In the Light of the Dawn

The sun rises over the hills early here, in streaks of pink and blue. Sometime before 5 a.m., though I awake only as the brush strokes are fattening. A rooster crows. Really. Birds are very chatty now. The fountain cycles through itself, but then it did all the night.

Yesterday was a day of wine. For a girl from the heartland, far from the slow growth of grapes on vines and more used to the buzz of traffic and grit, it was a pleasure to listen and sip.

“If you’re here, you must stop at these wineries,” a young passionate man told me at the Torii Mor tasting room. He pulled out a map and a pen, drew lines from here to there. “Tomorrow is my day off and I’m going there,” he said to endorse.

In the morning, I had been to three wineries before noon. A giggle escapes my lips. At the Dobbes Family Estate, the lovely young woman pouring my tastings told me about the glass topped bottles that will hold the next harvest and dispelled the myth that twist-off bottles don’t by definition contain swill.

Joe Dobbes, whose name is on the label, loves making wine. “He sees it as a perfect blend of science, passion and art,” she told me.

for your hands, smooth as grapes, writes Pablo Neruda in “So That You Will Hear Me”

from “The Blind Seer of Ambon,” W.S. Merwin:

I take a shell in my hand
new to itself and to me
I feel the thinness the warmth and the cold
I listen to the water
which is the story welling up
I remember the colors and their lives
everything takes me by surprise
it is all awake in the darkness

Last night, I blew out a tiny candle on the edge of my plate of chevre cheesecake with pistachio brittle. Every exquisite bite pitted savory against the sweet of fresh Oregon blueberries macerated into a purple syrup. I almost forgot to make a wish, and when I remembered, there was nothing I wanted to wish for other than the exact feeling I had at that very moment. I ate Halibut from the Pacific off the coast of Canada, crisp atop a bed of celery-root risotto and surrounded by a brilliant moat of tangy tomato cream. The amuse bouche popped in my mouth – halibut ceviche atop a cucumber disk, thick local mushrooms giving off heat against the salty crisp of fried onion slivers.

So many flavors. Each taste on the tongue a surprise of satisfaction.

Before dinner at The Painted Lady in Newberg, I walked through the bookstore on the corner. The proprietor was whipping milk into foam at the coffee bar. So many bookstores here sell new and used titles, new and used together. I trolled up and down the aisles – there weren’t many but they were packed with spines. But there was no section of poetry, not even a single shelf.

I couldn’t contemplate buying a thing there. For without the carefully crafted words like sculpture on the page, it could not be a complete offering of thought. The bell on the door rang as it swung shut behind me.

Today I will drive to Portland. No plans, just steering the car ahead. A new place to discover, a new me to become. The sun is still climbing over the hills as I write this. The pink has deepened and now counts a layer of lavender along its canvas. What of the colors of nature? Why imitate what is real? The grapevines look yellow beneath the pine trees and I know that at the bottom of the gravel drive here, my friend the hawk is soaring in circles, screaming his independent cry.


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