Sunrise over the Vineyards

Like chalk strokes the fog rolls in. Hills undulate and swell, their careful rows of grapevines delicate in the morning dew. Outside my window, a fountain plays its music, soothing to the tune of the dawn.

You go where the path leads, writes Annie Dillard in The Writing Life. The new place interests you because it is not clear.

What has a necessary quality, I wonder? The din of Tina’s restaurant along highway 99W, a low rumble like a cat purring. An oval of good hard sourdough, tangy with salt and ferment.

This is bliss. A slow glass of pinot gris, a white cloth on my table. A bite of fragrant soft garlic. Artichokes braised in salt and butter, arcs of lemon long-cooked, small specks of salt, the juices running down my fingers.

Last night, I slept like I had never slept before, the bed piled in down and pillows, a window cracked to let in the night. Soon, coffee, and then, ocean.

On Sunday, still home, I walked in the woods with my children. “Close your eyes,” I told them. “You can smell the forest more.”

The tops of the trees swayed like fingers reaching. We were quiet in the cover of the woods. I carried the baby.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard again. There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.

Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment. Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles, bad and good. Every year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad stack. He turned to the young man: “You submit this same landscape every year, and every year I put it on the bad stack. Why do you like it so much?” The young photographer said, “Because I had to climb a mountain to get it.”


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