Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Adventures of Molly the Wine Dog - slice #1

Snnniifffff. Ahhh.... yeah.... That's the stuff.

This time of year is so full of excellent rotteny smells. Kinda takes some of the challenge out of being a dog with superior smelling ability. It's just too easy. You see, I live in Oregon with a human pack: a wine man, his wine wife, and two kids I call tall boy and busy girl. It's fall, nearly harvest time, and the grapes they grow are ready to rot into a snoggy pile of gelatinous goo -so perfect for eating or rolling in or both, depending on my mood, but they never seem to let that happen. Damn it.

My pack calls me Molly, but that's a joke. We dogs use smells to distinguish each other, but if I had a canine name, it would be - hmmm... how to put it in terms your average human can comprehend.... My name would be something like Joy of the Agile Mind, which is pretty sad because my full given human name is Molly Van Halen. Go figure.

For all the lack of dog conscious naming ability, these particular humans are a pretty okay bunch to hang around with on any given day. They're busy, seem to love me and have plenty of visitors at the winery for me to smell and get to know. These are all good things.

Sniff. Yep. Almost time to pick those grapes. I never get my true wish for the totally rotteny grape mush, because instead of letting them rot and rain down to the ground, they pick them when they're perfect and make wine for other humans to enjoy. But hey, during this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities for me to enjoy myself, so I'm not complaining.

It's twilight and the wine man is walking the vines, muttering. If I wasn't here you'd think he was talking to himself. I fill this role from time to time, like when someone passes gas, it's easy enough to blame it on the dog. Hey, as long as I get fed, clean water, and a warm place to sleep, blaming me for gas is asking very little.

"pH is right..." he mutters softly.

His feet crunch on the thin layer of jacks - the dried stems from grape clusters removed months ago when they were small and green. He takes these clusters off so the vines have less to do and can focus on making very good grapes of what's left behind. Hmm...check that smell! Full skank of gopher hole...sniff left...right...ahh...there it is. I stuff my nose down hard in the hole and take a deep, hearty drag of musty gopher funk, piss and whatever that elixir is they put out that makes me want to clench them in my teeth and shake hard. Snnniifffff. Ahhh.... yeah....that's the stuff. Oh, wait a minute..where's the wine man?

"Sugars are in."

He's a few yards ahead and over in the next row. He pops a juicy grape in his mouth, chews and spits the seeds onto his palm. Even in the dim light, the seeds are chestnut brown. I duck under the nearest trellis wire and lope up next to him.

"Seeds are brown."

Duh, I'm thinking. They are brown. Okay, I'll see for myself. I chomp down on the nearest cluster, juice sluicing down my chin and onto my right paw. Hmmm....delicious. Pft, pft - I spit out the seeds. Yep, brown.

"Flavors are in..."

He stops walking. I push my head under his hand hanging by his side. He pats me absent mindedly, but hey, I'll take it.

"Come on, Molly. Let's tell Mom." That's what he calls the wine wife. I don't know what it means.

And just like that, months after bud break, weeks after cluster cutting, days after verasion, and moments after that final tasting in the gathering moonlight, the harvest is on. We head home for a meal and to rest up for the big day tomorrow, the wine man restless with anticipation and me curled up at the foot of the bed, head resting on my paws, ready for the harvest.

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