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Grand Rapids, MI 49504

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Mixed Blessings

By Steve Siciliano


“Sure is a nice morning,” I commented yesterday to the old fella who had come into the store for some wine making supplies. If I was more observant I would have taken a clue from the worn bib overalls and the frayed cap with the “John Deere” logo. I would have noticed the worn hands when I handed him his change, the weathered face, and the old pickup truck out in the parking lot. “Not if you’re a farmer,” he snapped back. “You aren’t going to be happy if it freezes.”

He didn’t expound on the cryptic comment and he didn’t have to. I knew he was referring to the fact that the string of unseasonably warm, mid-March temperatures was disrupting the natural rhythms. That if the warmth continued the area’s fruit trees would begin budding and that there was way too much time left for a cold snap to destroy the possibility of a bountiful fall harvest.


I also knew that when he said “you” he was referring to all of us who aren’t farmers and who don’t think about the fact that 70-degree temperatures in March are a possible bane rather than a fortuitous boon. Perhaps he was even specifically referring to us winemakers and cider makers who fret about pH and fermentation temperatures but rarely give a second thought to the weather.

That evening I sat on my backyard deck for the first time in months. I heard the distinctive, whistled phrases of a cardinal and looking up spotted a splash of red high in the bare branches of a maple. I smoked a cigar and thought about all the people who were outside enjoying temperatures that were approaching the 80’s. Then I thought about that old fella walking through an orchard of waking trees, and worrying.