Thursday, December 30, 2010

here comes a start

it's new years' eve eve, but when this posts it will be new year's eve. the washer is spinning and my belly is pleased and full. tonight was homemade pasta and squid in red sauce and garlic bread and salad and a good thick dessert with kiwis and crumble. all in our warm cantaloupe kitchen, with family, tucked in the valley's pocket, the river thrashing rocks recently resurfaced and the buds at work on branches while the bulbs poke down and up and everything readies.

one of these days we'll look out to new color, but the winter that sits beyond our windows, the leftward field of reds and yellows and browns and grays and greens and reds and oranges and yellows, lines and dots and squiggles and feathers and soft and hard and dull and sharp, is beautiful. texture. beds and beds and miles and volumes and bellies and mouths of texture. like an anemone in a pool with its tentacles waving. a starfish on the rocks with its sandpaper skin. the side of a whale pocked with barnacles. a new dish of paint, a pile of cheese grate , a bowl of popped corn and its buttery crannies, ice on the windsheild spreading as quills.

it's a new and old discovery, texture. it's what amanda and nathan give the wines, what bodhi's coat does in light, luna's siamese eyes and a little lady's eyelashes and always a spot of her hair in the back. a certain favorite's earlobes and iris. a book's edge of paper. in the summer the river's silt bed disturbed and blooming. the coat of an owl or a fox's whisker. the sound of hair on string or ice in a shaker or skis cutting snow or oak warming in creaks and pops post frozen-fog night. it's everything.

sometimes i fall a little too in love with texture. sometimes i don't take enough time to rein it. sometimes i make more texture than is needed. sometimes texture suffocates and other times, the best times, of course, it's just right. everything sings. you feel it in your chest. purity.

a fly i'd normally smack buzzing up in the light so the bulb and shade shed dust and the motes fall in whorls like a winter's white storm beneath streetlamp.

i'm glad to be here. i'm glad to want to run around with a magnifying glass and a bandana and a cap gun and be always in boots. i'm glad to see someone endlessly love to jump puddles. i'm glad to come upon orange bellied salamanders playing statues in the road. i'm glad for blackberries that will ripen and the length of light on its way.

happy new year all you. keep peeled. be listening.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Neil Diamond...really?

Nathan here with a few words...
Home from Christmas day festivities with my side of the family and sat down on the couch for a movie. As we prepared the movie, a Neil Diamond interview was playing on the TV, and being nearly Neil fans, we watched, delaying our movie for a bit. A question came, "have you ever met the members of the Monkees band", the band that recorded "I'm a believer", "Love to Love", and a couple of other big hits that were written early in Neil's career that had a significant impact on his future music endeavors. Neil said "no", he hadn't met them. I puzzled on this for a bit, and then the interview continued, "what is behind the song, Sweet Caroline", and the response came something like, I liked the sound of the name, it was inspired by the name Caroline Kennedy, not the person, the name. He was careful to articulate how the sound of the name inspired him, the phonetics of Ca-ro-line. I began to crave more beer as this interview continued.

How do you do that? Please, this is not as much a judgement as much as it is pure puzzlement, as in there is something here that I don't understand. How do you not care to meet the people that you sold your songs to this early in your career, even if you were working in a song factory like he was? Yes, I can see that disconnecting yourself from your work can become habitual later on in life, when you're beaten down by the corporate machine, but this early on? At that time he was fresh out of NYU, having just swashbuckled his way to fencing fame, not 5 years into his songwriting career, and he was already disconnecting from his work?

Then to the movie, it was the movie Everybody's Fine, with Robert Deniro. Good movie, not great, but good, and as a dad, it hit home. It was a movie about family, and the relationships between a father and his children. In the scene where Robert Deniro sees the painting by his son, the inspiration for this blog hit.

The wine business is full of families and it is steeped in tradition. The idea, or more to the point, the dream of a family working together is at the heart of Harris Bridge. I'll never forget coming back to the valley as I began to consider starting a small farm. I sat down with my aunt and uncle from the more conservative side of my family to talk about my life's plans. At that time, farming was an interest of mine, but it wasn't yet the fully developed plan that it eventually became, and so I simply told them that "I don't know what kind of work I will do, but whatever it is, I want it to involve my family". I might as well have said that I wanted to begin the first Corvallian bobsled racing team. Bewilderment and confusion set into their faces.

So, what do these experiences with Neil, Deniro and conversations with my aunt and uncle have to do with one another? They share the concepts of connection and meaning (or the lacking of these things), and they inspire related questions, questions like how do you become or remain disinterested in the people who are connected to you through your work? How is it that an emphasis on family became such a strange and bewildering concept, disassociated from a person's life work? And tying in the movie, how is it that Frank Goode, Deniro's character, the father, ends up so disconnected from his children, in the end being closer to an idea represented with oil and canvas than he was to his son, the living person behind the canvas.

