Saturday, August 06, 2005

Vine Times
Why, yes, I do live in Napa and, indeed, I toil in the wine industry. Been a long time since I said anything about matters of the grape. Nothing profound to offer tonight; just three quick items:
1) Tony Hendra has, rather provocatively, reviewed the new McCoy bio of Parker. Fun read.
2) My pal David Darlington writes in the Times mag about Leo McCloskey, who feeds heartily off the wine industry's assumption that Parker has vast powers. Go here for that elucidating piece.
3) Finally, tonight with grilled turkey cheeseburgers, a salad of freshly picked tomatoes, and a pile of rosemary potatoes with diced grilled red bell peppers, I enjoyed Cuvaison's 2001 Merlot Carneros. Based on many tasting experiences now, I am convinced that the region is as exciting for Merlot and Syrah as it is for Burgundian varietals.
Recently, my parents, grandmother and Auntie Margaret were over for the day. It was Margaret's first visit to the house so we took her on a tour. In the course of the tour someone pointed out a photograph, taken from the back window of Niko's room, of Niko and me on the hammock. If love could be boiled down to its pure essence, it would be this photograph:

A father and his son in the warm evening glow. Niko is reclined on top of me, his head propped up against my leg. We are facing each other and he is examining something he is holding in his hand and he is (I am sure) spinning brilliant theories about the object and its origins or use. In the photograph, the object is just barely too small to decipher. The stuff of our family life is scattered around us on the ground, brown now in early fall beneath the big oak. On the left edge of the photo there's a wading pool, empty but for a few clumps of leaves. Below, there are a couple of chairs, one wrought iron, another from an old dining-room set. There's a colorful plastic tee with the fat yellow bat nearby. There's a bunched up silver tarp, with Sammy Cat just off the edge, peering -- as he often does -- at something knowable only to him. There's also a bucket of water with one of my winemaking siphons in it. No doubt Niko had been siphoning earlier.

Looking at the photo, it occurred to me: My ex created that. One evening during our allegedly loveless marriage, she stopped what she was doing, grabbed the camera and captured that moment.

Photography is as much art as any other form. Beauty in art rarely comes by accident. And this beautiful photo, this picture of overwhelming tenderness and sweetness, was made by my ex. Could she have created it if she didn't see and feel and hold love for our lives -- for me -- in her heart? A classic technique of abandoning marriage is to revise the history; my ex wants to believe there never really was love between us. I see now where there was pain and poor communication and even meanness -- as in most human interaction. But there was love, as well. Tons of love. The evidence is everywhere, I am sure of it. Which leaves me, where, exactly? Where I was before, where I have been since this started, where I will be, it seems, for a very long time: drifting deep in sadness. Sadness for myself for what I have lost; sadness for her for the pain that drove her to destroy so much that was beautiful.