Tag Archives: charlottesville

It is Good

13 Aug

We will not let hate win


It is good.
It is good to see and to be seen.
It is good to hold and to be held.
It is good, this heart like a low long river
washing the soul clean to its raw lining
like the side of quivering fish.
It is good to feel the promise in cleanness,
in the sting of what was.
In every broken bit there is one conscious atom
beginning to pull toward the mending line.
It is good to cry, to wet the shoulder, the hand, the sleeve,
let it travel out to salt sea
where the elephantine roll of the darkdeep unknown
will toss it’s misted curl to the sky
and dissolve itself into stillness.
It is behind your eyes, this close fearlove
I kiss your cheek.
You kiss mine.
Both are wet with ocean.
And it is good.


20 Jan



“People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they’re looking for…”

“They don’t find it,” I answered.

“And yet what they’re looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water…”

“Of course,” I answered.

And the little prince added, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

A bowl of Thai soup steams beneath me on a Sunday afternoon after dance. My companion is seated opposite me, someone I’m trying to “be” with. I have a strong emotional connection to him, the depth of which is not reciprocated. Quickly, I am learning with every moment spent, simply being present and enjoying “the now” is quite different from love, even companionate love. I thought I could do it…the just enjoying what “is” when someone isn’t willing or ready for a deeper connection. I’m realizing, though, looking into that soup that there are no rules about relationships. No should, no shouldn’ts. Only behaviors and situations that do or do not fit a person. And the behaviors that have evolved between this person and I in the last four months are more detrimental to my well- being than healing.

“I’m thinking about ending my blog”, I say tentatively. “I don’t do the alone thing by choice anymore; I want my life to be different. . . .it’s already different. I’ve changed.”

“Why end it?” he says. “Just stop posting.”

“But I can’t. That’s like just stopping texting someone without saying a goodbye.”

I don’t reply further, but what I am thinking is  “That just means you’re too chicken shit to say. ‘Gee, I find I don’t really want to communicate with you anymore, or I don’t really have anything left to say.’ So you wimp out and say nothing, thinking to yourself, ‘Maybe someday I’ll want to talk to that person again…maybe he or she will be different. Maybe I’ll need something from him or her. No need to shut a door and create bad feelings. Just let it just ‘be’.”

But it eventually ends doesn’t it? Unless it’s Mercury Retrograde when everybody goes back to something or someone they forgot to say goodbye to. The planet turns back and doubts rise as to whether it’s still standing just inside the open back door, expectant and smiling. Why end something when there is still some basic goodness there?

I stare into my soup, and it suddenly becomes clear to me. And hours later, sitting and listening to music with him unable to show or express what I really feel, all of the dynamic became clear. His constant checking in for a loitering loose hope is the height of selfishness.

The open end.

The open relationship.

The freedom to love whomever, whenever . . .and be grateful they might be happy with someone else and sometimes you, too. Because you “love” them unconditionally.

The “its all LOVE, really, non attachment” bullshit.

It’s fucking selfishness.

Yes, I said fuck on my blog. I ought to have said it more often just as punctuation.

Fuck. There. I said it again.

“I want the person I’m with to feel completely free…. I want to be totally 100% present with everyone I’m with and embrace the moment for what it is fully, but not be entangled.” What this actually means is “I need your attention to boost my ego, as well as many others to do so as well, so I’ll untie our connection every time and let it lie, hoping you will stay there…hoping.”


And yes, we all trawl for stroking to some degree. But I don’t think many people are really so conscious about how the other person in the equation feels about always filling the net.

We all make excuses about why other people don’t fit us. But honestly the true reasons lie within ourselves. It’s not them…it’s never them.

It’s really us.

But we rarely ever tell them why or let them go because we rarely look inward enough to find the real reason inside our own psyches.

I often think closing doors are necessary. It keeps out the cold. It lessens the darkness of absence. It shrinks the feeling that somehow you’ve abandoned yourself by leaving it open indefinitely, waiting to see if a light is coming down the path. Sometimes, giving up hope is the most healing thing you can do for yourself.

So many people seem to have embraced this idea of “the casual relationship”. Not casual dating, which is entirely different. That’s when you spend time with someone, getting to know them in order to figure out whether you want a relationship with them. But a casual relationship? I don’t get it. How do you have a relationship with someone that doesn’t move into emotional attachment? It’s a normal healthy biological thing to attach to someone when you are emotionally intimate and have loving feelings. Babies are built to do it automatically. It’s not neurotic to want to be in an intimate connection with one person and vice versa after a process of sharing and spending time. It doesn’t mean you will never dis-attach, but it does mean that you don’t just ebb in and out like the tide in different lagoons. Being able to drift in and out of connection with someone, even to the point of having intimate physical relations without attaching to them emotionally beyond the moment and to do this indefinitely doesn’t make you some sort of guru…some sort of spiritually enlightened consciousness . What it makes you is a selfish being who has very little love for him or herself. And you can’t truly love someone if you are like that. Love is of the soul and it’s sacred. This goes beyond “religion”.

And selfish people are hard to love. So little love…real love …comes out of them.

Love is not just caring or presence or ephemeral connection meted out in compartmentalized hours. It isn’t just smelling the rose and then walking into another garden to smell the violets, too. Love does have conditions. They are called personal boundaries because loving oneself must come first and it creates the conditions. After all, the rose has its desires, too.

