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Kentucky Color - Wild Grapes
'Grapevine swingers were mostly in the closet until my and your boyhood hero, Tarzan made it fashionable and acceptable to openly declare one's love affair with the sport and with grapevines themselves.' - BILLY JOE FUDGE
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By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired District Forester
Kentucky Division of Forestry
I often open myself up to criticisms when I stray too far off the farm, as they say. The farm for me is the forest and trees. It and they are very good friends of mine and we have a fairly good relationship. Occasionally however, I must pontificate about things which I am not the most qualified and this may be one of those times.
All folks my age and older who grew up in rural America and were deprived of the finer recreational luxuries enjoyed by our urban cousins have had a definite love affair with grapevines. That love affair was born in the heart of every boy and sometimes girl who defied the finger-wagging warnings of mothers about the inherent dangers of swinging on grapevines. Those warnings were quite unwarranted since nary a single report of an injury was ever reported as grapevine induced. This record stands till today in spite of the grapevine bark found beneath fingernails and between the teeth of injured lads and lasses who have passed through emergency rooms all over the Eastern Hardwood Forest.
Grapevine swingers were mostly in the closet until my and your boyhood hero, Tarzan made it fashionable and acceptable to openly declare one's love affair with the sport and with grapevines themselves. It is rumored that the Tarzan yell originated in the Great Wooded South when a movie producer heard the yell of a grapevine swinger whose grapevine had lost its toe hold on the limbs above. At any rate, thanks Tarzan.
Well on from art to science. The wild grape in our area is Summer Grape more accurately defined by the "Old Folks" of the Great Wooded South as the Possum Grape. Summer Grapevines attach themselves to trees of all heights and species in an effort to climb high enough to keep its leaves bathed in sunlight in order to manufacture food to sustain itself.
Upwards toward a hundred species of birds including Turkey, Quail, Cardinals and songbirds of all types feed upon the grapes in various stages of development but particularly after they ripen in October and early November. In addition to birds, several animals such as raccoons, black bear, skunks and, indeed, Possums feed on grapes. Yes, the human animal also feeds upon Summer Grapes in the form of jelly and of course wine.
I might add just a note for your consideration and that is, you can get a mighty good drink of earthy, sweet water even in the driest of conditions by slicing both ends of a three foot section of vine and holding it upright above your open mouth. Gravity will in a short time have its way with the pure, cool sap stored in the vine. - Billy Joe Fudge
This story was posted on 2012-11-04 04:53:07
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