When grapevines were dormant, with the posts glistening brightly on a sunny day, the scene reminded Nick of a cemetery, not because vines elicit the thought of death, but because the neatness of the vineyard was like pictures that he had seen of Arlington National Cemetery. At other times, the neatness conjured soldiers standing in perfect formation awaiting their orders.
In spring, especially after a round of suckering that left a long space of naked vine trunks with a puff of new shoots with leaves on them that starts at the low trellis wire the soldiers became the vision of a formation of women in tutus, or a formation of ostriches.
Whether winter or spring and whether the vines were dormant or bursting with life, the natural quiet of the perfect formation gave rise to Nick’s dreams. At six in the evening, after a long, lonely, hard day and then a bite to eat, and into his second glass of wine, he was allowed to dream. He could see every one of the grapes on those vines before they’d grow and he could smell them as a vinous brew that his hands had put together in his two-car garage that he converted into a winery.
While he dreamed on the back deck one evening, the phone rang.
“Hello, Nick. It’s Dieter.”
Dieter and Nick had never met. They were introduced by telephone by a mutual friend of theirs. At the very time that Nick was gearing up to leave New York City for the Finger Lakes, Dieter was leaving Berlin for Tuscany to take charge of his newly purchased winery in Siena.
“Hey, Dieter. How are things going in Italy?”
“Ah, Nick, I have troubles.”
“Dieter, what’s the matter?”
“As soon as I took over this place the American importer dropped the winery from its book. I have no idea how to get an importer in the U.S. Can you help me?”
Nick didn’t know how to get a company to distribute his own wine, let alone one for a Chianti producer.
“Dieter, you may have misunderstood. I am starting a winery, not a…”
Dieter cut him off.
“I know. I know that. But how do you sell your wine? Don’t you know anyone in the wine business?”
“Well, I don’t have wine to sell yet, and the people I know in the wine business are few and none are importers or distributors.”
“Oh, I see. I guess I got all excited. I should not have bothered you.”
“No, Dieter, it’s all right. I know how complicated the wine business can be.”
“Nick, if you think the wine business is complicated you haven’t spent time in Italy. Complicated doesn’t begin to describe what’s it’s like to do business here, or to get anything done at all. It took me six months before I was given a permit to establish my own drinking water in my new home. Here, you must pay someone for the right to have your own drinking water—water does not come with your property. I’ve spent more money on bribes just to have some water than on wine equipment to produce more wine!”
“That’s funny, Dieter—and sad. Isn’t it such a surprise how the romance of wine is no match for reality?”
While Nick spoke to Dieter, a brief thunderstorm passed through the area, one of those five-minute awe-inspiring downpours as the thunder shakes the earth, the lightening threatens un-harnessed power, and the raindrops are as big and as firm as lemons.
The brief storm ended just as Nick said goodbye to Dieter. He went back to gazing from the back deck.
Soon, before him was a rainbow that began at the base of the promontory—Bluff Point—that forms the v portion of the lake’s y shape. The bow arced over the lake and then took a dive right to the water. The multi-colored vision lasted for a good few minutes. In that time, corny as it was, Nick heard Judy Garland singing the Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg score.
He believed that the rainbow was a sign.
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May 2010. All rights reserved.