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Spanish Secrets: Decisions, Decisions

The frosts have gone. The Moon is waxing. Time to prune those precious grape vines in Galicia. But Craig Briggs, aware that his labours would determine the quantity and quality of this year's grape harvest, wields the secateurs tentatively. "Every cut leaves an open wound where oozing sap forms in droplets. Like tears, they fall to the floor, as if the vine is crying for its loss...''

The arrival of the new moon brought with it an instant and significant temperature change. The heavy morning frosts and the biting chill after sunset have now gone. Itís almost as if some sort of inter-stellar thermostat has been turned up a notch.

Earlier in the year Iíd pruned both the small sycamore and the pear tree. That had simply been a case of watching for the neighbours pruning theirs, and following suit.

With the likelihood of frost passed, it was now time to prune my precious grape vines. The second most important criteria for vine pruning in these parts, is a Good Moon.

A quick visit to our neighbour proved helpful if somewhat perplexing. After living here for almost three years, we were sure that the best moon was during its wane. How wrong could we be? Tomorrow would see the new moon half way through its waxing; apparently this would be a very good day for pruning.

Iím certainly not one for superstitious hocus-pocus, but having tasted the fruits of last yearís labours, I was taking no chances.

The following day I started in earnest. Secateurs in hand, I stood motionless staring at the first vine. Last year, watching our neighbour Jesus clipping away, it had appeared so simple. One stem left long, and one cut short.

What faced me was a 2 metre (6ft) tall gnarled and withered trunk. At the top was the whole of last yearís growth, which resembled the remnants of a bowl of spaghetti dropped on the kitchen floor.

Decisions, decisions!

My next few hoursí labours would determine the quantity and quality of this year's grape harvest, and our subsequent wine production. From memory I recalled Jesus deciding which stems he wanted to keep, trimming those, and then removing everything else.

Every cut of the secateurs leaves an open wound, where oozing sap forms in droplets. Like tears, they fall to the floor, as if the vine is crying for its loss.

What remains after this surgery, is more like a long and twisted walking stick leant up against a garden fence.

With the dayís work finished, there was time to relax in the late afternoon sunshine. The successful completion of such an important task deserved a well earned reward. We decided to treat ourselves to one of Galiciaís more prestigious wines, Albarino.

This most delicious of white wines has a beautiful translucent lemony colour, which sparkles in the sunlight. Not too dry and not too sweet, hmm delicious!

Overhead flew three storks, giants amongst birds, using the warm thermal currents to glide effortlessly through the clear blue sky. Passing in front of the sun, they cast prehistoric pterodactyl-like shadows across the terrace.

As the wine bottle emptied, the sun, like a glowing golden orb, sank slowly behind the leafless wood perched on the knoll across the lane. Once melted from view, it provided us with a final spectacular light show, as it transformed the low-lying clouds into a kaleidoscope of colours.

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craigandmel@msn.com


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