One bright chill morning I awoke before dawn and waited for the sun to begin rising over the vineyard. Morning light is perfect for invigorating one’s spirit and for photography. In search of a picture or two, Woody and I wandered through the back-acre chardonnay and down a path I had hacked through the “unfriendly forest”. My kids nailed a sign that say “Unfriendly Forest” to a tree. It’s a scrub forest, full of buckthorn and juniper – completely impassable for the most part. The wildlife loves it and every starlit night I can hear a chorus of coyotes singing at the moon.
Part of our forest is a seasonal wetland, making navigation even more problematic nine months of the year. In the summer drought, it’s a dry area with deep quack grass. As the ground freezes, water piles up amongst the trees. When snow is lacking, it’s a wonderful spot to go skating – you can glide through the forest at high speeds, dodging the occasional tree and fallen branch. The ice isn’t clean and you run over bits of wood and grass, so you likely need to sharpen your skates afterward. The sacrifice is worth it. An aura of majesty can be found in the woods.
Woody scampers onto the ice ahead of me. He slips and slides, and dips his snout to joyfully munch on the snow. “Woody, I don’t think the ice is that thick over there,” I say to him, as he wanders onto some darker ice. Only thin ice never forms over the swampiest area – either it’s warmer from composting biomass or the water never sits still enough to gel. Woody pretends that he doesn’t understand and runs out into the middle of the black area, and promptly breaks through. He scrambles a moment and quickly retreats to thicker white ice where I’m standing. “I guess I know best, eh Woody?”
We admire the still outdoors a few moments longer and I dream about bringing our family out for some skating on Family Day. Then we hike through a winter wonderland back to the warmth of the winery.
A day of hard work awaits – racking and filtering wine, cleaning tanks and barrels, carefully preparing delicious wine for the busy tourist season a few short months from now. By the time the setting sun paints long shadows, the winery is saturated with rich aromas of chardonnay, vidal and French oak.
Surrounded by beauty we sometimes get desensitized. I can only smell and appreciate the glorious wine aromas if I step outside for a few moments and reset my nose by breathing pure winter air. When I come back inside, the beautiful smell of the winery assaults my senses.
Winter and summer, city and country, busy-ness and quietude. Each helps us appreciate the other.