Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wine Weekend

, Canada! Thank you for being there after all these months and months and months of separation! The Things About You We Love Best were all still there, almost exactly as we had left them. It felt so very good to be back.

The last time we were in Canada--in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, specifically--was well before the pandemic. In the ensuing months/years, our wine cellar dwindled sadly, and we missed all of our friends. Each time we drank the last bottle of a particular wine from Canada, we sighed wistfully, wondering how long it would be until we would be able to go back.

An invitation to Big Head Wines' (our favourite winery) New Release party on 5 June showed up in my email late in May. Rick and I had been to their last big party back in 2018, before Covid made such things impossible. We researched travel requirements for driving to Canada, Rick got the time off approved for a quick jaunt north, and we RSVP'd happily that yes, we'd be there. They kindly booked a tasting for us the day before the party. 
They know us so well.

Our stay would be short--arriving Saturday and leaving Monday--with the party on Sunday afternoon. We decided that we wouldn't try to cram a lot of stuff into the abbreviated weekend, but instead focus on relaxing, reconnecting with friends, and good wine. So we did all of those things.

After some lunch and a nice walk on Saturday, we headed to the winery where we were enthusiastically greeted by all the Big Head family. We were led to our tasting bar, and although we were supposed to have tasted with another staff member since the family were all busy getting ready for the party, Andrzej (owner, winemaker, and my Canadian husband) insisted upon doing it himself. As he always does. 

This is always wonderful for Rick and me because we not only taste wines that are still in tanks and barrels, we also learn so much about how he makes wine. Even if you're not Wine Nerds like us, it's fascinating to hear about his decisions and methods (which include making wine in concrete, terra cotta, and Slovenian oak, among other vessels). We also got a sneak preview of wines that were being released at the party. 

Sunday was Party Day, but before that, we were able to reconnect with a friend of ours of many years. She dropped by our inn after breakfast for some catching up, and we had a nice chat on our private balcony. The weather was nothing short of perfect the entire weekend, and we spent a lot of time out there, sheltered by a redwood and bamboo, among other shade givers.

We made sure we were on time for the Release Party because we knew there would be a big turnout. Its guest list is usually about 500-700 people. The winery, already big and airy, had all its doors open and there were canopies set up outdoors. New wines were being poured in appropriately shaped glasses--not a fragment of plastic anywhere--and samples of all their offerings were also available at tasting bars strategically placed. 

And the food! It was catered by Treadwell's, a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant/caterer. It was delicious and smart:  mini porchetta on focaccia sandwiches, frites with garlic aioli, house made soppressata on focaccia, honey soy glazed pork belly, bbq beef cheek sliders, wild mushroom toasts, and probably more. But I could have eaten nothing but that pork belly all day. And every day. 

As it often happens, we met many truly nice people at the party and had some great conversations. Some were about wine, some were about Big Head and their new winery, and of course, some were about the state of the world. Many were about the state of America and its politics. As to the latter, they expressed support and pity, and they hoped that we'd get our collective shit together because it's concerning. I assured them that we are trying and that we more than share their concern.

Our one stop on the way home Monday was to pick up our...several cases of wine and say our last goodbyes to Andrzej and family. At the border we declared our haul and, after a bit of eye rolling and sighing, the agent justified our cargo by referring to our Pandemic Dry Spell and saying we were grandfathered in. Both traffic and our hearts were light on the way home.

Getting back to Canada and our friends was an Unexpected Joy. I am already looking forward to a return trip. If you click the link above for Big Head, you can meet my International Husband, his family/our friends, and read about some of the wines we experienced and bought there. I wish you could have come with us. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

The World Is Too Much With Me, To Paraphrase Wordsworth


I've been away an awfully long time, and I hardly know how to start in again. First, let me say a grateful and slightly embarrassed Thank You to the Kind Readers who reached out to express concern. I'm perfectly healthy. I had no falls and no illnesses. I am again so astonished at the kindness of my community here.

I will say, however, that after feeling entirely Fed Up With March, I was Quite Dismayed With April. It didn't get any better, really, and Spring was capricious and slow in her arrival. I know that so many of you had the same sort of rollercoaster weather. Daffodils rose, bloomed, and were bowed with ice and snow. One day, I could take a long and lovely walk; the next, I watched in desperation as it poured buckets of rain and my furnace kicked on. What a mess.

May arrived, I turned 63, and Mother's Day was a gloriously sunny day in which my husband and sons set out my porch and patio furniture. They also got my pond mucked out, the waterfall falling, and reset the basketball hoop so that they could play Around The World and shake off some rust. Zydrunas came over and happily chewed a huge stick. Rick and Jared made dinner. It was simply The Best Day.

But I am constantly reminded of the William Wordsworth quote "The world is too much with us" and I know many of you are, too. My life continues in its orbit, more or less, but I cannot help but be affected by the suffering and madness that is outside my small perimeter. I feel outrage, helplessness, sorrow, and worry. It's a challenge to be informed and involved without sacrificing my mental health.  I am so thankful not to be in the classroom anymore, but I despair for friends, family, and colleagues who are. Actually, my heart goes out to anyone who is in the classroom now; I cannot imagine that life for any of you--teacher, student, administrator, janitors--at this terrible time in our history.

Even though I say "outside my small perimeter", all of these things affect me because I live in this world. I want it to be better. I want safety from too many guns. I want women to have control over their own bodies and their own destinies. I want people to have equal access to the ballot. I want lower drug prices. I want better access to child care for working parents. I want fair representation free from gerrymandering. I want the people who are responsible for the January 6th Insurrection at all levels to be held responsible. I want Putin to leave Ukraine alone. I want republicans to just stop it. I want the majority to matter again.

It's wearying and tiring to care. I still find Joy in so many things. We are enjoying the lakehouse and boating. Our time there is relaxing and rejuvenating. There is a bald eagle there that thrills me every time it swoops low over our shoreline, sometimes with a fish in its talons. The mallards glide so smoothly and look so dignified on the surface, like little maitre d's in a banquet hall. Now and then a bluebird will alight on the tree by the deck, and that never stops being wonderful.

I'll try and write here much more often, starting now, and starting small. Thanks for sticking around.


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