Something special came with our house, at no extra charge. The first time I saw them, I wasn’t sure if they were what I thought, but I sure did hope so. Jean and I moved into our current house a little over ten years ago. Our grand-buddy Drew was born the same weekend we moved. What a weekend! Shortly after we moved in, I noticed a tree on the other side of the stream in our back yard with some berries hanging from it. Upon closer examination, I discovered they weren’t growing directly on the tree, but on a vine that had woven itself up the tree. It was already fall, so they were a deep shade of purple, almost black. I thought I knew what they were, so I picked one, pricked a small hole with my teeth in its skin, and then squeezed the sweet pulp inside my mouth. I smiled when my taste buds confirmed that I had a muscadine vine in my backyard. In case you don’t know what muscadines are, they are a type of grape that grows in the south. In case you’ve never tasted one, bless your heart! Homemade muscadine jelly, on a hot buttered biscuit, is good enough to cause you to be late for work...not that I’ve ever done that.
Muscadines often grow wild in the woods. As a boy, I used to find them in the woods behind our house. I’ve also spotted them in the woods alongside golf courses. I wasn’t searching for muscadines when I found them there; I was searching for golf balls. I enjoy spending time in the woods. That’s why I used to play golf. On good days, I found more golf balls than I lost! On great days, I also found a wild muscadine vine, with ripe muscadines. The fact that I spent so much time in the woods may be why I don’t play golf any longer! I’m sorry, I think I chased a rabbit there...no, not in the woods, but in my story.
Anyway, my newly found vine sprouted from the ground at the base the tree. Its vines ran up almost to the treetop. Once Drew was old enough, I introduced him to my treasure. He and I loved to pick the low hanging fruit and eat our fill, but we couldn’t reach high for most of the grapes. I told Drew those out of reach grapes were probably sour anyway. He didn’t know the old “Fox and Grapes” children’s story, so I told it to him. Eventually, he and I decided to build a footbridge across the stream. We built it wide enough to hold a step ladder and directly under the muscadines. Low and behold, those higher muscadines were not sour after all! I knew unless we rented a bucket truck, we would never be able to reach all the fruit, so we decided to pull the vine down out of the tree. Part of it broke off and eventually died but another section still lives in the tree. We built a wooden trellis across the stream and ran the vine on it. The vine didn’t stretch all the way across, but I knew it would grow and boy has it ever. Now it runs on our backyard fence for probably twenty feet or more. It is low enough that we can stand right there on the ground and fill our bucket. The deer can also help themselves but there’s enough to make us all happy.
Jesus once said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” I love a good crop of muscadines. God loves a crop of good in us.
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.