This comes off as dramatic I'm sure, and that's alright, it is, because for me it is meaningful. At Harris Bridge, Amanda and I find connections with the people that we work with, mostly because we don't know how to go about our work any other way. In the tasting room we talk about where people are from, and what inspires them, and what they feel about music, or politics, or poetry, because the concept of sharing something that you create with someone else, without having any idea of who you shared it with, is foreign to us. Most of our wine releases are less than a hundred cases, and our strongest connection to a sold out vintage is found in the people that we handed each of one of those bottles to. For this reason, most of the time, if you get our wine, we get to know you, and if not on your first visit to the tasting room, then on the second, or third.

We ask for meaning in the place that we work and in the things that we create. Don't confuse this kind of intent with complexity, at times what we do is very straight forward. However, the reason that stories are laid out for you as you carry one of our bottles away, whether it comes in the scroll atop the bottle, or is shared through a conversation at the bar, is that there is meaning behind that bottle that we feel compelled to share. We don't know to go about this another way, and to produce and release something without these layers would seem empty to us.

The long and lonely winding gravel road that leads to our tasting room in the woods tends to split those that travel it into two groups, those who begin looking for turnabouts, and others who become more interested and curious, and press on. My sense is that Neil and Frank would be the turnabout type, and yes, the day that Neil Diamond shows up in our tasting room, I will admit that I was wrong about this. However, for those that continue, there is a valley that opens up in the woods, with a railroad and a covered bridge, and just off to the East of the bridge sits the winery. It is here that this dream I mentioned above, the dream of working with "family", is being realized through an extended family of partners and customers and friends. From the True Grit crew, to the Ivy's Axe dinners, to the opening night at the Hollow, Amanda and I appreciate finding and creating connection and meaning with you. Thank you for an amazing 2010, and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 24, 2010


dear christmas eve,

you were a little sunny today, i think, or those were the other days, last week, when i woke and the sky was a blue blast and the sun a whole bunch of shots blinding people unused to its presence. no, actually, i think you were today mostly gray, but to be honest i much prefer you gray than incredible in some spring or summer way, because, christmas eve, you're christmas eve, and if you can't be white i'd prefer you on the darker side, so to make the guts of houses cozier with their heat and holiday smells and people, oh the people.

christmas eve, the people were good this year. they bustled appropriately, and bundled against chill, and rode the trolly that ding-ding-dinged itself through the streets with foggy windows. they were thoughtful and some had tougher tasks than others, and some were more on top of it and some less so, but all of them were electric, and the energy was nice.

i have to say i wish i'd given a cow, or some books, or a toy or two or three. out here at the vineyard everyone put on their party hats and paraded through ideas and wrapping paper and twine and tissue.

christmas eve, if i may be so bold, may i ask for peace? not from the train, because i bet even trains get christmas eve off, and maybe even christmas day; and not from the hubub of people trying to make a little magic from an inexact potion and a sort of short fuse and maybe wet matches (but, dear c.e., we know these people are industrious, they know how to make fire from stone, the smack of two together, and probably have lint collected from the dryer or a frito and can use it to catch a spark and build a flame and create a heat that someone dear to them won't soon forget, will in fact jot down in his or her chest as the best christmas eve/christmas ever in the whole wide world so far); but peace like calm and a set aside of anger or unrest. a choice to accept rather than prescribe. a hope that no one is scared tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. for safety for all, because we all deserve that, and if we all had it all our lives then maybe our world that you're a part of tonight, christmas eve, would shape itself alittle differently. a little more kindly. a little more softly. a little more welcoming. a little like a hug.

there's a story i love to read. i can't tell it to you all the way but it's about a bear and all the hugs he gives. how he can't not hug as an answer to all problems. even when his life's problem is a logger come to chop his - the bear's - most favorite tree of all down. i have a favorite tree here. i see it every day i sit down to write and look out the window that abuts my desk. it is broad and bare and glows with moss in the gray, a fan of branches over field. in the summer, it's shade. in the winter, a kind of beacon. a little like a lighthouse, in that lighthouses mean saftey and to see one is to take care. this tree tells me take care, each time i look. in its peaceful feeling. its quiet majesty. and you better bet i look a lot.

so, christmas eve, dear christmas eve. take care. eat your cookies. watch for reindeer. tell hannukah hello and i'm sorry i missed it but i thought if it often. tell kwanza i look forward to seeing it and though we're unfamiliar i'd like to get to know it better. boxer day. boxer day. let it know i'll raise a pint in its honor. and to every other special day or eve, like every day of the year is some special day or eve for someone or something special, thank you. for always coming around. for never disappearing on any of us. for giving us a structure in which to grow.

sincerely yours,

Friday, December 17, 2010

a first friday

I work retail in town, in books, shelving words and building brief homes before realizing it’s not time to be home yet, it’s time to be working, and so I revive, a person underwater up for air.