Love doesn’t mean staying with someone who can only give when they choose or under certain optimal instances. Unconditional love for someone doesn’t include losing your dignity. It doesn’t mean ceasing to give to the self in order to serve that portion to others to the point where there is nothing left. Love is abiding, deep and fueled by the abundance of love one has from within. When people have very little self love, they cannot afford to attach to someone, because a requirement of loving attachment is deep giving, often… and without really desiring to do so sometimes. Of course a conscious partner is mindful that he or she cannot take indefinitely, that a beloved’s selfless giving is draining and the mutual and reciprocal nature of love seeks to give back always. It is a dance…not a fucking piggy back ride.

So the casual drifter, the “being in the moment” presence, that doesn’t really require much. It may be  “progressive” and “hip”, but it’s a signal to me that there isn’t much in there to be given. It’s a signal that the type of love I seek, love which mirrors the Divine, doesn’t much dwell there. Now, its lack of presence in a person isn’t good nor bad…it just is. And if I have to be sad about figuring that out…so be it. But at least, I know it when I don’t see it.

And I’ll admit to my own selfishness. I’m not a saint, by any means. This blog space is like someone you go back to, time and again. The “hey, I’ve been thinking about you text” that comes after three months of silence when the last thing you sent was a smiley face. And if one looks at the body of this work as a unified whole, it actually wouldn’t be a fully accurate depiction of my life in the last four years. Is it a fault that I never take time to write in this way about the many happy moments I’ve had? Maybe it is. Do I feel guilty that I’ve gotten lazy and drop my low moments here while savoring my high ones for the telling at lunchtime chats and for my friends and students? Probably. Which is why I hesitate to let others I actually know read these posts. Is it a fault that when I find myself alone and needing an ear, I turn here, to the back door of the house, imagining there is someone standing there with an understanding look and a “There, there. Don’t worry. It’s all going to turn out wonderfully; you’ll see”. Maybe there is something to learn from the casual relationship, the one you only go to when you have little to spend and know you’ll get a discount. And perhaps this is showing me a personal fault on which I need to place my own consciousness.

Real writing and real creativity takes commitment. And maybe that is what I need to find and muster rather than a relationship right now. What really am I committed to?

Do I want to be a published writer? I have no idea. I don’t dream of accolade or money.

Do I want to be an exhibited artist; yes…probably.

Do I want to learn flamenco dancing and perform? Yes, know so.

Do I want a different job, one that inspires me again? Yes, but I have no idea what that might be and I have no funds to buy the hoop that would qualify me to pursue it.

But looking at the soup tells me, maybe deeply loving others is about learning as many ways as possible to show it, starting with myself first. Some soup is not better the second time. Some soup…only I can appreciate.

I have a discarded book of Durer prints and a half finished art piece at present.

I have a DVD, a beloved friend with a guitar, and red nailed flamenco shoes.

I have this blog, and a heart full of words…and you, standing in the back door for whom I do have deep gratitude. Even if you are imaginary.

I promise.

When it is time to say goodbye. . .we’ll both know it.

Or maybe we’ll just stay.

And dance.





5 Feb

Down the dim hallway toward the dance studio I trod, a chubby six year old in black leotard and tights. At the time, I had no consciousness of my body other than a vague unease. There were foods I wasn’t allowed to eat. There were clothes that didn’t fit. There were rules. My mother’s hovering and persistent directive, “Suck in your stomach”, taught me that something was not right about my body. Being “me” was not okay, in a body that was not right and which certainly didn’t belong to me but to her. At six years old, I understood these precepts intuitively, under the landscape of my growing mind. Over the years that followed to self-consciousness, rejection of the body as it was, through each stage, was the norm. My mother obviously despised her own physicality and attempting to control my body was a way to control and calm feelings about her own body- hatred.

But I was only six. I was just. . . . me.

Miss Mona’s School of Dance was a long respected dance establishment in Roanoke and every Thursday at 6 pm I’d put on my black leotard, black tights and those small leather slippers that weren’t the shoes I’d read about in the library book from school, the red ones with the laces and hard toes like small hard cups wrapped in satin. I would gaze at the portraits of the ballerinas in the plate glass window at Miss Mona’s, their long arms and long legs lifted in grace and arching white. Tiny pointed pink feet, ankles bound in ribbons, short flowing dresses or fluffy sparkling tutus. The curve of their thighs in arabesque were like the edges of a taught bow, their arms like giant wings trailing dark feathers of space like ravens against the deep summer sky. Ballerinas were “big girls”, 12 maybe 13. It seemed to me then that becoming a ballerina was what happened when one grew up and in some instinctive way I suppose it came to symbolize a right of passage. The becoming of a woman meant donning hard toed shoes and launching into open flight.

I can remember the piano at Miss Mona’s like a hundred hammers on bells, the clanging refrain as I walked across a smooth wooden dance floor toward a small group of girls. Lyrical line after line of “Meet Me in St Louis. . .Louis” was the only unifying cadence within the wild clackety clacks, squeals and laughter from the room hidden from view of the barre. Behind the blue accordion partition, staccato smacks peppered with laughter rolled over the quiet of the ballet room. That day I stood in barre class with other tinier girls, their leotards bunching at their little bums, tights folding in creases at their knees. So small their ballet clothes lay about them like skin on a baby elephant. But mine were tight…stretched, like a seal’s skin ready to burst.

