Above: Wild grapes in bloom, Illinois, May 25, 2017
Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783–1840)
Rafinesque, a botanist, proposed a theory of evolution before Charles Darwin, which Darwin acknowledged in the 3rd edition of the Origin of Species.
I read a few pages from Rafinesque’s American Manual of the Grape Vines and the Art of Making Wine for the 50th volume of the Non Fiction Collection. The selection I picked to read concentrated on the many uses of the grapevine, some of which are probably overlooked today.
“Vines live from 100 to 500 years, when allowed full scope, their roots and stems become very large, sometimes several feet in circumference. The bark is used for straps, ropes, baskets, mats, etc. The wood of the root and stem is very hard, and has a fine grain; it resembles Walnut and cypress, is employed to make tables, doors, implements, etc. which are very durable.”
The woods here in the Midwest USA are overrun with wild grape vines. Spotting a wild grape vine in blossom this spring while out for a walk, I decided on this reading, and I adapted the photo for the cover of the 50th volume of the nonfiction collection, of which I have been the editor for the past 22 volumes. I liked the symbolism of re-birth and abundance, the grape stamens flung out in all directions and the tiny grapes forming. The wild grapes ripen in early fall.
Here are some other pictures from my recent walks…
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