Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back To The Garden

West of Napa ~ East of Eden

After spending a week in Napa Valley, we headed over the hill to Sonoma. Destination: Occidental, California. The sun that had been our companion for two days headed back behind the clouds. Driving, I was reminded of the John Mayall song, California.

Going back to California
So many good things around
Don't wanna leave California
The sun seems to never go down

I remember that song playing in the eight track player of my Fiat sport coupe as I discovered the California of my youth. The saxophone solo, the guitar, the flute, the raspy, bluesy voice of Mayall.

There is something about the way the air of California caresses me. I grew up with it in southern California, but on a good day in the north, there was only one thing better for a California youth. I have never felt it in New York or Texas or Italy. It is unique for me in California. The place is a huge visceral caress.

Maybe that was why my son asked me to come visit him in Occidental. He was looking into a possible position with the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. What was once, in my time, the Farralones Institute, is now what I call a “think-farm”.

California - that is a good place for home
California - I'll be back there before long

As we drove through the hills from Sebastopol to Occidental, getting a little lost along the way, there were signs of the early Italian immigrant. With names like Piezzi Road and Rossi Road, Mancini Road and Cuneo Court, I could feel the souls who had passed through Ellis Island and ended up eight miles from the Pacific Ocean. They had found their Paradise. Grapes, figs, apples, nuts, land, mud, sun, salvation.

“I don’t think I can live in a city right now, Pop.” My son is searching for his place in the sun, somewhere away from the big tree, so he can grow in his own right. There was no arguing, this was a beautiful place. Organic gardens filled with the most wonderful and edible plants. Tradition born from the dawning of the new age. I recognized what he was looking for was something our Italian ancestors had been looking for all the way back to Columbus.

California - there is a good place to be
California - that's where I'm feeling so free

After a week in the high concept of Napa, which I admit openly that I love, here we were in this little pocket, this vortex of a place that is an original part of California. Grapes are everywhere, as are young women with long hair and long dresses. Such a departure from the day before, when we went to a special tasting of new releases on Howell Mountain. The new ultra-modern green building, a state of the art facility, a Leed certified winery on its way to becoming Leed Gold. The winemaker, from an Italian family that settled in Lodi.

Lodi, where in a week I will find my way from an airport, via a rental car, back on the road for this journey, retracing the steps of the Italian immigrant.

Some people may treat you ugly
Some treat you beautiful too
That's the way life is all over
So look for the good things for you

Later that night in the City at a little eight table café, Weird Fish, with my son and his sister (ladies, visit her great fashion site, Cutiemus), we rediscovered a little wine we first had in Paris, bought from our local wine store in the 14th where our apartment was. Domaine de la Garreliere Cendrillon, a Savignon Blanc and Chenin, bio-dynamic and a fair $36. A thrilling match with the buffalo girls - seitan with buffalo sauce and veganaise and a sustainable harvested steelhead with a lemon-caper tapenade.

The next morning, Sunday, as we headed out of Sebastopol on our way to catch a plane in San Francisco that never showed up, I silently wondered if I would ever get back to the garden.

California - I'll be back there before long
I'll be back there before long
I'll be back there before long
I'll be back there before long


Marco Bufalino said...

Like father, like son. You may be already on your way back to the garden, amico. The Cevola genes really show in your son's face.

Steven said...

Great post.

BK said...

So, does this make you "The Occidental Tourist?"

Or, does that picture signify "Stick a fork in me, I'm done?"

Laurie Forster said...

Sounds like an amazing time...I love Cendrillon! It must have been anice change from all the Cab we drank!

Tracie B. said...

spittin' image, your son is!

Brian said...

Beautiful post. Thank you!

I know California has big problems, but like so many immigrants from elsewhere (Indiana), I just can't imagine living anywhere else. I can't deny the specialness of the landscapes here.

Real Time Analytics