I didn’t know. I was just. . . .me.

But Miss Mona, the ginger haired matriarch of the barre awakened me. She stood, leaning heavily on her cane as she eyed me from the sideline. “You are too big to be a ballerina. We need to talk about tap class for you.” Listening to the girls next door, the class I eventually attended rather than ballet, I can’t recall feeling anything. No sadness or disappointment. I accepted the judgment of adults as Truth. It just was.

Too big to be a ballerina.

Too big.

When Miss Mona died in 2006, my mother gave me her obituary from the newspaper and I carried it in my wallet for nearly three years for no other reason, but that I just couldn’t bring myself to remove it.

I loved her.
I hated her.
This woman who was the mistress of the barre, of sublime body perfection.

This woman who owned the secrets of flight.

They say the body has its own tale to tell. That memories begin to store in our very cells from before we are born. Muscle and cell memory, the body is a complex consciousness all its own. It operates beyond our control in tandem with the environment without much need for a pilot. And in over many years, I have worked to own this frame of mine, to claim it, to come to love it, to treat it with compassion. This journey in part has been about transforming the outer strength I built early on into inner strength of mind and spirit. And so it is no surprise to me that inner expression, which first began in the written voice of Beloved, moved into art and now finally into dance. As I look back, many times in which I connected to music, I danced into my higher self. No one dancing with me…. a joyful moving meditative prayer to the Universe.

During Lenten traveling this past spring, I stumbled upon a unique dance group in Charlottesville. The 5Rhythms method created by Gabrielle Roth offers expression and healing, spiritual enlightenment and oneness through free form dance. Conscious dancers move to patterns of music designed in “waves”, each one making a unique musical narrative arch. The invitation for the dancer is to move in the body’s unique voice to express the inner drama. It allows the body to tell its story and to be “seen” and from that revealing to be “heard”. But heard by the conscious self. The narrative is experienced as a separate voice. What story is my body telling, this alien thing my consciousness rides around in? That question has been pressing me. . .hard. In yoga class, every posture which opens the heart or my hips has been intensely uncomfortable in more ways than the physical. I’m very fit, but my flexibility has reached a limit. I rise daily feeling like a living rug burn. The muscles refuse to listen, so I decided I had to learn to hear them instead. I have to learn how to listen to my own body’s story. And it has volumes to tell.

A week ago, as a part of the 21 Days of Love, I attended my first conscious dance session. Feeling quite uneasy, I entered the Fry Spring Beach Club in Charlottesville and immediately tensed from the interior cold. The heat is low in preparation for ninety minutes of constant movement. Reluctantly, I peeled off layer upon layer, like the years that have passed since the days of Miss Mona’s studio. I felt shy, intensely awkward. . .for the first time in many years. However, stepping out into the low lights, I became quickly aware of the sacred safety of this environment. All come here to engage in healing or enlightenment. It isn’t a competition or a show. One can remain alone or engage with others; there is total freedom from judgment. The invitation is to connect to the rhythms of the musical wave, and let the body sing.


Standing, arms folded against the cold on the edge of the great ballroom floor, my first moves were spontaneous: the positions.

First …slide to second. Third, my favorite…and then a slide out to fourth.

Not brave enough for fifth yet and feeling pretentious, I began simple stretches and to slide a bit. But, a surprise ronde de jambe became the introduction to the next ninety minutes. One must be barefoot for grounding, and by the time I left the studio, I had danced blood blisters onto the bottoms of my toes. From the outside, an onlooker might think we had all taken mind altering drugs and were moving through whatever state of consciousness a psychotropic substance had awakened. (Basically, a bunch of “New Agey” white folk flailing about in semi rhythmic abandon.) But, my body voice is passionate and emotive, despite its intense fear of turning inward and completely letting go in front of absolute strangers. I found a bent bow within me that came absolutely and powerfully unstrung, so much so that I injured a leg muscle pretty severely. Balance, I learned has more than one meaning in this case. The musical pieces, which comprised the beginning of the first wave, elicited a wall of palpable energy from me. Brick on brick, a perimeter of stone was laid around my raw self and then at the wave’s height, behind it, I became bare to the core.

My unique personal narrative erupted into verse and refrain, singing as easy as breathing. My mind cannot structure it; I struggle now to find words to even describe. Sense memory returns to the ballet room, the movements somehow executed effortlessly in my current physical state. For now, I am tall and lean. . .strong. But the body also remembers other pages …

of curiosity…

of ambiguity…

of love…

of sex…

of joy…

of grief and loss

of the Infinite.

Dancing what I never knew existed within me, one song pushed forth scratching and clawing into the air in rhythmic anger like a tigress. Lost within another pulsing refrain my wrists twined, wrapped in memories of a lost love. A waltz took me into a ballroom many years ago where I learned to trust enough to let a beloved lead. At the denouement of another song, my shoulders reversed to cover my heart, chin brushing the bareness of my shoulders, as if I held myself in my own arms. At one point I was a tightrope walker, balancing the invisible wire of change. And I wanted to leap from it and soar. The desire for balance evaporated in the furnace of inner fire. . .only in movement could the enormity of my emotion be set free.

