My in-laws have a vineyard. Cool, right? It is totally cool. One of my favorite days of the year is Harvest. We get a heads-up about a month ahead of time, with a general idea of the harvest date. And then a firm date about two weeks ahead of time. Word goes out to friends whom have been asking for a month already when harvest is.
Years back, Harvest was moved from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, just to accommodate our sports/dance schedule. And trust me when I say it’s not easy to get up at 5am on a Sunday morning, even when you know the day is going to be amazing. But it is awesome…..picking grapes, tasting wines from years previous, the fog laying over the valley, the camaraderie of those who have braved the early morning for the experience, the smell of the coffee in your mug while walking through the vineyard, the sound of the camera clicking to capture the grapes, the vines, the people, the frantic activity in the kitchen as brunch is prepared and laid out…..
I don’t remember how many harvests had already happened in 2006. My babies were babies yet, with Little Man just 2 1/2 years old. The grapes had been picked and hauled off by the wine-makers. The brunch had been eaten. People were saying goodbye. At some point, I was with my precious herd in the courtyard, and the three of them stood at the gate, their backs to me, as they said goodbye to someone. I snapped a photo, loving the colors, the comparison of their sizes to each other, the gate in front of them with its fall decorations. It remains one of my favorite photos of them, even though you can’t see their faces.
The Princess had just started her second year of Saturday-morning dance. Big Man was just in Kindergarten. Little Man was still wearing diapers. A moment captured in time.
I didn’t think about that photo at Harvest the following year, but the year after that, we ended up taking another photo of the three of them at the gate.
And then it became a thing. Distant friends and family would ask when harvest was – not to come, but to know when to watch for the newest gate photo.
Now, we take a picture of my three at the gate every single Harvest. I anticipate it every single year. As they’ve grown, I’ve grown more and more sentimental about this accidental tradition. Yesterday, my father-in-law gave an edict: The gate will be at all of their weddings, and a photo will be taken, and all the previous gate photos will be on display. Now, I know you all know I’m an emotional sap. I’ve become verklempt every time I think about it. My babies are growing up so very quickly. These photos every Harvest are so evident of that. The first, Big Man’s head was barely halfway up the gate. Now, two of them are taller than the gate, and Little Man is above the edge at the bottom corner. Soon, Big Man will head off to college, and then there will be two. The year after that, the Princess will head off to college, and my gate picture will be of one.
This is what we’re meant to do right? Raise them, and then watch them fly away. These photos, this accidental tradition, will show me not only how they’ve grown over the years, but will be a visual reminder of family, tradition, heritage, love.