This evening, on our wedding anniversary, my husband brings home to me a gift: a brown paper bag full of moist, ripe Scuppernongs. The aroma, redolent and wild, takes me back, more than 50 years, to the North Carolina home and gardens of my grandmother. My husband sits with me on the porch at dusk and patiently listens to my memories of a time he never knew, of a place he never visited, and of a woman he never met.
My husband declares that, come spring, he will build a sturdy wooden grape arbor inside our walled garden. It will stand alongside the southern side of our brick house, next to the kitchen. I envision just how it will be:
Our transplanted Scuppernong cutting will remember that it descends from a centuries-old native North Carolina vine. Over the years, our vine will flourish and blossom, proudly and generously, in the soil, sun, and rain of North Florida.
And, finally, early one fine September morning, a few years from today, our wild grapes will display the delicate, translucent hues of amber and bronze. Then, we will gather our grandchildren under the arbor and lift them up, one by one, to pick the ripened globes. Their eyes will register surprise and delight, as they bite into the tough outer skin and taste the juicy sweetness within.
The canopy of the arbor, dense and verdant, will shelter us all and, even 50 years from now, the fragrance of Scuppernongs will linger still.
Margot Blair Payne
September 2, 2010: Our 37th wedding anniversary