A story doesn’t makes it path known until the soles meet the smoothness of the floor, but then the frame bends and fluctuates like the pines in the winter wind. A whole memoir of the body is sorted into tales and in the telling, an awareness comes of being lit inward like a tiny candle. We live inside our rational consciousness for so long, seeing our bodies separate from our self concepts. The reflective surface of culture encourages us to tell ourselves a body “truth”, but the authentic story within is already there. And this body, which is tinier than our souls must be carried by it, so we must come to love it, this instrument of our earthly being.

This type of dancing reduces me to my most surrendered point…the point of birth…the point of fear ..the point of allowing…the point of joy…the oneness that is at heart of all. It is the fullest expression of intimacy with the higher self that I have found. I understand Rumi so much more now, his whirling and whirling into oneness of the Divine.

I left the session spent, an exorcism of the past danced out in a dimly lit ballroom in the dark cold of a winter January night. And next week I will return, to turn and turn again in the telling of a tale I have yet to hear, and from which  to hopefully gain more insight.

In the Morning Dew

31 Oct

On August 7, 2014 I had the opportunity to see Warren Haynes and the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the middle of his rendition of “In the Morning Dew”, Beloved spoke.

Arching above,

deepening blue eddies of night breeze

around rivulets of sound,

comes a call

into the morning dew

wrapped in green glass light

like the tiny flecks of murano gold

swirling inside a Tuscan morning.


Crescendo symphony,

a collective wave of stardust and melody

rolls around my hip to spine

like the velvet curving of a cat’s tail

around a dreaming child’s pale foot

open to the innocent air.



a quickening

like ebbing water,



back and back

the strings of

bass and verse,

harmony high and clarion beam

building the soaring

surge that begs

for flight.


Arms lifting

along the body’s line,

stretching up the measured notes,

my soul leaps to glide

in weightless tone.

Before the laughing fall

into a vast green

swell of all,

a juxtaposed surprise appears

against familiar refrain.


In the morning dew,

I saw you,

there too.

The 116th Dream

16 May

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One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. —Bob Marley

As the end of the academic year is nearing, the natives are restless in their anticipation of freedom. I’m restless too walking the floors of my tiny windowless classroom. I count minutes and graded essays, all the while trying to lose myself in the discussion of students until the bell that signals unlocked doors and … the sun. In the bleary mornings, hot coffee and the promise of acoustic on the airwaves propels me toward the car, their soaring edges framing the brightening sky once I am on the road. On these chilly spring morning commutes, roots and folk harmony send my spirit skyward nearly like a gospel witness. Songs these days seem to deliver messages to me in synchronous drifts. In both the high harmony and in lyric simplicity, the sharp edge of voices challenges the riddles of my soul. Insight then somehow appears like a cool cloth upon this sleep-deprived head of mine before I walk past the locks on my brick cell in English Literature.

Last week, I broke the rules. The road called on a Wednesday and I acquiesced. Usually I never heed the call when classes come so early in the morning. But these days, musical intercession is needed and so upon the camino I went to see Sam Wilson from the Sons of Bill and Vandaveer. As I strolled the downtown mall of Charlottesville, only a banjo busker’s tale paused my post dinner walk toward The Southern Cafe and Music Hall. The place is relatively small, the stage and audience area a dark protected cavern of quiet, almost confessional in mood. Seated in the front row, a local stout in hand, the night and the space curled around me while Sam Wilson began to sing.

This is the quiet music of the soul, I thought.

In listening, memories opened of nights from over a decade ago when local folk musician Brian Hall prompted the yearnings of my heart. In Wilson’s songs, almost instantaneously, the depth of lyric blended effortlessly into the dissonant strings, and the body of the guitar echoed the notes. Voice, physical body, and soul became one in the instrument, a trinity of sound. I thought of the troubadour. the wandering bard… a human song offered to the heavens.

Vandaveer quietly took the stage soon after, their understated stage presence revealing that this music isn’t really about “performance” but a relaying of the simple life of common folk. I began to understand that songs of this genre are about expression and artistic connection to an old body of art. Their newest collection includes traditional ballads which recreate and celebrate the richness of American life, romantic ideals in the truest sense. Mark Heidinger’s guitar and vocals reminded me of the old mountain singers I heard as little girl with a healthy dose of Dylan thrown in. Reminiscent of Patsy Cline, Rose Guerin’s low powerful tones intertwined to prompt some of the strongest inspiration I have felt at a live musical event. The tremendous emotional harmony in the lyrics had me sporadically scribbling away in my little book. Starting the set with Pretty Polly, one of my new favorite songs, cast an energy which never dissipated over the next hour and a half. Song after song became a quiet conversation between audience and artist, a sense of meditative reflection even in the merrier moments. Some of my favorites? Beat, Beat, My Heart; Concerning Past & Future Conquests and the tango-ish Spite.

The idea of the beauty in sorrow echoed in several songs especially in Everything is Spinning.  In the chorus, the dark sorrow of loss cut against the laughing melody. And in the chilling The Murder of the Lawson Family, the dissonance between the sing-a-long quality of the tune and the narrative of murder had me wondering about musical function and form within community.  I was reminded of common folk tunes like Ring Around the Rosy and Weelia Wallia, their sad subjects masked by cheerful repeating verse.

