This is an Angel from the Vineyards…isn’t she beautiful?
Today we have a 95 mile ride leaving New York, passing through the Northwestern tip of Pennsylvania and then ending up in Ohio.
We leave early and pace ourselves over this ride. Food maintenance is essential with a 5500-6000 calorie burn. We also will end up climbing 2500 feet up and down the hills next to the water.
Nearly all of the nearly 100 miles are through wine country along the shores of Lake Erie. I have never understood how the vines live through the brutal winters here but live they do by the hundreds of thousands of acres.
At 10 miles into the ride I stop at a small convenient store for a breakfast sandwich and meet three locals who jokingly refuse to give me a ride when I beg a lift to Cleveland in one of their 50 year old pickup trucks.
Our conversation turns to the local vineyards and they ask where I am from, more exactly what type of crops are where I come from.
After I expound all of my in depth knowledge of tobacco, soybeans, corn, sweet potatoes, and cotton they look at me and say “ No weed?”
“No, weed. You know marijuana.”
“ Well, no…it is not legal at home”.
“ Well, your loosing millions of dollars there… we are just waiting for the green light to go”. They chuckle and one winks.
I smile and say my goodbyes but have to wonder at these three farmers just waiting for the green light to plant marijuana crops.
As I ride off I am again surrounded by cherry orchards
and vineyards and think of my family in Italy, they too surrounded by similar fruits.
My grandparents were first cousins from the Nicolinti, and Vigna families northwest of Torino.
The Nicolinti’s lived in the foothills of the Alps, the Vigna’s 2km lower in the valley. Both grew their own grapes for 2000-3000 liters of wine a year. The name Vigna itself is derived from the Italian word for vineyard.
Now when I visit I stay with my cousin and her daughter in one of the old farm homesteads where my grandfather was born. From the courtyard I can see where my grandmother and uncle were born.
Inside, the 200 year old house
is still heated with wood from the forests, minestrone simmers on the stove, bread is fresh every day, cheese is from local goats, and wonderful red wine is part of the evening meal. I think of the value of family, something I am thankful for every day of my life.
On the ride we quickly develop another temporary family, each of us relying on one another so many times a day. None of us really rides alone. We don’t know it yet but tonight we will be part of a tent city to try to ward off the rain.
I ride on south and think of all these lush grapes which will come to fruition in the next few months. I wish I could be here then to filch a few from the side of the road.
I think back to the three farmers some miles behind. Somehow the idea of turning this land into fields of marijuana to supply the needs of city folk seems a travesty and a turning from a romantic past.
Perhaps next time I come through I will note the green crops of “weed” surrounded by lush vineyards of grapes.
How will all the “tea totalers of the world” deal with these fields of Vice?
I assure you the politicians of New York won’t care.
Their coffers will be full…and they will toast each other with fine sparkling wines…from Italy.
In close I offer a toast myself to my Italian family and my second home, my cousin and her daughter, now a bit more grown…