A tiny seed leaf sprouted at the base of a tree. It stretched into a slender vine and clawed up the tree and divided and wrapped around every branch to the top and reached across to the next tree until a stand of oaks strained to lift a forest of wild grapes.
Old trees that defied drought and storm and flood buckled beneath the grapes. At night a tremendous branch would snap under pressure of vines and echo on the lake like a pistol-shot. Sitting up in bed you would know these grapes are wild.
An animal planted the seed. A bird or coon or other friend of the farm brought grapes from elsewhere to enjoy here, in the shade. It sat in the tree above that spot and dropped a single seed and the sowing was wild.
These grapes always had music. The herons choked a rusty-throated song all day over the grapes. Cardinals and cooing doves slipped among the branches beneath screeching steel-jawed hawks, and each their layered song into the vines.
At night a symphony pulsed from the shadows: frogs and coyotes and crickets and owls and every bug-eyed insect in the forest lifted their song up to the grapes and the bright stars beyond. In all the long hot nights, the music was wild.
I delayed the harvest many times. I knew I must cut down the vines to save the trees. However, as the canopy of green clusters turned purple, thousands of grape skins and seeds littered the ground. So, I first let every musician of the forest take their pay in grapes. This food is for the wild at heart.
Finally, I could wait no longer. A storm rose in the gulf and I had to take the grapes or lose them. Your gentle and wild at heart farmer climbed the trees in the rising wind and let down the vines. I brought them home to render jelly while lightning flashed on the windows.
Be conservative with this stuff. It is purple and tart and sweet and bold. It is very rich; a spoonful goes far. It came from the earth wild; was cultivated wild; the harvesters are wild. The music in the jar is wild.
All good souls are welcome but this is food for the wild at heart.
Go to fourstringfarm.com under “Recipes” to find out how to make jelly from wild mustang grapes.