipating tomorrow in the burnished light of the late September sun.