As I came through the door, the brightly colored box lying on the kitchen table grabbed my attention. “Hmm? What’s this?”
Lifting the box, my eye caught the curious scene printed under the label. All around the lid, rows of purple grapes hung on vines, peeking out of the dark-green leaves. Two fancy glasses with straight, skinny handles under the cup part, held something red. Next to them was a really old stone house with shutters. I’d seen a house like that in a movie Grandpa and I watched. He’d said the houses in France looked like that where his unit served during the war.
The label had loops and swirls. Wine Making Kit, I read. I turned it over and over in my hands, but didn’t see how those glasses could be inside such a thin package.
Clutching the newly-discovered curiosity, I ran to my mother’s bedroom.
“Mom, did you see this box? I found it in the kitchen.”
“Oh, hi, Honey!” Mom pulled her housedress over her slip; the dressier outfit now on the bed. “Yes, I brought it home from work today.”
“You’re gonna make wine?”
“I am! Isn’t that fun?”
“But, Mom, no one in our family drinks wine, do they?” I scrolled through my mental list of all the relatives I’d met in my twelve years of life. I couldn’t think of a single person who would want Mom’s gift of homemade wine.
“Well, no, but I don’t plan to give it away. It’s for us!”
“You can‘t give wine to kids, can you?”
I’d been following Mom through the house as we spoke, and when she reached for her apron, I knew something was up. I had smelled the lasagna already cooking in the oven. Why did she need her apron?
“Oh, you’re right, Honey. Well, Daddy and I’ll enjoy it.” Mom picked up the box and headed for the basement steps.
“You and Daddy never drink alcohol.”
“Oh, expand your vision, dear. Try something new now and then, I say. Just because we don’t do it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ever do it. Everyone’s making wine at home these days. Merle brought some of the wine she made to work so we could all have a taste. It’s really good; besides, the hardware store had a sale on the kits this week.”
I took a seat on the basement steps, out of Mom’s way, but I focused my eyes on everything she did. Opening the little box, Mom laid out the contents and began to read the instructions. I’d been right; there wasn’t any glassware inside the package.
Mom opened a storage cabinet, pulling out a large glass jug. After adding water, she dumped the contents of a packet into the jug. Struggling to pull something that looked like a large balloon over the opening of the thick, glass container, she sighed when it took hold. It just hung limp against the bottle.
Lastly, Mom set the jug in the middle of one of the two deep washing sinks, turning to me with a huge smile. “Now, we wait.”
“How long do we have to wait to see your vision expand?” I returned her smile as I posed my question.
“I don’t really know, Honey. The instructions didn’t actually give a specific time on that, but I’ll keep checking it from time to time. The balloon will get bigger during the process, so I assume it’ll be done when it’s fully-inflated. Let’s keep this as a little surprise for Daddy, okay?”
The sink was deep enough that the jug wasn’t visible unless one came over to look in, so a surprise might be possible. “Not sure Daddy wants to expand his vision?”
Already heading up the steps, Mom put her index finger to her lips, and I nodded my consent.
Throughout the evening, I caught Mom slipping away to check on her jug. A barely-perceptible shake of her head answered my unspoken question.
By the second day, I began to wonder if Mom’s balloon still sagged against the bottle, so I sneaked down to steal a quick peek. It was beginning to inflate but had quite a ways to go.
Soon, I lost interest and forgot about Mom’s wine-making adventure. Unfortunately, so had my mother.
Then, one evening, the surprise escaped. Kaboom! The explosion sent us running to the basement. Red wine dripped from everywhere.
“Looks like neglecting an expanding vision can get pretty messy, huh, Mom?”
A True Story
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