Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rummaging Around the Wine Trail

I’m obsessed with cameras. I keep looking for the one that will help me solve the little puzzles that are put before me. With a camera, I can capture a moment, 1/100th of a second, take it home and give it a real long look. I can take memories into custody, run my fingers past them, go over them one more time- the Christmas dinner 30 years ago, the wine tasting 30 days ago, the meal 30 minutes ago. All to myself. No explaining to the skeptics, the all-inclusive faithful ones, truth be damned. Inside-out turned within, to gaze upon, to savor, to be free from the master and the misanthrope. My own little world, even if it is just rummaging around other folks debris.

Why the camera? For the moments we never seem to remember. So many of us are hustling about for the next great wine, the best little hilltop village in Southern Italy, the prettiest gal at the dance, that those little details escape our gaze. We are looking for something. And in the ensuing hunt, we miss out on the stuff of life.

So it has been lately in all manner of things. Folks wanting me to tell there where to go in Italy, what to see, where to eat, whose wine to go taste. If they only knew what I did, the very first time, and now, if only I could, is much simpler than that. In fact, I can seldom go out into my Italy and wander, just walk down the road and see what shows up.

As a street photographer, it was by wandering that I would find my best shots. A little boy among the shadows of the ruins in Sicily. A little girl, barefoot in front of the house her little brother was born in. A young lady, whose boyfriend had just escaped from prison and was on his way back to pick up his heroin. A woman in her kitchen, arms outstretched, thanking the Lord for the food she had just prepared with so much love and paprika.

So this is what it has come to. No formulas. No advanced testing. No answers. Just the dusty, open unknown. Ah, to have that Italy back in front of me, just for a day or two. With a camera and a charged battery and empty memory card or two. Bliss.

The wine trail in Italy isn’t in Italy and it isn’t about wine, dear Ron. But you already knew that. But the trail, the pursuit, it still calls me, in cold or searing heat. By the water or in the jungle. With scads of people or on an island that has been deserted by all but the hardiest of souls. No wines to taste, to find that 95 pointer to make my day. If I’m lucky, I might find a little cantine with a good wine to put in my 1 liter bottle. Something simple. Something refreshing. Something with the life pulsing through the sluice – a gateway for the liquid life as a camera is for the visual. That is my joy. Not pressing some asinine list of wines that very few of us will ever taste.

Like music, wine and the visual are an ephemeral pleasure, not a chore. Not a cause for endless debate and hostile gibes.

My little camera can be stubborn, but interested in what is before us. We may not always capture the decisive moments, but the journey with my little camera is so very rewarding.

It makes the occasional off moment seem like 1/2000th of a second, barely perceptible. And opens up the vista to wonderful food, wine and people who share the same passion for life that my little camera is ever so set on deciphering.

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