Sunday, August 09, 2020

Taking one's place along the river

“All we are not stares back at what we are.” - W.H. Auden

What are we looking for? Whether it is in a vineyard or a desert? In a lover or in the mirror? On the road or self-quarantined? What do we expect to find? What has been lost? Where is this all leading to?

You’re staring at a TV screen for months and the story is laced with fear and woe. The next day, you’re sitting behind a windshield, and the landscape of the great American West is cascading by you at 60-70-80 miles per hour. Inescapable though, is the hope that “the crisis” is far away. The land, the great healer, is now weaving the tales, and it is long, and hot, but endurable. I say this with gratitude, that one can witness this other side of the world we live in.

That couldn’t always be said for how we encountered this land, 200-100-50 years ago. I drove through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, in the span of one day. Now, all I have to do is get to Oregon.

It’s a strange rhythm that invades my little ecosystem in the car. After three days, and over 2,300 miles, it begins to feel like one is in another reality. Driving through the states I drove through, there was this intensified energy, like I’ve felt nowhere else on earth.

Growing up on the west coast, there is an inexorable gravitational pull from the coastline. Maybe the present moment doesn’t provide the best juncture for a breather. Nonetheless, it’s happening.

Although Oregon isn’t the final destination on this journey, it is a short layover. After driving three long days, through mostly desert, the lakes, rivers, forests and mountains of Oregon will provide a cooler breathing space.The sound of the road relieved by the sound of the river.

It was as if, while on the road, the problems that bombard us on the screens weren’t there. But they didn’t really go away, did they?

That is one of the questions that comes to the surface, as I put the car in park and pull over for the day.

I opened a bottle of wine, while the river below bubbled and swirled. Rosabella it was called, and it was both rosé and beautiful, as the Italian name connotes. The wine was slightly petillant with a mid-summer’s blush. It tasted like a peach, was all I wanted in a bottle of wine, or, from a summer day. It was drinking marvelously right now. It had that perfect blush peach color with aromas of fresh berries. The flavors, dry and crisp, but in its youthful stage, were vibrant and vivacious. A perfect drink for the moment.

The full moon of Oregon’s July was waning, but still burned bright in the western sky. The nearby river was churning, with the Cutthroat trout in the last throes of procreation on the shallow beds of gravel at the river bottom. Unlike their cousins, the Pacific salmon, they do not die after they spawn. Lucky them. They’ll have another go at it, next year. Will we?

Calmness, comfort and communion with the nature all around me. I drove to find this, not knowing I was looking for it. Often, I would find this, in the past, in Italy. In a meal, in the sharing of a bottle of wine, in the rapport of friendship and community. But now, on a smaller, more intimate scale. Just that which is presented before me, Nature in all her grand efflorescence.

I slept as if dead to the outside world. It was curative and invigorating. I was ready to take on the day. Again, not knowing what to look for. But to make the stab, one more time. What funny creatures we humans be.

Now, Italy has receded into the rear-view mirror of the past. The Italy I know faded away as soon as I saw it. The endless files of photographs from the past attest to a place that once existed. Now, only in our memories and in the old films of the time. I’ve been watching a lot of them, trying to reconnect with the Italy I fell in love with.

But when something dies, do you stop loving it? Or, do you stop loving the living? The wine we drank last year is gone. The wine in the cellar awaits. That is the Italy that, even though it will never be the same, I will love it as it presents itself to me in all its guises and contours.

“Love each other or perish” - W.H.Auden

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Marco said...

After watching L'Avventura last week or the week before, I learned that Monica Vitti was friends with Andrea Camilleri who provided the Sicilian dialect translations.

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