Appalachia

Drinking Water from Grapevines – Smoking Grapevines

hand with grapevine water in it

Water from grapevine by the creek

“When we were kids I remember the water dripping out of the grapevines when we broke them, hunting for a old big one to swing on…Don’t remember for sure drinking the water in the Springtime though. Do remember riding our bikes down an old dirt road after school in the Fall and seeing the ripening grapes, eating them and filling “chock full” the basket on the bike! If I remember Mom loved them and sent us back to hunt more and she made a run of jelly. We barely got enough for eating them on the way back home! When I was in 7th or 8th grade I was introduced to grapevine smoking. We cut a bunch of small pieces and dried them a day or so…Most of the time where we had played their were broken pieces laying about that was already dried or drying….They made a lot of smoke…guess due to the previous water that had been drying in the hollow stems. Boy, oh boy did we think we had one on our parents…Nope, Mom said she could smell smoke on our clothes…remember this wasn’t a tobacco smell. More like a campfire smell. She warned us that if she caught us playing with any matches she would wear us out…and she meant it too!”

—B. Ruth – 2016

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Pap taught me about water coming out of grapevines and he told me stories about him and his buddies trying to smoke grapevine cuttings like B. Ruth did when he was a boy.

Tipper

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 15, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    Nobody mentioned smoking corn silks but that would have come in the fall of the year after the sap had already come down in the grapevines. We tried smoking real tobacco too. We grew a tobacco patch every year. But it wasn’t much good either. Tobacco has to be cured and aged before it is “good”.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 15, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Tipper,
    I’ve never drank a Grapevine, we had several Creeks to choose from, and crystal clear water. But I’ve smoked Grapevine, talk about a hot fire, a Dragon couldn’t do any better.

    Many years ago, The Deer Hunter came to the house, we had planned to cut a bunch of Birch trees near the Creek. Tipper and the Girls were in Kentucky with some of their friends, singing and dancing. Meanwhile, me and Matt were left to cutting wood. I saw right off he was real good with a Powersaw, so I just loaded as he sawed. In a few minutes as Matt neared the branch, he was sawing and had to quit to let the water out. He called me and I swear there was at least 4 or 5 gallon of water come pouring out or that Birch.

    Don Casada said “we shoulda caught some, that that would’ve made Great Beer.” But we had never saw such a thing and just watched it pour out. …Ken

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      June 15, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Ken, was the tree holler? I cut into a many a holler tree that was full of water. If you are cutting pulpwood or logs you just leave it. If you are cutting firewood, you let it drain and cut it up. A holler tree is desirable for firewood because it’s so easy to split. That’s if you’re cutting for yourself. If you are buying logs for firewood you don’t want them unless your paying by the pound.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 15, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I have tried grapevine water. At the right time of year (though I don’t know just when that is, probably just at bud break) it is pure and cool. Later though, I think, when the ‘sap is up’ it starts tasting ‘green’ and when exposed to the air turns ‘gummy’.

    Don’t recall ever smoking grapevine. We smoked rabbit tobacco instead. That was supposed to help with asthma as having a pillow stuuffed with rabbit tobacco reportedly also did.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 15, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I don’t remember drinking or smoking grapevines, other use was more important. The old timers swore the liquid would make ones hair grow when used to rinse after shampooing. It must have worked, as we all looked like a fully dressed Lady Godiva with hair so long we used to sit on it.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    June 15, 2019 at 8:35 am

    Mama and one of her sisters set a bale of cotton on fire while trying to smoke in the cotton house. Her sister (she said!!) decided if she stuck the burning object down in the cotton it would go out. Of course it didn’t & Mama said they were both running around yelling that they didn’t do it! Losing a whole bale of cotton was a bad financial blow but she says they were never punished for this. They were also guilty of breaking the dam at a nursery my grandfather worked at which held water to water the little trees. Again, they got off scott free!

    We used to smoke grapevines and rabbit tobacco, too. Didn’t know about the water in the vines though. Strangely enough I can’t remember ever picking or eating the grapes. We did pick & eat huckleberries and hazelnuts.

    Tipper, I have has a pretty bad week–couldn’t breathe Monday night & we had to get an ambulance. Don’t remember ever being that frightened. Turned out it was a heart attack!! It was one clog & I got a stent put in. I’m home & doing pretty well–on restriction for a while. Everyone was super kind to us which made it all easier. I would surely appreciate yall’s prayers.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    June 15, 2019 at 7:24 am

    I don’t remember drinking water or smoking grape vines. I do remember eating lots of them before they were ripe and felt like I wanted to die. I also did the same thing with apples. You would think you would learn but I am sure I did it more than once.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    June 15, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Smoking a grapevine, I know I done at least once. I still remember getting choked on the smoke. I hadn’t thought about that in years and years.

  • Reply
    Tmc
    June 15, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Don’t ever remember drinking the water from a grapevine, or smoking one, our favorite smoke was rabbit tobacco and grocery sacks, now we thought we were doing something, I can remember the burn in the back of the throat, it was good for gnat and mosquito repellant also, you’d fire up one of those rabbit tobacco cigar size grocery bags and you’d run every biting gnat and mosquito into the next county.

    • Reply
      b. Ruth
      June 15, 2019 at 10:40 am

      TMC…So funny…we tried smoking rabbit tobacco too…When I reread this morning…I got to thinking that I had not seen a patch of rabbit tobacco in years. When I was a kid it grew all along a hard clay rocky area, that we kept flattened playing ball and riding our bikes…Guess I need to walk along the driveway and see if I can see it again..as I remember it was a light green almost white two foot plant with ovate leaves along the stem..
      Thanks Tipper,
      Wow, do I see all the mistakes in this little story I wrote…sorry about that…

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