Near the end of the set, my heart was completely captured by the childlike Beverly Cleary’s 115th Dream. I opened my book mid song and wrote —

Art is the highest form of consciousness …an expression of the energy of the spheres. Artists are conduits for the divine. When I die, I want to be as beautiful as a song. I want my passing to be a song to the Universe. How much more beautiful could that be?

The balm of note and verse comforts me. It has begun to accompany my walk like a second voice, a harmony to my own musings. Each morning, I wearily slide into my car and songs carry me to work. Each evening they carry me home. I write to music now seated at one of my new writer’s spots or on my screened back porch in the warm afternoon light. And I wonder how I could have lived without it for all this time. Because there was a long time where I simply couldn’t listen to it without pain, and not during this journey. Before it.

But each walk from my library to the kitchen forces a gaze at my grandmother’s piano, a family heirloom and iconic image from my childhood. She has played naturally, by ear, since she was four years old. It’s amazing to think what she would have done with lessons and the proper training. Her piano it a constant reminder of the connection music can bring. Comfort and home in each note.

grans piano

At the Home Bar

7 May

May arrives and suddenly, the weekends strangely dissolve too quickly for the lack of activities. Places to explore and events to attend are making way for graduations, holidays and garden work. My wandering seems to be making a seasonal change, too. Saturday morning I awoke, shuffled down to the kitchen to fix coffee and really saw my house again along the way. A slight pet hair stuffiness and thin layer of dust signaled a long stillness. I live here, to be sure, but I haven’t “lived” in this space in a while. And while much needed coffee brewed in my little pot, the prodigal daughter returned to the refrigerator only to discover a few assorted jars of mismatched condiments, olives, a half empty carton of soy milk and a few stray shriveled beets lying about, long past loneliness and well into languished repose. Sigh…. Yep, it’s time to start balancing home time with the road.

First order of business? Go grocery shopping, which I haven’t done in a major way in many months. Preparing food and creativity in the kitchen is something that makes me enormously happy, but whipping up the type of bells and whistles meals that are at the heart of that joy isn’t something I have mastered for one person at all. It seems useless to concoct a gourmet meal just for me. From scratch  cooking means quantity and merriment, which is what I love about food just as much as the dining aspect of it. However, this  something I am in short supply of, along with the cupboard items. As events slowed a bit this weekend, it was the perfect time to go to Charlottesville to some grocers I used to frequent many years ago. Since the trips of those days, my town has acquired an organic butcher, a fishmonger, organic bakeries, and believe it or not, Big Lots has foreign brands that may offer a gourmet score or three. The local Kroger has become more diverse and Anderson’s, the Amish bulk grocer features spices and grains of all variety for a most modest price. However, the day taught me truly how narrow my cupboard had become in the face of in-home solo dining and a starving lack of diverse culture ans acceptance in my area.

List in hand, up the road I went to my first stop, Foods of All Nations for a new love, Cafe du Monde. However, the primary emotion upon entering was the uselessness of the idea of picking up just one orange can and moving on to the next store. Four varieties were lined up on the shelf and the sheer availability of other gourmet items as well as organic and non-typical Lynchburg ingredients, lured me into idea after gustatory idea. My new “enlightened” grocery list began to stack up in my head while wandering each aisle. Oh, how I had forgotten “real” food.

Meyer lemons, fresh arugula in piles, cipolline onions. Black Italian kale, oyster mushrooms in heaped bins, blood oranges. San Marzano tomatoes, baby red lettuce and escarole. Kerrygold butter, clotted cream, crumpets, naan, lavosh, rusk. Swiss muesli, Scottish oats, rose macaroons, fresh baked fig bars, Sharwood’s curry sauce, Thai glass noodles, black sticky rice, fresh gnocci. Finnochiona, bresaola, pistachio romano. Cashel blue, Emmentaler, gravlax, fresh shad roe, wild salmon, duck breast, rabbit, cerignola and castlevetrano in vats. Sushi trays, Fentiman’s Orange Jigger, torrone, Cadbury flake, Belgian and Mexican chocolate, Ginger Chews, Ille Espresso. Vin Cotes du Provence…and on and on and onh… green tea ice cream. I am a foodie. I rest my shame.

The list began to become an overwhelming chaotic load of “anything you could ever want”. Every ingredient yielded an idea of something delectable, every aisle reminiscent of the complexities of the type of dishes I love creating. But so many choices, so many possibilities began to appear that I actually had to exit the store to gain a sense of direction and then go back in. Only daily items that could not be had at all in my hometown followed me out of this tiny specialty grocery. When a box of my favorite Irish cereal, Alpen, costs $9, I can really pair down my cultural food lust.

Driving through Charlottesville, I intended to stop in at Sam’s Club for the jumbo bag of raw almonds and baby spinach. But I noticed a new shopping complex and red lettered sign, marking a new grocery heaven: Trader Joe’s.

The first reaction to finding most everything I ever wanted at a decent price? Love at first sight, baby.

TJ, where have you been all my life!?

I wandered in awe, aisle after aisle, to the point where one worker finally asked,

“Ma’am, is there something I can help you find?”

