Tonight, I have taken a little detour from the wine trail, and if you indulge me, it is time to remember. Every February 14th and 17th I cross over two events, the birthday of my lost love, Liz, and the date she left us. It has been nine years and so hard to believe we have gone on without her. But life is exactly that way. Not selfish, just survival.
I met Francis Mayes last night, who single-handedly brought Cortona onto the world stage. Nine years ago, during the last Christmas in 2000, Liz gave me a book by Francis Mayes, the last gift she would ever give me. Books, in those last days, were our companions from a death soon to be delivered with slow and painful determination.
Death isn’t neat and the aftermath isn’t clean or quick. When I pull an older Italian wine out of my closet, something from the 1960’s or 1970’s, I think about the hands that touched those wines, hands that are now lifeless. And though those hearts no longer beat, the wine in the bottles carries the lifeblood of those souls who put their lives into the grape and the sun and the wine.
Yesterday, I made a trip to the Tokalon vineyard for a lesson in pruning. As I was cutting parts of the vine back, I thought about sections of my life that have been pruned, sometimes in extreme measures. Always, the vine lives and gives back energy to grow another season. Does a vine cry or is it merely the milk of the life force that a good pruner brings forth? The cycle of the vine and the days of a life are intertwined in their collective destinies of survival and output.
In California, it is spring. Last week in Texas we had a foot of snow, in a day. The week before in New York, there was wind and bitter cold. While winter still wrestles east of the Rockies, spring washes up on shore in California, and fields of mustard bathe the dormant vines in golden light.