Finally some time to write. Going through pictures again in my head on the way home, thinking “I want to record the world.” Starting in the wine world and wine country and going through the pictures I already have, what I have in this camera, shots I’ve forgotten about. Small sip of the coffee I took from Emma’s school, and I’m on my way. The principal there told me after I asked, “Oh yeah… go ahead! This is for parents!” Still sounds weird, hearing me called ‘Dad’ or a ‘parent’. But that’s me, that’s my now, that’s me in this now.
Shot— me kneeling in an old Zinfandel vineyard somewhere in Dry Creek. I somewhat remember taking this last year, then don’t. I just stare at the colors. Not thinking anything specific but just looking, staring, daring myself to capture and think more. Then I realize how many people come from everywhere, all over the everywhere of our planet’s everywhere to see what I’m looking at in this shot, kneeling in front of the vineyard knowing that would change the writer’s day. At it did. The vineyard always changes me. Not sure how, but— well yes I am. Calms the writer, heals him, prepares him for his day.
The rocks around the root or base of the plants shows me odd and quirky and strangely motivating formations. Easily worth a day’s thousand, those square-like and quasi-rectangular entities. They laugh at me, wonder why I’m shooting the plant so much, why I’m spending so much time there in the vineyard with them. I inquire the like, but I don’t need an answer. The vineyard is a place of Nows, Nows that force sense from stubbornness, telling a hyper and tireless, fiery writer like me to take a moment… just take the moment for what it offers. They propel parables, all of noted note, sans farceur. I keep my knee to the damp soil, and I don’t give any kind of a care as to the print it leaves on my work clothes. This is our intersection, the vineyard’s and mine.
More coffee, and I see everything I write as a letter— This entry a letter to the this very block, and a lengthy apology as to why it took so many days and months, probably well over a year to start my translation of the image, to better appreciate her, the vine, and all around her. The fires recently also serve as a meteoric urge.. to stay in the vineyard, stay out there, photograph everything out there. Even if you go to the same block it won’t provide redundancy, ever. It’s a new character and language the next day, the next week, season, year. Looking under the collection of para-canopies, I see an electric and multi-palette’d infinity, lost in the terroir cosmos, me the staring writing who just wants more juxtaposition of my Now to the Now of the soil, leaves, rocks, irrigation lines. Soft but rhetorical, fervent red, orange, yellow breath, green whisper-talk…
The sun, dialogue of truth and humility, letting itself fall on the vines like Cheshire stares and promises. Wanting to photograph more, if not today then surely tomorrow when back at the Roth property, I’ll shoot everything. Not that I’m a pro photog’, or even photojournalist, but I see too many with cameras looking for the perfect shot, looking too much to stage and orchestrate, position, that pose. Why not just shoot, capture what’s there. Is that not what a photojournalist does, or writer or blogger even? Maybe I’m lazy, hence the knee in the Zin row, not standing walking around looking for that perfect degree of light, that marketable tint, contrast, framing, imagist envelopment. I just shoot where I am, record… recording the world means, to me, telling what I see. There is no staging, there is no ‘If I only had just a little more light…’. No. It’s truth. It’s the Now. The Now can not be prodded, or poked. I translate the Now, my Nows, the Now in that vineyard where I had to see it before staring the day— Or wait, was this shot at day’s end, in that Zin block just across the street from the Dry Creek General Store? Can’t remember now. And as I’ve intoned, it doesn’t matter.
If only I could elasticize this sitting, till 16:00-something when I have to get the little Beatniks. Coffee cold, don’t care. May need a restroom break in a bit but I’ll hold as long as I think I can… more pictures…. UGH. Why did I wait so long, with all this work just sitting here, there, rotting in my goddamn camera? That does me no good to get so irked with my ways, the past year or more, yes more, of procrastination and just shooting and in-the-drawer-shoving.
Moving eyes to the dirt, also woke by sun’s paragraphs, day’s chapter— rich and soft, formidable but delicate and rhythmic, swaying a certain axiomatic thought front through the continent of my world view. I’m in the wine world, Sonoma County, where there are post cards in distant airports to get people eager and overeager and naively excited about what’s at the end of their proximal plane ride. I’m here, right now, in this picture and this morning. No fire or firestorm or whatever that was a month ago can stop urging and surging recital like this… the vines thank me and I them eternally since we need each other in more parameters and placements and contexts than anyone could ever list.
