It turns out that harvesting your own grapes is one of the best! things! ever! Not only do you get your own shiny little hook tool that looks like it should affix to the end of a pirate's fake metal hand, but you also get to dump your grapes from your personal collection buckets into a dump truck bed that empties into a grape crusher.
Then you get to watch hard working boys shovel things while Larry and Dayle ride around in their tractor! The entire experience is a 4-year old boy's dream: pirates, tractors, shovels and crushing machinery. Someone could make a fortune with a childrens' book on the subject. Pop-up perhaps?
Meanwhile, waking up at 6am to Dayle's farm-style breakfast kind of made me feel like Fern from Charlotte's Web (more along the lines of my 4-year-old dream). Though sadly, I was neither sporting cute overalls nor harboring a pet spider with magical weaving powers (note to self for next year). While we sipped our coffee, up came the sun, on went our wool hats and out went our crew of 15 into the fields, armed with shiny cutting hooks and a keg of beer.
By the end of 8 hours, Team Tryphon '09 had picked 4 tons of grapes. This meant that Larry and Dayle were happy, although exhausted from days of prep work preceding the event. Our fingernails caked with dirt, shoes covered in vineyard dust and cheeks pink from the mountain sun, we retreated back inside for a homemade dinner of smoked pork and butternut squash soup. (A well executed meal, but not the best choice for those of us working within the Charlotte's Web framework.)
Kicking back later that night, it felt wholly satisfying to have a long day of real farm work under one's belt. (Somehow, completing a long day of interactive copywriting doesn't quite result in the same degree of "hells yeah!") And it felt even better to take off said belt and get in my favorite hot tub West of the Mississippi (complete with a blue disco light and a moonlit view of the Sierra Foothills).
And just when I thought the awesomeness of the situation had reached its peak, the Tahoe Forest firefighter boys (the badass kind that fly around in helicopters and sprint into flames with axes and chainsaws) stopped over to check in on our day's progress and wish Miss Dayle a happy birthday. (I'm learning that everyone knows everyone in Camptonville, CA.) True to their mission, the "elite, multi-skilled professional wildland firefighters" upheld their tradition of excellence and kept us and our freshly crushed grapes very, very safe...