I’d hoped to write these blogs without any I or me or us or we in them. Nothing of myself but the put-together of letters. Now I’m here and the place is a yard of personal pronouns, like a yard of old cars or a yard of rusting machinery but never so cool as either of those. Those are the places I drive by and want to stop, to poke around, to find a perfect hubcap or rake or to photograph the dying blue or green or orange paint of the contraption that so slowly, leisurely, decomposes.

The covered bridge crosses now ragey thick water, a wooden and white structure good for bouncing sound year round and in the summer a dim and cool break and in the winter a good close vantage point to all the action in the river near beneath it.

Yesterday for a while we planted tulip bulbs in borders. This is what I’ve missed: the abundance of visible life through winter – not so much people life or wildlife or pets that’ve grown their furs a little thicker, but the plants that take the dishing of rain and do something with it already in February. February! It’s unbelievable, but I’m ready to be convinced again. The colors will be pinks and reds and purple stripes and orange and there will be fluff and best of all, first of all, the leaves spearing through soil to show us that they did as we’d hoped – took root, advantage of the climate. Tulips are my favorite.

Last week we found the Chandler & Price in Hillsboro and then went to a Wonderland where we saw a little hitched white horse in the street. The end of the year is near. Have you found your theme yet? You might choose from these: monsters, mustaches, squids, octopuses, owls, and pretty or cool, or pretty and cool, baubles. Did you know that octopuses will eat their own legs to survive while guarding strings of young? If I’ve been had by this fact – as in if this is not so much a fact as a fiction – then I might prefer to remain in the dark, because it’s pretty beautiful, that devotion.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday Means Business

Amanda and I on the way to big cities. Window wipers excited with leaves. Maybe a hawk scoping field. Llamas in a yard with a boat and apple tree.


Amanda and the sun: there’s something certain to the day and its light and clouds that allows for her eyes to intake without tint. Which is nice, to be exposed. To feel less aggressed.

The Linger Longer.

The King Kone.

The Sprayfoam eagle!

A four-formation of flight.

Enchanted Forest!

Pruseco in the console to find once forgotten, like a twenty or five or one dollar bill in the gutter, then a pocket.

More birds, ducks, looking in their nearness inelegant but from far away streamlined, perfect, what all flying objects hope to be.

I forget traffic exists. The hugeness of a roadway, an incessance of cars, as in the cars won’t disappear, never a blank spot with only us and the asphalt and weather. Always other colors, always other windshields, all these other destinations we can only imagine and never imagine enough – never plain enough, exciting enough, thick enough or thin – it’s impossible to wholly capture the desire or dread or happiness or sadness that surrounds. We’ll arrive and return in a day, less than a day, twelve hours, less than twelve hours. Others will be quicker and others much, much slower.

A press of stories printing the vineyard, then a person’s wedding, a party, an anniversary, an opening, a reading, a thought. Someone in a necklace, someone barefoot, a quail bevy, the train. Buttons, cuffs, laces. The swimming hole, salamanders, crayfish. A bbq with corn in singed husks and blistering brats. A cartwheel, a handstand, a song.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

steve poltz! steve poltz!

here's the riddle:

who's a tall and lanky and hilarious and kind and generous and tender and brilliant innovator;

who sings about the long haul and then, at midnight, begins packing his cool, cool truckvan with equipment and gorgeously toned guitars and the swellest shirts and cds you ever did see and never quits smiling and joking and being ready for another handshake or hug and wants to see anything and everything he can before hitting the road again, again, again, devoted to his art and its getting out and about;

who sits your kitchen quietly picking before the show once you've arrived home from a full day to a transformed space of quiet, warm light and torches at the driveway's nose and holiday lights wound round the railing and big pale green globes of them inside that could be eerie but this night are just right, the audience gathering and the pallet stage set, the person you're in the presence of about to christen such space as a must-hit venue for intimate shows and artistic adventures to come;

who has the warmest manager, sweet about an earwig swimming and bobbing his drink, dedicated to not just a singer but very obviously a friend, their duo a particular structure of words and gestures and thoughts begun in one head and ended in the other, a seamlessness that knows one's best driving forward while the other rocks back;

who is this, who you could've seen last night, or could be seeing tonight, or might see tomorrow;

who do we miss already, now that he's gone, the second he and chris his manager left, and the tasting room took a big silent breath and its lungs seemed to wait to be filled again with what had just been, which was awesome, beyond awesome, a night of hearts and sleeves and so, so much laughter, until faces hurt, which is best;

oh, dear friends. it's steve poltz! steve poltz! go and find him and see him and love him as we who have done so already do.