Fear in Writing: Grapes

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


My week didn't start out so well.  Sunday, my child hit me in the head with an electric keyboard--right at that sweet spot between the ear and the temple.  Sunday night, my other child hit me in the face while I was leaning over to explain something to her fuss-face.  Monday afternoon I found out I didn't get a job for which I'd been asked to apply and had really been hoping to get.

Then came the grapes.

Tuesday morning I sat on my couch typing away with a steaming mug of coffee and a bowl of grapes.  On the weekly T-days, both of my children go to preschool.  So this Tuesday, my husband offered to take them so I could get some time to myself without having to put on makeup, do my hair, put on clothes, and drive 25 minutes each way.  So I sat on my previously pristine, postmodern couch in my minimally decorated, child-adjusted living room and breathed.

In.        Out.  In.          Out.

Each grape in my mouth was a burst of spirit.  The juices flowed over my tongue and left behind that sticky feeling, that reminder of how the good things and life leave a trail of reminders that we can choose to pay attention to, or ignore.

What is it about grapes?  Grapes appear as early as 5000 BC in Asia, and in hieroglyphics on Egyptian tombs (whfoods).  They appear in art.  We all know the pervasive subject of The Still Life.  This one is Still Life of Grapes, Plums and Apples, 17c., Jacob van Es.

Then there is the religious painting.  Here we see Traubenmadonna, 1525, by Lucas Cranach the Elder.  He was known for his realism and worked as a court painter in the Netherlands while also being a friendly with both Protestant Reformers and the Catholic Church (wikipedia).

And, grapes appear in architecture going back centuries.  This is a building in Prague's historic Malá Strana district, in the market place at the center of the town (wikipedia).

So grapes have been around a while.  They are the sustenance of the wealthy in many media portrayals.  I think of Charles Laughton in Sign of the Cross, seen here not actually eating grapes, but giving that too-exhausted-from-being-in-power-to-do-anything-but-be-self-indulgent vibe. 

Do they still hold that flavor?  Do they make you feel self-indulgent?  Or has self-indulgence taken on a whole new meaning with all the chocolates and Internet searches and movies on demand we have at our fingertips?

I felt self-indulgent with my coffee and grapes in a silent living room, sunlight barely breaking through the backyard foliage.  But was it the grapes?  I think it was everything.  It was the peace after the storm.  It was the calm in my heart that replaced any bitterness.  It was the relief that comes from knowing what is (or what is not) next.

How do you indulge yourself?


  1. Michele - Oh, I've had days like your Sunday, myself. I'm glad that you found a way to soothe yourself and give yourself some pampering. And thanks for that really interesting information about grapes. Lots there I didn't really think about before. I think it's so important to find ways to be kind to yourself when things are going wrong...

  2. Yikes! I just got a great idea for a Blogfest!Random-things-that-occur-to-you-after-a-blow-to-the-head Blogfest! Is that a stampede of particxipants I hear?

  3. Aww, what a sweet husband. I love grapes and I have a bowl just for them. It's always replenished. They're easy to eat because you can plop them in your mouth. There's no sticky fingers afterward. And they are delicious. Sometimes we just need to be alone to recharge. I hope things are going a lot better for you. :D

  4. Margot- But very hard to find time and will to do those things. I was reading just a few moments ago how women feel so much GUILT at taking time for themselves. It's not just mothers (though this is a big factor), but wome in general as we are the caregivers of society.

    Will- Awesome idea! I'll write a whole book for it!

    Brenda- A bowl just for grapes--what a fantastic idea! Thanks for the well-wishes.

  5. Oh my goodness, Michele. This is a MARVELOUS post! I am so glad I didn't miss it! (Some days life intrudes on my reading/writing blogs!)

    Thanks for the reminder of grapes! I must admit, I had moved into the idea of chocolates--but now, thanks to you, I will think decadent with every grape I put in my mouth! Recently I bought a package of organic dates. They were so delicious I wondered why I'd ever thought I had to put them in a candy or cake base.

    I indulge with my daily glass of wine. My favorite is a Voignier, made by a Becker, a nearby Texas winery, Becker. Leaves a hint of peaches on my tongue.

    Sorry about the job. That's a bummer when that happens. You end feeling set up.

    But your story with your children was hilarious. And what a neat act by your husband.

    Go enjoy a grape for me.

    Sylvia Dickey Smith

  6. To me, raisins are a way to ruin a perfectly good grape!

    And how did your kid hit you with a keyboard?

  7. Sylvia- Ah, wine. See--you indulge with grapes, too! How wonderful that you found a local vintner.

    Alex- We were picking up the bonus room after having a group over. He's GREAT at picking up. NOT so great at looking where he's going.