The first grapeleaves are the sweetest, unfurling delicately all along the thick, knarled vine in my garden. I love this time of year. I love watching nature explode into color and texture after so much grey.
Every day something new breaks the surface of the earth, send shoots and tendrils, opening like a smile spreading across a face.
This vine is so special to my heart. The original vine was my grandmothers and grew lush and vast across her back yard. I took clippings from it each time I went to take care of her that last year, hoping to be able to keep some piece of her and of our family’s traditions.
I loved the smells of her kitchen. Always something cooking just like my mom’s kitchen. My mom is a warm, vibrant and passionate woman, forever rushing to welcome and feed people.
I remember feeling increasingly anxious with each failed attempt at transplanting as if I might run out of time before she left us. Her hospital stays increased even as her time home between them decreased.
I stuck bits of vine in water, in soil, in every conceivable combination of location and light and season. Eventually some took root and I carefully planted them and nurtured them like a new mother hovering too much, filled with joy and pride and relief as my baby vines thrived.
I learned to cook at her side and my mothers. I learned to prepare the stuffed grapeleaves as a child, first running to her backyard to pick the number of leaves needed for dinner, carefully selecting the ones large enough to hold the stuffing, and still small enough to be tender and sweet.
Hospitality is sacred in our culture. You can’t refuse food that is offered to you anymore than you can forget to feed any guest who appears at your door. I see the faces of everyone I love in those vines, and the ones I have yet to meet. Those unexpected guests. The ones that send you racing to the garden to pick as many leaves as you’ll need for the feast. Suh’tein❤