Saturday, August 23, 2014


St. Helena, CA

Sunset and St. Helena.

As the sun dropped behind the Mayacamas Mountains, I headed southeast from my house, walking along the railroad tracks. In the late August dusk, the grapes hang heavy on the vines, the deep purple of the world's worst bruise. I take a sample, plump and dark, the grape threatening to burst under its own goodness. It erupts in my mouth, ripe juice, sweet and soft, a stark contrast to the bite of the skin, the crunch of the seeds.

Rounding the third vineyard, I reach our little local library and drop off my Fodor's guide to Northern California. As I turn back to the north, the glory of Mount St. Helena looms in the distance, backlit by the invisible sun.

I saw a report today that claimed my money buys a lot less in California than it does in other parts of the country, but I think they forgot to figure in the things money can't buy, the sweeping valley all green and gold and purple, the crisp cool air that settles in after the bright heat of the day, the thrum of promise and excitement as harvest time approaches.

The low moan of the wine train comes from the south, and I can hear the train slowly lumbering up, chugging, chugging, until it's right beside me. The conductor leans his head out the window.

"Hello," I say as he passes.

"You have a great evening!" he calls.

"You, too!" I reply.

And looking out across our beautiful valley, I think, how could we not have a great evening.

How could we not?

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