The road whisked us along the mountain trail, once a stream for winter runoff. As the autumn light faded, the ancient crags loomed ominously. We were on our way down now.
The life cycles of birth and destruction are all around us and found in everything. The animals accept it; the plants give in to it. Most of us are still fearful of it.
When forces large as fate descend upon us, we have no choice but to gaze upon them without shield or cloak. Nothing can stop it; no thing can protect us from the reality of it. Not wrapping paper, or holiday lights or seasonal music. Or sun lamps.
All we can do is wait for the harvester to pluck us and maybe turn us into wine. Or vinegar.
Waiting is what they are still doing, more than two years after Katrina hit. From above, one can still see the path of destruction that has reshaped a region. On the ground, hopeless folk wait for help from their countrymen. But a war must be waged on, we must all descend into Hell a little more. The grapes sit in the tank, fermentation is stuck, the barrels stop churning. Stopped.
From the north, the wind brings rain and snow and bitter cold. Inside, the juice waits, not yet wine, not anything but a tumbled mess of pulp and seeds and bitter fruit and a little spark of life in the light hissing of the gas put off from the massive weight of the crush.
More rain, more snow, more darkness is on its way. Hurrying to finish the tanks, filled with the blood of the gods, it presses on. Forcing their way into something useful, maybe even wonderful. One thing is certain, if it is to be wine, it must have a strong heart and a will to make it through the darkness and the bitter cold.
Once it has made its way towards becoming something other than a failed attempt, then it begins its long, solitary march towards refinement. Again, in darkness and silence, the new born waits, barely stirring. As if the mediation in the barrel would be enough. As long as all that it needs to be great came through the vine and made it through the hopper, the crush and the selection. Otherwise all it would become would be worthless plonk for a million barren shelves in anonymous supermarkets, in towns long forgotten by greatness or destiny. But that day of reckoning is still some time off. Now is the time for more slumber in the quiet and the dark of the secured cellar room.
And if time and the fates have showered light and greatness upon the miraculous liquid, then someday they will make their journey to far away lands. Just like the immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries did, coming to a new world, looking for new paths to greatness.
They will have to overcome the barriers to entry into the new world. Just like the 21st century immigrants, often branded criminals, many for want of a better life. But in this case the barrier will be in the exchange of the price from the strong currency of their motherland to the weak one of this New Power. Once again they will have to prove their value, as if making it through the crags and the sticks and the storms and the flush of fermentation wasn’t challenge enough. No, now they will have to be subjected to the animal, known as man, and his market forces. Powers that restrict the flow of trade, manipulating the value of the currency. If the wine is strong and unmitigated and the agents and angels oversee their path to entry, then they will have made it in. But, even then, it is not finished.
Then the animal, known as wine, must rise above the inert forces of lethargy and make a solitary ascent to that last mountain. For in order to be seen and heard and loved, they will have to be known. And only if they are seen and heard and known by enough will they make it up into the craggy peak, where they can then release their precious nectar along the mountain trail, into the stream where it can runoff into glasses, to be loved by many. Only then.