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the fruit of the vine

It's probably too late for you to act on this, but two or three weeks ago the woods around here were positively filled with grapes. Well, maybe not filled, but there were plenty there for the sampling. It's funny, because the vines must be there all year round, but they totally blend into all the leaves unless you're looking for them. And why would you, until it's late September and you're walking along a trail and you come to kind of a sunny spot, and all of a sudden you're overcome with the aroma of grape popsicle. Just look around for a while, and you'll find them!

wild grapes growing

wild bounty

It's very convenient that the grapes smell so strongly when they're getting ripe. And they really do smell like popsicles: until I tried wild grapes I didn't understand what "grape flavor" was meant to be, but it's actually pretty close to what they taste like. At first, that is; then after that first burst of flavor you start to taste the bitterness of the skins and, unless they're really ripe, the underlying sourness of the slimy middle. Also there are lots of big seeds. I'm not really selling the experience, and the boys certainly had their doubts. But it didn't stop me picking a few every time we noticed them somewhere. Because foraging is the best—who can pass up free wild food?!—and because, even without as much sugar as a popsicle, grapes are the flavor of the last of the summer.

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