Thursday, March 26, 2009

I’m standing in the graveled driveway in front of the house where I grew up when a kitchen on wheels pulls in. It has trailer house sides, but no steering wheel or windshield; the front end is a counter. Behind the counter is a friendly long-haired young couple I know from somewhere. They definitely know me. I say, “Welcome back.” The man offers me a cup of coffee. I say, “Coffee?” and the woman sighs and says, “Yes, that’s all we have this year.” After they give me the coffee, the man hands me three or four filtered cigarettes and a hand-rolled one that won’t stay together. I end up with loose tobacco in my hand.

Soon, a small crowd gathers, and we are inside the kitchen in a little sitting room behind the counter. I can’t find my coffee. A stranger points to a paper cup sitting on the window ledge. Through the ledge I can see the pine tree in our front yard. I notice then that I still have the cigarettes in my hand, and a new book of matches with several extra flaps, which are glossy-beige and unfold in opposite directions. Wondering if there is an advertisement for a correspondence course inside, I pry open the flaps. The inside cover is blank. I strike a match, but it goes out before I can light the cigarette. I try two more times, but a breeze coming through the window blows out the matches. Finally, I succeed. The cigarette has no flavor whatsoever.

Someone, I don’t know who, mentions the fact that the vineyards in the area are budding out beautifully this spring. Hearing this, I suddenly remember that I have completely forgotten to prune ten acres of vines along the north side of the property. I feel horribly guilty about this. Puffing on my flavorless cigarette, I realize that the only way I can possibly prune ten acres of vines is if I quit writing and prune like a madman for eight or nine hours a day to keep the vineyard from going to ruin. I am torn between what I should do and what I must do. I wake up thinking, “another vineyard dream.”

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