Several ideas came to mind…

A new house closer to this store? A higher paying job so I can shop in this town without floating a loan? More foodies in my life who have time and inclination to eat and drink with me?

“Um…no thanks”, I said. “Just browsing.”

That sounded weird, I’m sure.

Fishing out my original shopping list curtailed my urge to plunder the aisles, while the fistful of Kroger coupons kept me from carting away basic items. Red peppers, proper Greek yogurt, cinnamon raisin crumpets, frozen potstickers and TJ’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps did make their way into the bag, though. While holding cans of turkey chili with white beans and mulligatawny soup, thoughts about why I enjoy preparing meals came to me. Yearning to cook is not necessarily because I love eating. The connection with others it provides is what I enjoy most. From the preparation to the sharing of it, I derive just as much if not more enjoyment in feeding others as I do myself. My grandmother’s nurturing influence shows in me quite a bit, I suppose. Those early years of life were spent around her table in communion with my most beloved ones and that feeling of connectedness surrounding food is what I most crave when I am home eating alone.


My shopping excursion ended at the golden Mecca of all grocery stores: Whole Foods. Traveling down the beautifully decorated and colorful aisles, the idea occurred that if all markets had such food diversity and opportunity, the cultural environment of a community would explode. But then again, a market reflects the patrons who frequent it, a recursive dynamic that is the “Catch 22” of culture. The needs of the community drive the marketplace, but more diverse needs and desires can’t engender without knowledge or funds to pay for them. Whole Foods is expensive. I won’t deny it. Premium prices are paid to support the carefully constructed displays, barrels of specialty coffee beans, stacked bins of foreign as well as local dry goods, olive oils as fine as wine, cheeses that span the globe from every milk producing domestic animal, grass fed meats, ultra fresh seafood, savory to sweet bakery and ultimately a commitment to organics and environmentally friendly products. And the employees are happy, it seems. I found loads of food knowledgeable helpful grocers there, not the typical high school graduate or retiree clerk who knows basically where the items are rather than what comprises them or how they can be prepared and enjoyed.

A paradigm shift will need to occur in this country as a whole before the joining of modern grocery needs and quality food products will happen, but I think it’s coming. Just last week I noticed that my town is building a Fresh Market, right around the corner. That’s promising. As I inconspicuously tried to shoot photos of the seafood department at Whole Foods, the lads there became curious, even when using the cell phone instead of the big girl camera. One asked, “Do you want to know about any of the items?” After a short chat about the salmon burgers they make there, he told me the feta, spinach one was best, and I trusted him. My dinner tonight will feature it alongside brown rice with an arugula, blood orange, pistachio, romano and oyster mushroom side salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette. At my pop up counter in the kitchen, on a single place setting of 1920’s Japanese china I bought at an estate store, I’ll try to create a special place just for me. Dining at the home bar? I’m working on it.

What Cannot End

5 Mar

Love is patient and kind;
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. . .

— I Corinthians 4 -8

Nearly every weekend I go and allow. In learning to look for small things, the gift of a story comes to me. In return, I get an experience, an adventure.

Sometimes, small moments converge into a message, a lesson like a perfect tiny shell in plain view upon the sand as the moments on Ocracoke.

But this story isn’t just about a cafe au lait,
or a restaurant,
or a walk and a drive,
or a film.

It is about Love.

And how we may look into its face and know ourselves.

My never ending quest to find a café au lait as good as Ryan’s leads me to the Lamplighter Roasting Co., a small cafe tucked into a Carytown neighborhood in Richmond. This tiny place, reminds me of the boats on Silver Lake, flags flying from the mast on the roof. A heavy woody caramel smoke smell of ground espresso hits me like a door upon walking in and I order my usual…a red eye cafe au lait. The barista’s call rings out a few minutes later and I look down to see a perfectly formed heart in the froth of my coffee.

Sweetness in the Froth

Mornings on the road
spent  in burlap and sips of bitter black,
coffee air and steamer squeals,
poster windowed cafes,
I scribble notes in the spaces between the sips
from a paper cup.
I pause on a perfect heart.
Crowding in from the night into a worn book,
thoughts accumulate like stacked napkins

Post coffee, I walk to Selba, a lovely restaurant on Cary Street for brunch. The room opens into partitioned spaces of sleek modern blended into Edwardian conservatory, like a deck on a great ship liner. Soon, I am wonderfully tended by David, one of the bar men. He brings me a fresh hot plate of Crab Benedict, the sea scent of it drifting upward as I gaze down upon tiny micro greens adorning the tops of perfectly poached eggs, their leaflets bowed out in little green hearts.

Perched atop my bar stool

like a spring jay among bare dogwood budded branches,

the piano player’s hands puts keys to motion

‘Sunday morning rain is falling. . .’

and I lay hand to lined paper, thoughts

on tiny heart sprouted eggs rich and hot…

I pause,

tilt my hand before

winging concrete streets,

past bright crayon colored doors. . .

A few more hours spent in Carytown yields doughnuts and cupcakes, and thoughts of those with whom to share them. Walking. I’m always walking; it strikes me that I have become the journey.

