Today I spied on my landlord...
We called our landlord to ask if we could bring over the rent money for this month; they said they were “busy with the grapes” and would call us when it was a better time.
Today they arrived in the morning when the air is still cool and the scant dew is still on the vine leaves. I awoke to the sound of snips and clips accompanied by the soft padding of footsteps through the red clay-like soil. A quick peak outside my window revealed a small group of workers – the landlord and his extended family – harvesting the grapes that had ripened in the Mediterranean sun.
With the quietest of footsteps, I crept through the house peering through slanted windows and peeking off of balcony edges to watch their movements and their progress as they were “busy with the grapes.” Casually tilting the camera to get a better view, I dodged their glances in my direction and then proceeded with my spying out of sheer curiosity and interest. Much to my glee, I was largely unnoticed.
As the yellow-orange sun rose higher in the sky, they made their way quickly and efficiently through the vineyards around our brief quad of houses while chatting to pass the time. Occasionally one of them would go to the rusty water spigot near the whitewashed tool shed to wash off tools and then return to the vineyard, argue about whether a bunch of grapes was ready to be pruned yet, or playfully fling a lone grape at a friend or sibling. The sheep in the melon patch beyond would occasionally baa a guttural welcome as the workers made their way down the rows, and the swallows performed in grand acrobatic dives and arcs as they feasted on the insects disrupted by the harvest. Craving sweet nectar, bees gathered en masse to the sugary smell of the freshly-picked grapes, clustered around the crates and bins.
The severed bunches quickly filled the crates until they were stacked by twos and threes in rows nearly ten crates long. Then out of the corner of my espying eye I took in yet another growing collection of crates burgeoning with green and purple-black clusters that fairly shone with a ripe freshness that isn’t readily seen in most stateside grocery stores. Yet another collection of crates was mounding higher by the minute if my ears were correctly detecting the sounds of additional crates being stacked underneath one of my balconies where I couldn’t openly watch without being seen. By the end of the day it took three truckloads full of grape-stuffed crates to haul off the juicy bounty.
They were finished and gone an hour after noon, off either to prepare them for tomorrow’s outdoor produce market or to clean and smash them in some stomping frenzy to start the process of turning ripened grapes into the sweet wine for which Crete is famous.
To be busy with the grapes!