Friday, September 7, 2012

Scuppernong + Muscadine

     There they were, rolling about on the linen napkin, fresh from a still-dripping colander. Plump, some overly-ripe. One had already split, spilling its juice onto the counter.
     They were a word; you know that feeling when you look at an object, and a word bounces into your mind, perfectly-rounded and starkly correct. The word does more than simply describe. That word is that object, and that object is that word. In fact, the word so suits that you feel that surely God created the object as the prime definition.
     Well, these fruits were a word. A certain word: succulent. 
     I couldn't help but pop one in my mouth. Its pulp burst from the skin, spilling bitter seeds onto my tongue. And along with them came a host of memories:
     My grandparent's backyard in late summer. Fat-bellied bees lumbering on the bushes. A tangled scuppernong vine perfuming the air. A lazy cow blinking over the fence. The trees's leaves starting to tint with the first signs of autumn.
     Summer raises its farewell toast with scuppernong wine.

     Scuppernong. Usually pronounced in this part of the Georgia mountains as "skupper-nog" or, if you're my six year old self, "supper-nog."

     Apparently, there's some confusion between scuppernongs and muscadines. I know this...because I occasionally fall victim to it. For example, this Instagram image is rather woefully mis-captioned as "muscadine." To be honest, though, a scuppernong technically is a type of muscadine...which is, in turn, a type of grape....ah! the plot twists even more!
     Yet a generally-recognized distinction does exist, and if you walked up to an old-timer with a mislabeled pailful, you would certainly be corrected.
     So you want to know the big secret to telling them apart? At least this seems to be the only differentiating factor that I can find.
     One is green. The other is purple.
      Huge mystery solved for Abi.

     The greatest thing about these fruits: their names. Their wonderfully ridiculous Dr. Seuss names.
      In case you're wondering, the answer again is yes: I did walk around the house making up a "scupper-nong" song. After all, there is something lyrical about "muscadine wine."

     ....and so ends my muscadine rant.

     Go find yourself a vine and pluck a few. But before you feast, lift the handful to your face and breathe. It'll warm your insides: the bouquet of a dying summer.

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