09:45… not even an hour into the morning’s shift and I want to leave, go photograph a vineyard, somewhere, maybe Benovia as they’re not even a mile away (I don’t think…). Sure. Why not. When done editing and seeing what I just said for the last however many syllables about my vineyard collections, right there in Dry Creek, wherever in Dry Creek I was. Looking again, the frame teaches me something about my photog practices… get closer. You’re not close enough. Now I do want to go out and get some shots…. Close as I can, of bare vines, just after harvest, just after the rain we had last night and a tad this morning. Get closer, by there. Now, for a new vine’d Now. That’s what I want my babies’ DAD to do.
Have to use restroom quickly but afraid to leave laptop here in conference room. Ugh…. Feels odd not being at winery… I look at my pictures. It recounts and re-centers me. Notifications of cancelled tasting appointments popping up on my phone. Nothing I can do. Nothing I really want to do but just keep writing and hit my 3-5k target for day. Noting what I think I want to do in class… but stop. Just write, and relax, enjoy the Newness of the story— my Beat-time. Always on Beat-time, as my friend Paula used to say, says every-so-often when our paths cross, which is hardly ever anymore.
Everyone asking me about “smoke taint” and damage from smoke. Frankly, tired of being asked that. I say, embrace it, work with it— then the nihilist says, usually a winemaker, “Oh.. well.. uh.. it’s not that easy…” Yes it is. It’s in perspective. It’s in attitude, foresight. It’s what you see and how you see it. No, I’m not a winemaker and I never took bloody chemistry, ever, not in high school or college. But I know about attitude, perspective, and I’m convinced that it determines a lot more than what syllogistic approach will render.
One photo of the vineyard, blurred in background with photo taking center— autumnal shades and palette showing themselves and telling the story of what they’ve been through, how now they get to rest…. I can hear Coltrane and some of his counterparts in that vineyard block even atop what I now listen to. Can’t rise from this chair. Just want to look at pictures, pictures I took… think about all the ones I will take. Staying in the vineyard, and what I’ve captured, what I now look at and examine and write to, makes today one that shifts the story in a beneficial bravado. What I tell myself now… keep taking pictures, and write to every goddamn shot you stock. The leaves and the vineyard poles, the dirt, the cluster, the clusters that were left there, just left there to shrivel and away fade.
This one— Shot weeks before harvest. Pretty sure a Petit Verdot block that sings with even a slice of a visual visit. Musical and freeing, encouraging and prominent. More than the resulting wine. They’re more than just grapes, more than just wine, or an ag’ product— but stories. So many stories I don’t have enough life left to research them or become any kind of expert. And why would I want to be an “expert”? You don’t develop expertise with what’s in a vineyard. You establish intimacy. You establish identity. An elevated and chord-coded composition. Tourists, they see something to photograph with their phone, something to “post”, something to send to the people back home to make them jealous, intoning ‘You’re at work ha ha but look where I am!’ I don’t blame them. At all. This is ma maison, forever. It’s a character cast that defies normal physics and perceptive contact. Layered and loving.
Finally I get to sit, write. Friend from an old winery I used to work at, part-time and on-call, Arista, coming over. Recorded note while driving on Stony Point, or Marlow, on way home— “Well I’m driving and I’m stressing about what I’m going to write as soon as I sit down to write, that’s how I know when it’s not a good time to start day’s writing, jest let it go, wait and the time will come for me to sit down and start writing.” Odd mood today, and not just me, but the whole county, fires and smoke and haze from whatever fires remain.. air telling me to stay home, don’t fear any looters as so many do, just drink the night’s wine (Cab from Paso and SB from NZ). More notes than I know what to do with on past wines. Still have to edit Hitching Post piece, the blend I pulled from the shelf… where was I? Can’t remember, think El Dorado Hills with wife and kids, little time I had to self and went to store to get night’s writing assignment. All offerings tasting different, post-fire. Jesse bringing over a Dutcher Crossing Carignane, ’15, last night and the tune was contrasting what I associate with the winery, wine type, vintage, AVA, everything. Not that my senses are damaged— I mean, at least I hope not— but there was a morphing of something in me, or wine, or my interpretive lens. Can just hear the wines for tonight over there by the knives and drying glasses, cleaning utensil (the one with the hard, pointy, painful bristles, pink and white), and bowl I had the cashews and almonds in for Jesse and I last night.
