Two years ago, we planted a grape vine. The first year, it grew rapidly and we were thrilled with the lush foliage despite the lack of grapes. That winter, the rabbits found it and cut it down almost to the ground despite what I had thought was a good wrapping job to protect it.
The second year, it grew rapidly and we were thrilled that it had survived. The leaves were thick and glossy green, and it quickly reached well over my head. But there were no grapes. That winter, I pruned it back and then wrapped it beyond all good sense, and the rabbits only found the furthest extremities and it survived well.
This year, the Japanese Beetles invaded. Beautiful in their jewel-toned shell, they are voracious and they ate the grape leaves down to just a skeleton. I shook them off into a bucket of soapy water, I crushed them with my pruning shears, I said many bad words every time I caught them copulating on the leaves they had just reduced to lace, and I despaired of ever getting grapes.
Lo and behold, this year, there were grapes.
The day before yesterday, I started thinking that maybe I should start harvesting the grapes. Round and juicy, turning purple, but not quite sweet enough to eat. Not yet. Another day or two, perhaps. I wasn’t sure, since grapes are so new to us. We’ve never had them before, you see.
Apparently, we won’t be having any this year, either.
When I went out to pick green beans for our supper last night, I checked on the grapes. Or rather, I tried to check on the grapes. Unsuccessfully. Someone likes their grapes a little on the tart side, apparently, and they stripped the vine of fruit. Of the ten or so bunches of grapes that were so merrily ripening away, there are precisely 3 grapes left, and they all have bite marks in them.
Next year, I just may have to declare war. The Great Backyard Critter War. Who’s with me?