Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some Wine, Not Much Italy, But Lots of Trail

This past week has taken me on another trail, lots of trail. For a week we have been out in West Texas to do some hiking in the Big Bend National Park and surrounding areas. This is Texas as the Italians love to romanticize Texas and The West, with huge vistas, wide rivers, lots of wild animals and plenty of big blue sky during the day and starry, starry skies at night. It was also very therapeutic this week, because out there the cell phones do not work. So lots of rest and respite from the civilized world.

During the last five or so years September has taken me to the wine trail in France, Portugal, Sicily, and Italy. But for some reason this year, I needed a break from Italy and wine. For one glorious week I didn’t think about whether a wine was natural enough or not (btw, the more natural the wine is the happier my headache prone skull is). I didn’t drive very much and when I did it was never over 45 mph and usually to a placer to hike for the day. I got sunburned and star burned even more, because out in the Big Bend the sky viewing is amazing. Oops, looks like I am full speed ahead into a mommy blog post. E' la nave va.

Dallas to Midland is a short one hour flight. In a car the drive to Big Bend is a lot like flying to Europe. Long. So the program was Midland via SW Air and then a rental car for the 3 hour trip to our first destination-Marfa.

Marfa is that little town in West Texas where a person like me can feel like this was a town made for people like me. Good food and wine abounds, interesting and friendly people, lots of art and the wide open sky of the romantic Texas Italians love to fantasize about.

In a little cafĂ© in Marfa, Maiya’s we set about our first night to nosh. Maiya’s is Italian-centric so there are some nice food and wines to choose from. We settled on a Pio Cesare Gavi, a 2004, that was nutty and in perfect ready-to-drink shape. I did say 2004; there must be something about the dry West Texas conditions that keep a 5 year old Italian white in shape. But anyone who has ever had an older Gavi knows that a good one can take some age.

Marfa is an artistic community centered around, but not exclusive to, the efforts of Donald Judd and his Chinati Foundation. I will be heading back to Marfa soon to do a series of wine and food dinners, hopefully with some artistic element added to it. My university background was in art and architecture with photography, film and cultural forms studies making up the curricula that I focused on. Marfa is really a place out of my American West soul. And you can find a pretty good pizza there too, in this dog loving town.

I grew up in California in the western part of the Sonora Desert (sometimes called the "Colorado Desert"). Marfa and Big Bend are part of the Chihuahua desert. So not exactly the same, but enough similarities for me to be very happy. On long walks in the Chihuahua desert this past week, I could have sworn some of the trees were brujos and of course I thought I could smell the snakes (another post, but yes, snakes do emit a unique odor). At night looking out the window I felt the pull of the billions of the galaxies and stars. One night I even think there were things other than stars that were reaching out to me. Yeah, yeah, I know, active imagination. But the world we think we see isn’t “all there is”.

What something like Big Bend and other National Parks can do for the common man like myself is to find me a place and a time where I can go to restore my equilibrium from the pressures of civilization. It’s in the wilderness that I can find my lost self.

Monday morning I head back to work, but not before having had a glorious week like I haven’t had for years. I think it was probably back in 2005 in Portugal where I was able to re-up my energy. Not saying that the work or even the urban scene of Texas is all that stressful. It isn’t like living in NY or even LA. Because Texas, for me as well, is a romantic notion or freedom and unlimited horizons, as much as it might be for the Italians I often come into contact with in the wine biz.

These next few weeks Ken Burns is screening his National Park opus on PBS. Thankfully, I have had a week to immerse into one of my favorite National Parks in America. And while it might not be as obviously beautiful as my California love, Yosemite, Big Bend is a wonderful, peaceful, dangerous, beautiful, mystical place that for a desert dweller I have managed to save a large part of my heart for.

All through the day in the saddle I sway
Visions glow as I go trail dreamin'
I see a home on a blue mountain dome
Lovingly that I made, trail dreamin'
There's a rainbow trail that's lined with stars
That leads to a gate with moonbeam bars
And it's welcome, I feel, till my visions so real
Turn to dust 'cause I'm just trail dreamin'
-Sung by Marty Robbins, lyrics by Bob Nolan

More pics of Big Bend and west Texas here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm there. I'm there. I'm there. Again. Sigh. In that photo of the bluffs (Santa Elena Canyon), btw, the left side is Mexico and the right side is the US of A, and those bluffs are 1,500 feet high. 'Don't reckon we need no fence there.

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