After an hour or two of shop wandering, the part I dislike the most arrives, the drive home. I’ll be back inside the concrete walls, locked doors and bells of my normal world of school and home, familiar all too soon. Leaving Richmond, I drive a different way, through Byrd Park toward a single bridge. Over the water and then down the street, winding to the left I see it, a sign in front of Westover Baptist.

Love Endures All

A third heart proclaims…love
bears, believes, hopes and endures all.
I stop the car . . .take the picture
like the random dreamsicle sunrise while
driving to school.
When I pause to see
the exact moment of dawn,
a small line moving me through the day
in quiet philosophy.

Bright sunshine made the air more crisp, more clear this Sunday on the downtown mall in Charlottesville. I click along the brick and stone courtyard toward the Paramount Theater, the last sweet dregs of a velvety headed cafe con leche in a paper cup. And even though the air bites my cheeks and fingertips, I throw my heart to the sun and let my hair blow into tangles in the playful wind. Black letters on the marquee read…The Princess Bride. Inside, at the Paramount, I move along the plush carpet, past gold gilt walls, among the couples and small children giggling, holding hands festooned in wool mittens and clutching popcorn buckets. Seated in velvet, the crystal and gold chandeliers dim, brushing light from the walls like the closing of a child’s eyelashes.

Twu Wuv

For the thousandth time,
familiar lines piece together
the worn scraps of love in my crazy quilted heart.
‘I will always come for you.
This is true love…do you think this happens everyday?”
My eyes dwell on

their nodding heads in the sunset,
a perfect heart.

“As you wish…”
the grandfather’s eyes squeeze my throat.
This story is about a gift,
about felt kindness,
about what is mirrored in the heart.

You cannot lock in the heart.
It will grow like the dawn until
it no longer fits
inside your chest…
and then you must walk inside it,
an arc rung around the sun
reflecting life inside out
outside in.

In me see you

that cannot

Roots and Vine

22 Feb

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Winter is wearing me way thin these days, and I’m not the only one it seems. So many of my friends are in the “bring on the great one or let’s get on with spring” mindset. The days are cold, my hands perpetual briquettes. I brave the air every day at 5:15am on my nighttime jog with Clar. It’s dark…that still qualifies as night in my opinion. So, I get up at the end of the night and run before the day begins, thinking all the while,What am I doing out here? Sane people weren’t meant to be out in this …exercising. Yesterday, though, I noticed in the predawn blue under the sterile halogen of the street lamp, tiny purple-white croci pushed up in my neighbor’s yard, their little buds tight, braced against the winter air, holding their little breaths.

“It’s coming”, they say. “Hold on.”

And I’ve noticed that I’m tired of holding my own breath. Seriously, I need some real fun. Cut it loose, laugh my ass off, dance till I’m out of breath fun. The past few weeks have been soft and reflective, like a shifting snow but underneath, the creek is beginning to run like a mountain thaw. The ground never sleeps for long beneath its frosted blanket of white.

So Sunday morning after my run, I knew I couldn’t stay in the house all day grading papers. I had get out and go some place warm and fun. I’ll take my medicine. I’ll grade my papers like a good little underpaid, under appreciated school marm, but I will have some fun while I’m doing it. A quick on-the-fly Internet search revealed that Tara Mills and Yankee Dixie would be playing at DuCard Vineyards in Madison County up above Charlottesville. Listening to the tracks on her website suddenly reminded me what a Virginia gal I really am. Bluegrass is in my roots, both from my Roanoke upbringing and my Irish heritage. And in my love for the vine, any winery is a fine place to be. The concert was free and DuCard has a fireplace…score.

As I drove north to Madison County, I actually thought to myself with as many wineries as you are visiting Cyndi, your readership has got to be making some judgments. Let me unequivocally state that while I love wine, I can go to a winery without lolling around in inebriated reverie or purchasing a case for my cellar, really.

. . .Stop smiling at me like that, I already have a wine conscience named Paul, thank you very much. Every time I go to a wine festival, he texts me,  “And what’s our spending limit for the cellar today? Are you being good?” and I have to stick to it. Brothers are like that.

So, I rambled up the road searching for this tiny vineyard at the base of the Shenandoah National Park. It had snowed Saturday evening in a wild draping pattern over the cedar and pine speckled mountains and through rocky valleys. I ran into white, then gold,then white. Rocks and black trees appeared amid the dusting. On the last leg of the drive, I actually laughed out loud. Ruby Thewes began to echo in my head. “Waaaaaay up in the hol-ler”, describes DuCard’s location precisely. The vineyard is situated amid open fields and cow pasture, mountain ranges and winding rural state roads. As I pulled up the drive, I knew it was worth the trip, a tiny little tasting room, nestled in a modest sized vineyard. Next to it, a tiny creek, in thaw.

DuCard has one of the warmest, most open tasting rooms I’ve experienced yet. The ceilings are high and the walls are nearly all glass, revealing the view of the mountains. In other seasons, I am sure it’s even more magnificent and I plan to go back in spring with a picnic basket. They have a lovely patio area and small stage adjacent to it. Inside, though, it’s leather couches and small garden tables aside the long tasting bar, like a great room of someone’s mountain getaway. All are invited to a nice Sunday afternoon gathering, except we don’t have to bring a dish, just ourselves.

