I shuffled my feet through the bright green grass along the eastern-dual-string of my vineyard. Everything seemed to be growing well. That was my thought, until I saw a shaggy, grape-vine trunk that stood singularly apart.
I stopped and looked at it, hoping to see some new growth. I saw none. All of the other trunks, on every line, had sprouted new vines. Some were already growing new, tiny clusters of grapes. But not this one. I looked carefully to see what the issue was and concluded that my pruning was the cause.
Last year in the early spring, I took an exploratory walk through the vineyard as well. I remember thinking, “There wasn’t that much growth over the year. I think I don’t need to prune.” I was happy with that decision — until the middle of summer when there were vines and grapes everywhere.
They were beautiful, though! By the end of summer, the growth was out of control. Some vines had even jumped across a space of about 15 feet and into the tops of some good-sized trees. By then, I simply shook my head and didn’t want to go through the pain of battling the unyielding vines. Then winter arrived.
I trudged through the snow up and down the leaf-barren, twisted vines. I knew they had grown exponentially, but didn’t really see the extent until the cold had stopped their growth. I didn’t look forward to the work laid out before me, until the spring brought small buds bursting anew. My window to prune was open and I was determined to show the vines that I was the gardener here.
It took me days to prune all of the vines. I worked carefully as possible, trying to make great decisions as to what to keep and what to cut away. After I had completed my work, I walked the aisles of grape vines and felt satisfied. I was sure I had left new, fresh buds on each guide wire to allow the vines to thrive in a controlled manner. That’s what I thought, until I saw the trunk without buds or growth.
I must have misread it and cut too far back. I worried that all of the years, water and efforts on this vine had been lost by my bad decisions and lack of skill. My hope was the pruning, which was meant to invigorate it, had not killed it. I was distraught, yet my inner voice encouraged me to have faith in my previous work and to give it more time to rejuvenate.
I waited. I walked the line daily for several weeks this spring. I made sure the drip irrigation was giving it water. I trimmed the weeds and grass from its trunk. I waited more, and hoped.
Then, during the last week in May, I stopped at that same barren trunk. I hung my head. I walked up to it until I saw a single fleck of green, hidden on the back of a protruding branch. It was a sprout!
All of the other trunks on every line had sprouted new branches weeks ago. Many were already growing new, tiny clusters of grapes. And now, so was this once seemingly dead trunk. I admired that new growth and sighed a welcome celebration. Even though I tried to make great pruning decisions, it was clear that I was the cause of the trunk’s stress.
I was grateful that its strong roots and good environment had left the door open for it to heal and again thrive.
Thank goodness for our ability to also use the tool of time to aid in life’s healing process. You and I have had times when life has been an uncaring gardener. We’ve all been pruned too carelessly and harshly at times. If this has happened to you, remember to say to yourself, “I’m the gardener here!”
Be grateful for your strong roots. Focus on creating the best personal environment possible and use time to allow yourself to thrive again!
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.