Tuesday, June 25, 2013

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” ― Dom Perignon

Making champagne at RainSong Vineyard.....

...where champagne is drunk once the sun has sunk and the season of summer is alive in spicy bloom"  - Roman Payne

Last Fall at RainSong Vineyard the hills were cloaked in golden finery as the vines gave up their grapes for the harvest...


Every season hath its pleasures,
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vinyard's ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn's sob'rer time.”

Thomas Moore

The skilled harvesters of Oregon's wine country know how to cull these ruby treasures - the precious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes come into the winery where the wine-master begins to prepare for the magical conversion to the heady pleasures of wine.  Into the barrels go the harvest to rest and dream and while away the cold winter days.....

Fast forward to June and now Summer begins to assert herself.  This week, on a hot afternoon in the Willamette Valley just north of Eugene, the crew is getting everything in order for the intense process of bottling up last year's harvest and is working up quite a thirst....so, it is time to bring out the beer, for, as they say at RainSong, "It takes a lot of beer to make champagne!"......

With the crew sufficiently hydrated we begin the process....first the sparkling wine bottles need caps that secure the wine during the fermentation in the bottle.....June 2013 will be a very good date.....

Next, the bottles are staged at the filler....a beer at the ready....

Then, they are moved to the filler station....

.....where six at a time are filled rapidly.  The station attendant has to look sharp and pull the bottles quickly or risk spilling the wine...

....on to the plugging, a temporary plastic cork is inserted....

...then the bottle is sealed with the temporary dated caps.....

...and carefully placed in storage as the fermentation begins......

....approximately 1380 bottles were processed that afternoon.  Here they rest until the wine-master considers them ready for the riddling rack...

.....where the sediment is observed and each bottle is carefully and lovingly turned by hand, before the temporary plastic cork is removed, and they are sealed and ready to consume......

Now the crew is ready to take a break and enjoy some of last year's vintage served up by Marcus, the wine-master.....

As the afternoon glow settles upon the weary but satisfied crew we enjoy the Summer's spicy bloom in each of our champagne flutes. Meanwhile, high up on the hill, the grapes are drenched in the setting sun, slowly swelling and preparing themselves for another Autumn harvest......

(Blogger's note: We have been very lucky to have made friendships with Mike and Merry, Marcus and Allie, and all of the great people at RainSong Vineyard. I hope that you have enjoyed this little slice of life from their piece of paradise in the Cheshire Hills of Oregon...here is a link to their webpage if you would like to learn more http://rainsongvineyard.com/ )


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Instead of To Be Or Not To Be...how about, simply, To Be a Bee?

While thinking deep thoughts...one could easily miss the lovely details that rest on the surface of things, or that float by us, going about their daily habits....

Take the bee, for instance.....first a poem...

Bees and Morning Glories

Morning glories, pale as a mist drying,
fade from the heat of the day, but already
hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg
hooks have found and are boarding them.

This could do for the sack of the imaginary
fleet. The raiders loot the galleons even as they
one by one vanish and leave still real
only what has been snatched out of the spell.

I've never seen bees more purposeful except
when the hive is threatened. They know
the good of it must be grabbed and hauled
before the whole feast wisps off.

They swarm in light and, fast, dive in,
then drone out, slow, their pantaloons heavy
with gold and sunlight. The line of them,
like thin smoke, wafts over the hedge.

And back again to find the fleet gone.
Well, they got this day's good of it. Off
they cruise to what stays open longer.
Nothing green gives honey. And by now

you'd have to look twice to see more than green
where all those white sails trembled
when the world was misty and open
and the prize was there to be taken.

It turns out, that bees do have consciousness, so says the latest science.  Well, poets have told us this, there is nothing new here.  But, science can now confirm it according to the latest research on mapping the workings of the brain at the neuronal level...Science Friday on Decoding the Most Complex Object in the Universe.
From Ray Bradbury's lovely book Dandelion Wine, which celebrated the magic in the everyday comes this thought...perhaps bees also have a scent...
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Here are photos of bees hard at work last summer....I wonder what they were thinking on that day as they lined up to dive into the heady sensuousness of the garden of delight that the artichoke blossom offered?  Oh, to be a bee!

Artichoke blossom

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ponderings on the approach of the Summer Solstice....

"The days might seem long, but the years are short"

Gretchen Rubin - author of The Happiness Project

I've been thinking a lot about the paradoxes of life, how contradictions come together and startle us with the small quiet truths that reveal to us what it means to be here.  I'm reading a bit about the Buddhist concept of being in the "now".  I'm still not sure that I get it yet, but when I am in the garden, I feel that I am very close to understanding what I need to know. The summer solstice approaches and it has always meant something to me - resonating in a way that feels more like a part of my DNA than of memory.  Perhaps it is because it seems to represent one of the ultimate paradoxes of life....the beginning is the end.  

On a different but slightly related subject:  The moments when I tend to "get" this, I can only describe as inspiring a feeling of awe - a chill, or a sudden welling up of tears.  Great music, a sublime piece of art - it is connected with inspiration and also with the recognition of the creative process at work.  I've often thought of this experience as being in the presence of pure truth.