My most recent trip to California wine country, a prologue
There is something spectacular about driving alongside the west coast. It is as clean as a childhood memory. The unfettering breeze that flows through the car window whisks away all my lethargy, alive and easy. As I travel up the road past the city lights, I clearly see the rolling hills begin to form like moguls down a ski slope. The hills are arid & tawny colored, with sun-burned grass and dry clay-loam soils filled with powdery cracks that run up and down them like wrinkles on an older woman. The hills are brushed w/ mossy green trees and lush shrubs, contrasting the tawny colored bends like chiaroscuro on a mat screen. As I travel along the road I can sense the ocean to the west, though I cannot see it. The saline smell of oysters on the shore and the sounds of foamy waves inching up the coast-line let me know that the water is west of those hills, but I cannot see it. I close my eyes for a brief minute, steadying the wheel of the car, and feel the crabgrass underneath my feet. The rhythmic pulse of the tides takes hold for a moment, reminding me how vivid a human's senses can be when one's over-reliance on sight is discarded. I open my eyes, satisfied in the moment.
The windy roads snake along the bend of the hills sweeping broadly, with swift turns and slopes that linger through dusk. As the hot sun cools its rays, setting past the ocean to the west, I can't help but feel fresh and youthful. As a child I hated to travel by car. The trips seemed too long and the excitement of the destination would always end up agitating me. Perhaps that sense of anguish is what made the payoff all the greater when we finally wound up where we were going. The difference now is that this journey is a calming one. My thoughts were no longer of anxiety and impatience, but of observance and anticipation. The scents of the dusty herbs and the liveliness of the air conjured an almost idyllic feeling, a sense of warmth that is lacking in the cold, concrete months of a big city. The luxury of these thoughts seems to be at a premium as I grow old and become preoccupied with other such nonsense. I was content to think this way again, hoping I'd get to where the green vines would meet the mossy trees and lush shrubs soon. I hoped I'd get there soon...but if I didn't, that would be alright too. The only sin about coming to this place is that I know I’ll have to leave it.
Once I entered the tunnel on the main highway, I knew that the town of Buelton was almost in sight. I thought of sipping wine and smiled. This was going to be a great trip.
Notes to follow.