There are things in this world that never change. Things my grandmother did, and her mother before her, things that are the same from generation to generation. I call them my “connection points.” When I do these things, I feel a sense of belonging, a sense of connection to all the generations that came before me. These are a few of the things that help me feel connected: kneading bread by hand, pulling a carrot from the garden or a tomato from the vine, stitching a pattern into a quilt or sewing on a button, smelling a baby, watching clouds in a beautiful sunset or walking in rain, singing the hymns or reading from the Scriptures, making something from an old family recipe like Neu Jahr Kuchen (New Year’s Doughnuts), walking down a country road, or turning soil and smelling its richness.
Today I picked the concord grapes hiding behind the bright yellow leaves and the vines that have covered the back fence by the garden all summer. It always surprises me each October to lift the leaves and find dark bluish-purple grapes hanging there, here in Orem, Utah. I grew up on a farm in California surrounded by vineyards and the smell of grapes and raisins drying in the sun this time of year. I get homesick for those smells. They don’t happen here in Orem.
I ate plenty of delicious grapes as I picked today, thinking of my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, and every generation before that–all grape growers and wine makers. I have only one vine. They each had hundreds. From my vine, I filled two large bowls with the fragrant grapes and as I did I thought about my ancestral fathers and mothers, harvesting. “Weingärtner” they were called in Germany. Wine gardeners. Those vineyards are still in our family, narrow rows of vines climbing the hill to the Turm or lookout tower above Grossgartach. I climb that tower every time I visit family there, just because for more than 500 years, my people climbed those rows to that Turm. I have their records, I’ve found their names. I know who they are. They are my people, they are Weingärtners. And I love them.
Today as I picked my grapes, I connected, in heart and soul to my ancestral fathers and
mothers, to family I love. Two colanders of grapes may seem like a small thing, but to me, it represents everything I am and everyone I love.