Where I am in the vineyard is invisible from the house, patio, balcony, driveway and pretty much anywhere else, tucked down between the thick, overgrown vines with my tiny jackknife blade open, culling them back so that they expend all of their energy into the grapes and little more into lengthening, choking vines. We don't even know what we're doing but it's fun growing fruit in the backyard. If the local wildlife don't make off with the bunches like they did last year, I plan to make wine. Wine or something resembling wine, anyway.
Having offered to help, Ben works in the row next to mine. We trade hushed words in sporadic bursts but mostly remain quiet, content to feel the beads of sweat rolling down our temples and down our backs under our clothes in the hot sun, I in my sky blue strappy sundress with his black cowboy perched on the back of my head, he in that amazing kilt and a thin white tshirt.
For the better part of fifteen minutes now he has been teasing me about christening the vineyard.
I tell him he is crazy and awful and the grapes will die and the vines will shrivel up and suck back into the ground in a whoosh, leaving us exposed and naked for the world to see.
He laughs, the sound traveling out over the water and then he asks exactly how much I will wager on my scenario.
I pick a number out of his cowboy hat, which he plunked onto my head as we were walking out the door. It's been hanging on a hook since the move. It might help slow the proliferation of freckles across my nose and prevent the ridiculous pink sunburnt cheeks I get.
So you're going to give me fifty dollars if I can get away with this without anyone knowing.
Yes. The money's in my bag. Good luck to you.
He abruptly stops cutting and puts his knife down. The smile on his face could melt granite. He stands up and walks down to the end of his row, turns and comes up the row where I sit in the dust. He reaches down and takes my knife from me gently and then tosses it on the ground halfway back down the row. He reaches down again and takes my wrists, pushing me to the ground, blocking out the sun.
An hour later we trudge back up to the house, hand in hand, Ben picking leaves and dirt out of my hair as we go. He is wearing the cowboy hat, I am holding up one strap on my dress, and we're both beyond filthy. PJ looks up as we walk in through the back door, off the kitchen. Andrew is busy typing on his phone. Gage smiles broadly.
All finished? (They start laughing.)
Fuckers. Ben is laughing. I'm flushing from embarrassment while I try to pin the strap together on my dress temporarily.
Andrew puts down his phone. He is so dry. At least now we have a name for the wine.
Dudes Saw Everything Cabernet.
Ben makes a suggestion. Look Away Next Time Zinfandel?
PJ throws in his offering. Don't forget She Blushes Blush.
I find some sort of control and speak up at last. I don't really know whether to laugh or cry. That's a Rosé, PJ. You need red grapes for that.
Oh, they're red now, princess. Trust me on that. Just like you.