Half Raisin, Half Grape

grapesMonday, mid morning, I found my five year old Sara, in the kitchen,
Curious, standing on her stool at the island counter,
Fiddling with the 24 table grapes on the plate,
The ones that were part of our experiment,
The ones that would answer all of our questions.

I admit, my questions:

How long does it take to make a raisin from a grape?
I don’t know daddy…
Will our raisins taste better than the ones out of the box?
I don’t know daddy…
Over time, what the heck goes on inside of a grape anyway?
And how? And why? And so on…

“Hey Sara Bear, how many grapes on that plate?”
I was tempted to start grouping them for her.

“I don’t know daddy, do you want me to count them?”

“Good Idea!”

She proceeded to add up the slightly shriveled, sweet, marooned Californians,
Some more wrinkled than others.
I proceeded to put on a fresh carafe of coffee.


“One…. two…. three… four….” from her voice.
Every number had deep meaning to her, reported in her voice,
And she pronounced them carefully.

“Twenty-four Daddy…Daddy waddy ka-paddy!”

Empty coffee cup in hand, waiting as the coffee dripped, I came to the notion
It would be as good a time as any,
To impart nature’s mystic wisdom,
So I started;
The grape was born from a little seed,
The grape on the vine developed and matured,
Sugars and acids and chemical processes,
Very complicated,
The nutrition of the thing…
I really didn’t know much about grapes, I was speculating, improvising.

“Daaad, this is boring, please stop talking.”
She picked up one of our experiments and ate it.
I followed.

Chewing, “No problem sunshine, why don’t you go watch cartoons,
I’ll bet Arthur’s on, I need to get some work done in here.”

stop watching the clock-ra212d89d39d24242bb9d32944fcda72a fup13 8byvr 216“Daaaad? When is Phoebe’s mom gonna call?” Her lower lip,
Sweetly curled up and out, over her top lip, sort of an up-side-down smile.

“I told you, at 11.”

Impervious to my impatience, “When will it be 11?”

I glanced at the digital display on the stove. “In about 20 minutes.”

She came to me, and with the slightest of pressures,
Wrapped her question, and her arms around my legs.

“When will it be 20 minutes?” she said and that tightened my lips. The coffee dripped.

When will it be twenty minutes? How would I explain?
Should I now teach her how to tell time?
No, leave it to Ms. Devlin at Kindergarten.
Raisin’ a kid is tough work if you can get it.

“Come over here darling.” We clasped hands and moved to the stove.

“What is this?” I tapped it once.

“It’s a tea kettle.”

“And what’s it for?”

“Mama makes mint tea with it.”

“How does she do that?”

“With a tea bag.” Left handed, I took one out of the cookie jar and dangled it.

“And what else do we need?” I said.

“A cup.” She said. Right handed, I put my empty cup down and inserted the bag.

“Then what?”

“We need to turn the stove on to make the water hot.”

“goooooood…how hot?”

“Really, really, really hot!”

“It has to boil, right?”

“What does boil mean daddy?”

“It’s when the water starts to bubble.”

“Ohhh, like spaghetti?”

“Yessss...so how do we know when the water is boiling?” My voice rose all the way to boiling.

tea-kettle-2-645x754“It’s ready when the tea kettle starts to whistle.”
I said, “Of course”, we would not see the bubbles inside of a closed kettle.
Sara lit up at the thought of a whistling tea kettle,
She actually began to whistle a tune, I was elated.
I had discovered that she could carry one, and the tune was new to me.

Out of nowhere, she hopped a few times in place.
Then the glee on her face turned to a very concerned frown.

“Daddy, is it 20 minutes yet?”

“Not yet Sara, now listen,
If we really, truly, badly want a cup of tea,
Then we turn on the tea kettle, (click)
And we go watch cartoons or something and before you know it,
The tea kettle starts whistling.
Kettle whistles, we come and make the tea right?”


“But if we stand here and watch the tea kettle and wait for the water to boil
It will seem like a really, really long time and we will be frustrated, right?”

“Yes daddy.”

“So go watch cartoons and don’t wait for the phone to ring or you’ll go crazy.”

“I have a better Idea papaluka,” Sara picked up her little blue stepping stool
And placed it next to me by the stove.
She stepped up and looked up at me with full-on dimples and her smile, then:

“Why don’t we watch the tea kettle getting ready to boil water for a while,
So we don’t have to worry and be frustrated
About waiting for the phone to ring!”

I took a deep drag (sorry to say), held it longer than normal,
And then exhaled.
"Mama says don’t smoke". Sara’s little arm swirled the artificial cloud away.

Suddenly, the phone rang.
It was Phoebe for Sara Bear.
She was ready for Sara to come over and exchange valentine’s gifts.
Sara put down the phone,
Scurried to the laundry room and before I knew it,
She was jacketed, snow booted,
And on her way to the house next door, trudging through the snow and frost of the day.

After all of that, I walked over to the stove,
Took the whistling kettle from the heat, poured my wife’s tea,
Added a bit of sugar and noticed the full pot of coffee so I poured myself a cup,
Then I passed by the island counter and popped a random
“Half grape, half raisin” Into my big mouth.
At the other end of the room, I sat down on my chair, at the kitchen table,
My back to the glass door wall.
I gazed at the empty legal pad just west of me,
And thought about the sunny winter morning on my back and to my east.

I fiddled with the pen, and then the phone rang.
It was Sara Bear.
“Hey Daddy, did the tea kettle whistle yet?”
“I already turned it off kiddo.”
“And dude, don’t eat up all our experiments eether!”
“Don’t worry pickle breath, I won’t.”
She started laughing hysterically and just as quick, click,
She hung up the phone.
I got up, floated to the kitchen island and slid the plate of 21 Californians
Back into the flood of sunlight (it had shifted considerably)
So that our experiment would continue to be.