Wrapping in the vineyard in the rain. Or am I in the Maypole? I can never remember

by Kit Munro

You know the almost snug feeling you get when the weather is cold, miserable and wet and you are really well rugged up?

It was a terrible day to be in the vineyard. The weather was awful; rain, southerly, the whole works. I was indeed rugged up; moleskins, leggings, five layers including a woolly singlet, swandri, beanie and a great big jacket that only has a few holes, at the elbows. Only my face and one hand were exposed to the elements. It is curious, when you are really rugged up, especially with a lot of mismatched layers and you are in awful, awful weather it can almost feel like you are in a cozy little hut, exposed to the elements but isolated from them.

You see the deadline for bud-burst is coming up…

Naturally as bud burst looms the bad weather that has to be tolerated increases. Not because the weather necessarily gets worse towards the end of pruning and wrapping (although ironically August and September often do seem to be wetter than June or July) but because the pressure to get the job done increases. So, in early June a light drizzle for ten minutes is enough to drive us inside. By late August or September there can be howling southerly, pouring rain and still we will be out in the vineyard.

Why must the wrapping of the vines be done before bud-burst you ask? You see here are two examples of a cane (the canes are the long twig like things) on a vine.

One with the buds bursting the other without. These buds are very delicate; Push them gently with your thumb and the bloody things pop off…Each of these buds represent a bunch and a half of grapes and so cannot be knocked off.

In light of that, wrapping these vines involves twining the canes along the fruiting wires. Like so…

So naturally after bud burst wrapping the 60 km of canes is like wrapping porcelain and is very slow. Before bud burst you can be rough with the canes and go quite quickly. Hence the deadline…

I had begun reading Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. I could not have chosen a better book to warm me up. In the second chapter ––which described; a night, an Inn, and two strangers meeting on a road–– while the rain poured and the Southerly roared, as I wrapped I read this:

Two miles to the Maypole! I told Martha I wouldn’t; I said I wouldn’t, and I didn’t––there’s resolution!”Repeating these two last words very often, as if to compensate for the little resolution he was going to show by piquing himself on the great resolution he had shown, Gabriel Varden quietly turned back

.…

When he got to the Maypole, however, and Joe, responding to his well-known hail, came running out to the horse’s head, leaving the door open behind him, and disclosing a delicious perspective of warmth and brightness––when the ruddy gleam of the fire, streaming through the old red curtains of the common room, seemed to bring with it, as part of itself, a pleasant hum of voices, and a fragrant odour of steaming grog and rare tobacco, all steeped as it were in the cheerful glow––when the shadows, flitting across the curtain, showed that those inside had risen from their snug seats, and were making room in the snuggest corner (how well he knew that corner!) for the honest locksmith, and a broad glare, suddenly streaming up, bespoke the goodness of the crackling log from which a brilliant train of sparks was doubtless at that moment whirling up the chimney in honour of his coming––when, superadded to these enticements, there stole upon him from the distant kitchen a gentle sound of frying, with a musical clatter of plates and dishes, and a savoury smell that made even the boisterous wind a perfume––Gabriel felt his firmness oozing rapidly away.He tried to look stoically at the tavern, but his features would relax into a look of fondness. He turned his head the other way, and the cold black country seemed to frown him off, and drive him for a refuge into its hospitable arms.

In my wet weather gear I could almost feel the warmth of the Maypole’s fire…

The Maypole Inn by Mark Thomson

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