The Nerve-Racking Deed

It may seem trivial but to me it wasn’t.  It hung over my head for months.  I walked under it every day knowing that I had to be the one to do it come late fall.

I’ve written about other aspects of it before.  It’s the grapevine – believed to be a plant of Peleg Mitchell Jr’s – Maria Mitchell’s uncle who lived in the Mitchell House at 1 Vestal Street after the William and Lydia Mitchell family moved to the Pacific Bank.  For all the years we had our landscaper, he would cut it back for us late each fall.  We have a new landscaper who works alone so in a bid to help out his workload, I said I would cut it back.  GULP!

I’m an okay gardener – I like messy gardens though.  I don’t like everything to be all rowed up and lots of soil in between each plant.  I tend to let plants grow where they spread and give a plant that isn’t doing very well way too much patience.  Grapevines on an arbor?  Not my thing.

So, I did some research.  I found a good article in Fine Gardening – actually online.  I like Fine Gardening, my Mom sends a subscription to me as a gift every year.  (This is not an advertisement!).  It took some careful reading and re-reading as the lovely images were sort of hard to follow but I think I got what they meant.  I HOPE I got what they meant!  ARGH!

So, I took out my trusty snips – that were too dull because I naughtily used them for oh, you know, cutting wire for tin lanterns we make in Mitchell House children’s programs – and took the first snip.  I didn’t breathe.  Actually, I pretty much clenched my jaw and didn’t breathe much except to talk to the grapevine – and Peleg – while trying to avoid the power line that is nearby.  EEK!

It went by quickly.  I piled up the vine pieces and cut them short to make it neater and easier to dispose of.  I walked back.  Sighed.  Hoped I cut it correctly so that next year we have more grapes – or frankly still have the grapevine.  I don’t want to be the curator who murdered it.  I’d never forgive myself.  NEVER!

(I did take cuttings earlier to try and root them as I have the last few years.  Hope they work again!)

JNLF

“Hope Springs Eternal”

This is dramatic for what I relate this quote from Alexander Pope to, but I had really almost given up.

A few years ago, late spring came and Peleg’s grape arbor – which I have written about before – began to bud up.  There are two trunks – two different grape plants.  One – the larger of the two by a great deal – started to sprout its leaf buds.  The other, I          hoped was just a bit behind after a rough winter.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  It never budded – it was killed by the winter of bitter cold and warmth and then bitter cold again.  I started to worry I could lose – the MMA could lose – the entire arbor.  So, desperate to try to ensure its survival, I went to many lengths to try and root the grape which is no easy task based on what I have read.  I finally – after multiple  attempts – resorted to taking long cuttings and placing them in some soil and then putting them in the window of the Observatory’s Seminar Room where I spend the winter – my “winter office.”

I have been watering them since October and frankly, they continued to look like dead sticks.  At the beginning of February, I almost threw them out but then decided that I would wait just in case.  Well, on February 7, 2018, I glanced over and – overnight it seems – leaf buds had appeared!  I was elated! And now they continue to grow and one has begun to unfurl itself.  I hope I can keep them going and can then plant them in place of the old one that died a few winters ago.  Let’s hope.  This is just another tie to the Mitchell past.

JNLF