Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Change of Season Trip

"Out where your troubles can't find you
Out where you leave ‘em all behind
Out where the moon shines sweetly
Won't you meet me down on the county line”

(Sugarland: County Line)

I take a trip every year, as a rite of passage… For the past two years, it’s been to the wine festival at Smith Mountain Lake, in the heart of Franklin County, VA – Moonshine Capital of the World. Before that, it was Villa Appalaccia, a winery also in VA, on the Blueridge Parkway – for an olive and wine festival.

This journey is so welcome: at the end of a busy year, and typically a busy summer, I need something to put the breaks on, and get me ready for the slow pace of winter, where I’ll have no purpose, other than to exist and eat plenty of warm and home made food. And nothing works better than views of mountains, fall coming, leaves turning, mums in the front yards, the taste of new wine, and chilling over a bottle of gossip with dear friends, in the crisp mountain air. The stillness of the mountains, and the closeness to the wine making process, which is patient, and slow, and artful, become intoxicating and transfer into life itself!

Up there, in the mountains, where time stands still, and moonshine is smooth and plenty, and wine is sweet and clear, where people talk slow and hurry for naught, where old houses smell like rotting wood, and kitchens smell like fried thick cut bacon and fresh biscuits in the morning, you get lost. They can ask you your name and you don’t even remember that! And it’s all a good thing!

This year’s wine fest was wanting to be a big wash out: there was rain, rain and more rain in the forecast. But we would not have it. Rain coats, umbrellas, and all, we went to the middle of the pasture, anyway! We sampled wine, with umbrellas in one hand, and cameras in the other! We sampled home made cakes and dips, and the overwhelming mud puddles were not going to put a damper into our day! It’s the company and the attitude that carries you through, and that was the case for us!

Muddy and wet, happy, and buzzed, we went through the day in glee and silliness!

24 hours of that kind of escape feels like a 2 week vacation in the Caribbean! (without the stress over the overpriced umbrella drinks!). You wander about on country roads, and your friends drive recklessly, because they can, and because they’re free, and because the cops are at the wine festival and don’t care. And after all, you’re in the middle of nowhere, so there are no laws! You can be a kid again and let loose. For one day, you’re as free as the clouds wandering on the peaks. As free as the wine pouring into barrels – unbounded!

Your only worry is only “my glass is empty. Someone, please, pay attention!”.

It’s also a time when I reconnect with friends and find out they’re still there for me! Just like the harvest time, when we’re all grateful to the Earth for giving us the food, in the fall, I am also grateful for the friends! After we have all attended to family affairs all year long, and to too much work, we’ve finally slowed down enough to meet and give all of us a break!

I am so grateful for those friends! And for their gift of welcoming me, and making my yearly retreat ever so welcome! Don’t ever change!! Or move …

Thank you!

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