Had a meeting earlier with a wine blogger/startup buddy, but interrupted by false alarm of looters on our street. I rush out of his office and into my car and here to Coffey Park… nothing. No looters. Yes, police, obvious presence to deter looters, post-fuego, but no threat. So, out of breath, still, I try to collect. And I don’t want these goddamn fires to dominate my 3,000 words for day. No, not happening. Not sure where Kevin is, my Arista friend. Hope I didn’t scare him off, texting him “My neighbors will shoot you before the guard does.” After he asked if he’d get stopped by the Nat’l G’s. Hope he knew I was joking.
Went by winery today.. still closed, but wanted to check on production crew. I could tell they were busy and not at all interested in conversation so I backed off, took one picture, and left. Not sure when we’re opening back up, but it doesn’t matter. MY wine business continues, and my wined notes and jots, inward and outward persist. Wine… should open that NZ SB. Have a burrito from Oliver’s for dinner, will pair that with Cab. Not really a wine-food pairing centered and/or intentioned guy, I’ve noticed. I mean, I try, but I think that any wine goes with any food… well, for the most part I guess. I have a grilled chicken burrito, and I’m paining it with a Cabernet. I’m CERTAIN I’ll enjoy it. Why wouldn’t I? I guess if the burrito or the wine is irreparably flawed then yeah, it won’t be one for the books. But wine and food-pairing is a convenient “science”, at best.
Poured first pulse of SB, just before Kevin arrived. He’s now left, 18:53, he and I recalling days at Arista and career moved, and all involved. Now into the Paso Cabernet, not yet heating up burrito, wanting to see 1,000 wine words here in kitchen at counter— K and I talking about discrepancies in the wine industry with motivating staff to sell— Why not pay them more or “incentivize” as they always say? So many of the wine industry’s problems are easily solvable, I see and the words exchanged with K tonight cemented such. Sb showing much more harmony and music and over smile than the one I had the other night. I type without looking at keys, in fact looking around the room I’m in, the kitchen, into the living room and thinking about winemakers like John whom I saw today not he crush pad trying to function some machine to press whatever he was pressing— I’m guessing Cabernet… and me sipping this Cabernet and reminded there’s so much more story in the bottle than the consumer realizes. I’m not anti-consumer… I’m the consummate consumer. BUT, there need be more awareness of wine and it’s the winery’s job to do that. So ME, as a “manager” of a property, I need to tell the Roth story. Meeting on Wednesday, and I’m going to barrage the council with a vision.. I will be mimicked, copied. I’m not bragging, just confident, eager, willing and creative, able. Not sure what this is meant to state or assert but I’m in my house with radiant wines… and I have a house. I HAVE A HOUSE. I’m guilty, I feel guilty, I’m crippled in guilt and I can only drink more wine and write. Wine is speaking to me now. Before I opened the SB, before Kevin got here.
Finally, I’m sitting, and writing. After this first thousand, I’m set to heat the burrito. See how it “pairs” with the Paso Cab. No music in the house, now, which is rare for me, if ever the reality.. the Cab now telling me to turn on music and heat up that burrito and get to real work.. ‘wine and food pairing’. Part of me’s like ‘who cares’ but then the other parcel is partial to my perspective of ‘write about it’… okay.. Paso Cab with a burrito of grilled chicken… yeah, I’m sure it’ll be amazing, what do you want me to say? I see a little left of the Cab, in my glass… sipped…. alc’ is more visible than I remember. But there’s a stark vile and leather, smoke-set sinew to its physical palate presence. I’m reminded of that morning, eight days ago… and I’m here, in my house, sitting, writing, sipping wine. Something feels wrong.
Not much ground covered on this walk. And I didn’t have to. Everything was meant to be shot. The water and the mud, tilled rows and the fading leaves. All for me on my walk, and differently more intense on this walk than on the others. This little tendril, posing for me with its leaf backdrop. At first I thought nothing of, then I stopped. Shot. Two, three. The wind push the can back and forth and I stopped it with my one free hand (left). It’s obvious to me it wanted its own picture, place in my photo journal. So…