Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dinner at Luc and the perfect day

Nathan here with a few words...dinner at Luc - oh, beautiful. We just arrived back home after a day that needs to be talked about. Today represents an arrival point for our little venture, a culmination of things and ideas and dreams that began over 15 years ago. Today we had the music of good friends Jeremy Donaldson, John Simonds, and Randy McCoy, and it seemed like the tasting room was constantly filling with new friendships, with people being introduced and reunited. We capped the day with an Ivy's Axe wine club dinner at Luc, a restaurant in Corvallis. The dinner is an extension of a tradition that began several years ago, with Amanda, myself, and two of our first wine club members, my uncle Quintin and aunt Debbie.

I need to talk about Luc for a moment. The food was fantastic. The restaurant is specific and full of the depth of character that only a place that is run by its visionaries can be. Chef Ian's menu clearly represents what he loves about food; marrow and butter and pate and all things Oregon like butternut squash, and the simple perfection of common loves like eggs and bacon. Ian is about to be a new dad, and you feel that anticipation in the restaurant, and you are aware that you are in a place that is "real" enough (my cousin Eric never understands my use of this word, hopefully you will) that if a baby were to come at that time, you might not get a meal, because he IS the chef. Adrienne's wine list was the same, including wines that were hand selected with clear intent. Whether they are your style or not is beside the point. The wines represent the vision of a person, and collectively, the wine list tells you about that person and what she loves about her work. The people we shared the dinner with included neighbors and friends, wine club members, fellow winemakers and a future winemaker. Our table was full of people that Amanda and I knew, but who hadn't met one another until that evening. Like some divining rod for injurious (a stretch, but seems applicable here) laughter, we began to bend toward an evening that Amanda and I will never forget. It is fortunate that we were not booted from the restaurant with all of our carrying on (thank you Amity for sticking with us). So, what is the point of all of this? I just broke a facebook post length record trying to tell the world about our day, so I'd probably better not try to articulate something as complicated as a conclusion. Let's just close this by saying thank you to all of those we know who represent themselves in what they do, and who pour themselves into their life's work (whatever that work is) with clear intent and meaning, and for letting us share in that space with you. We are lucky to know all those that we have met through our work at the winery, and we look forward to years ahead with you. Thank you, and good night!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

tonight the weather's working.

i can see the flakes just past the light, ghostly bright. the wind all push: more snow to come, more ice, more cold. something arctic is upon us, and it's strange.

listening to it all reminds me of wyoming, of the second story bedroom in a storm off open plains thrown down the mouth of laramie valley. the dark wasn't dark but orange, really; that's how i've always told snow. a glow in the sky like the lights of town but the clouds and behind them a new pulsing organ.

as a child, snow was only special. we were lucky to get it and lose a day of school, two if we could manage, if the weather was on our side. we'd roll whiteness to balls to roll bigger, into bodies, into towers. we'd pull sleds down silent streets to find any hill to ride down.

wyoming made snow commonplace, and, i suppose, minnesota before that. massachusetts first of all. when i could i moved to places whose winters meant more than endless rain. it wasn't intentional, but happened. green was an option for coats or boots or tights. not the color of things still alive, drawing life to their hearts and spreading slow and gentle as an unalarmed octopus.

this storm feels more like a storm than anything i've been in for years. more than the blizzard of last christmas in laramie when the roads shut down and we were prisoners of our valley. we made do. we skied. we built fires and baked and slippered around the house and snuggled all we could.

this storm feels more than the storm that dumped and dumped until our shoveling made chest-high walls along sidewalks and driveways, looming over toddlers, blinding in the sun.

more than the storms that set my alarm to wake me every three hours through the night to take the stairs into subzero twin-cityscape and pray my car would turn again, its engine breathe and motor roll. boxes of fish at the airport awaited my claiming, to pack them in the truck, deliver them back to the shop where the rest of the crew would be by 5:30, barely awake, dragging boots, wielding knives and sloshing hot water and bleach far better than anything their mouths could make to translate heads and what sat in them.

all this to mean what? that it's a little thrilling out here, up here, on the top story with the old oaks creaking and the flakes smacking windows. i don't know if the kids across the road have any idea, and i wish i could see them find it. watch the amazement, pinch a little of that joy to keep with myself as i sit in the morning at this window again, looking out on who knows what - a winter wonderland, a sludgy slop, a rink of ice and gravel and crystalline leaves. here comes the train, a slug in the dark, spreading the nearby field with light in its turn, announcing itself past our windows that we've darkened to watch something we've seen a hundred times be made beautifully new.

Monday, November 15, 2010

it has been harder, this year, for my brain to take daylight savings. i love that initial "extra" hour, and then, once the transition's happened, i can't believe noon looks and is so much later. an hour, only, i know, but so, so much later.

when i lived in wyoming, a favorite friend yearly anticipated fall-back and the earlier dusk that allowed her to begin nesting at four, get a hot, smelly meal going, start a drink and finish it and start another to finish. we navigated several years of seasons in laramie together, and what i remember most are the dark nights spent at her house while snow fell or sat in its collection or the thermometer dove deep through the negatives. she'd make something thick and garlicky and we'd drink wine and watch TV and if we were lucky eat cake at the end and sit and be warm. happy. satisfied. tucked.

i've never lived outside a town or city before, clear of the blanketing light of dense population. here, darkness is dark. i sit at the window and all there is to see is me, reflected back, maybe the neighbor's dim porch light if the night is clear. dark is quiet is river and frogs, a rare car or truck taking the road, thumping the bridge.

yesterday we put away bird netting. we'd relieved the vines of it but needed still to tie incrementally and store for next year. next year's beauty, its sugars and bunches and long summer light. we began dry and finished wet but for several afternoon hours it was warm if also mutely lit, misty hilled, damp furry air. work here isn't work amid moss and quail and salamanders, those frogs again, that river. amanda and nola and patrick and nathan. bodhi the dog. anne the friend. the cat luna sneaking out the upstairs door. caterpillars and black and orange creepers and gall wasp globes and dirt. rain and gray and blue and heat and new plants and established roots and ideas, always ideas. there's a pregnancy here, an urgency that's kind enough to plant us in moments.

we arrived here in august. it's already november. it's only november. we know a new two, we see our two old twos, a small girl calls us by name, she sings for our dog and cat and sees a hat and knows whose head it owns. the nights come quickly, angling off hillsides and sealing the valley. we heat our kitchen colored summer's melon flesh with dinner, we wake to grapevines shrouded, deer out the windows, bats swooping blindly, coyotes' yips of kills or love or weeping. in a time of such instability we are surrounded by steadiness - friendship, growth, family, love. if we understand little else we can be assured the grapes will come back, their leaves unrolling first, next their nub fruits, sweetness steamrolling, bankside bramble becoming berries of a black to stain us with summertime, our motion always toward.