Fire on the Vines
North of the ruddy Golden Gate, past the scruffy, hunched and sea-battered shoulders of Marin where the great, breaking swells of turbulent land sink back into the California dirt and roll gently inland towards the flat and sleeping heartland of America, lies the Russian River valley. Along her banks, on hill and arbor, sprout the veins of Dionysus, knurled tendrils from the stony heart of California. Spring brings the lancet and draws his fiery blood to clot in shade. The fall brings the barber to harvest a flame that licks leaves to amber. That conflagration lies now in pendulous, swollen oak bellies, not extinguished but slumbering on the lees in long, dark granite corridors beneath the Earth, undisturbed but for the vinter's thief and the rapping of spiders' legs.
Though the fire still leaps from the vines, it is short-lived. Frosts from the gullies are nightly climbing the hills. The cold turns yellow to red, turns red to brown, and casts all, dead, into the furrow. A mirror to our mood, the road curves and meanders through the hills, as if to stay a bit longer in such bucolic surroundings and soak in wine.
To kindle affection in cold months
Now for the winter months, the late dawns and early dusks, now for the rainy months and the damp nights indoors. Out from northern California march Cabernet, Sauvignon, Pinot and Syrah, the wine god's minions in biers of thick, green glass. The sun departed, our road home was long and dark like the months ahead; in the trunk, however, a few bottles of cheer to kindle our spirits, to warm the table and to turn our blood to wine.