I set up shop with papers at a table near the front, the fireside being coveted and occupied. Confession time: I had a quick tasting session beforehand. Okay, no chuckles there. DuCard has a small list of about eight wines and I directed the pourer to make sips tiny. Papers need grading. My picks include their Cabernet Franc Reserve, super smoky oak, deep and well balanced blackberry notes. The Petit Verdot will store well, as its quite hearty and full-bodied. Surprisingly, their Rosé was good even though it had a bit of bottle shock, dry with a slightly strawberry edge. The prices are somewhat high for me, though. So I obtained a glass of Cab Franc and settled back into enjoying the music of Tara Mills and Yankee Dixie for the next several hours.

Second confession: bluegrass music is my long lost love. It’s like an old flame you meet again at a highschool reunion and realize you still have it bad after all those years. You know the notes, you know the dance, no matter how long ago you heard it last. So almost immediately, I was enjoying myself way too much to grade papers except during the set breaks. The trio featured Mills on guitar and vocals, John Howard on mandolin, banjo and harmonica, and Turtle Zwadlo on upright bass. That upright bass gets me every time. It’s funny, I began to remember words to songs I hadn’t heard since I was a kid. Their blend of bluegrass and folk is like a Sunday afternoon drive on a well- traveled road. You know where you’re going and it’s warm sunshine all the way

Their rendition of Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, had me singing with Tara’s low and steady vocals. John’s joined hers in what I call the perfect “bluegrass wind up”, both voices twining around each other, stringing the notes out low then up like the long road outside. Tapping my feet to original tunes like New Year’s Resolution and What I Need…and even The Cat Song was what I had needed to shake off the winter cold. Letting out a few Irish yips at the end of songs felt fantastic, like being home.

There was a time and I think it’s true for nearly everyone when we want to escape our roots, where a young person thinks, “I live in the most uncultured uninteresting place on the planet”, especially if one happens to be from the rural south. I had always viewed my Southwest Virginian status as somehow less cultured than others, especially in college. My friends from all parts north or even places like Texas and California, I felt were “cooler” than me. Nothing exciting happens in a cow field or in the woods behind my house. So I left bluegrass behind for rock, punk, and jazz and other musical forms, just as I left my grandmother’s home cooking for cultural delicacies and foreign wine.

But as I sat there singing and tapping my heels to familiar songs, I began to realize that like a vine, I may have grown out, curling away from where I began, but that home ground still feeds me, still attaches to my core. The roots are where I truly lie and where I will eventually return at the end of my days. John Howard even mentioned playing in a punk band for many years and now he’s back to playing his roots. Seems like we all come back home from our journeys.

As I drove that evening down the mountain, I stopped to notice the landscape in its last breath of winter, the sun setting over cold mountains with the faintest glimmer of spring, a ghost of a rose hidden under the frosted fields.

Our love was like a burning ember
It warmed us as a golden glow
We had sunshine in December
And threw our roses in the snow

In old time bluegrass, those notes of home echo a slight longing, even the happy songs, and that’s a good place to start spring. That slow movement away from the still, quiet, and deep of the sunset, toward a longing for and a stretching out in the morning to the sun.

A Tale of Two Su-sees

11 Feb

Several years ago I went through a Japanese “phase”. From art to literature, food to costume, gardens to architecture, I dove into learning as much as I could. Back then, the concrete courtyard of my tiny carriage house in downtown was a tribute to Japanese style with Zen gardens, a bath house, and whiskey barrel pond with fish and fountain. Summer was spent with my own version of a far Eastern paradise right outside the door. I learned to make sushi and probably elevated my mercury levels way beyond proportion in the process, but I fell in love with Japanese culture and food.

When Ten announced that it would participate in Charlottesville’s restaurant week, my sushi excitement level rolled up a notch. Even though last Saturday was bitterly cold and snow showers set in as Clarence and I zoomed up the road, I began to anticipate not only sampling authentic sushi, but trying sake again. It seemed a milder form of rubbing alcohol in my first experience of it and recently the only sushi I had been diving into was the Kroger variety spicy tuna roll; any port in a Pacific storm, I suppose. So I was eager to experience a “real” Japanese restaurant.

Briskly clicking down the bricks of Charlottesville’s downtown mall, I found the door to Ten and climbed the stairs, grateful for the warm ambiance that greeted me. The peaceful spa-like atmosphere comes mainly from lighting, glass globes like tiny bubbles floating upward to the water’s surface, hung from the mirrored ceiling. Marbled candlelight glows about the room; clear glass sculptures echo the light in celadon green and dark brown. The narrow length of the restaurant and its up-the-stairs location create a sense of a diminutive isolated inlet. Perched on my bar stool with low back and comfortable cushion, I gazed at the strip of sunset style lighting behind the bottles on the bar. The entire experience at Ten spoke of precision and reflection, reminding me of the traditional tea ceremony I attended during my Japanese summer. My place at the bar was set with all the necessary accouterments of Japanese eating, little plates, hashi, and tiny vessel of tamari placed in precise order. Efficient but professionally warm, described my bartender as he suggested I try a flight of sake to match my selections from the prix fixe menu. And so a feast of tiny ocean tidbits rolled out by an electric sunset. The first course of seared hamachi adorned by tiny micro greens was paired with a dry sake, Tamari Hikari “Brilliant Jade”. Slightly jasmine scented, the sake changed in interaction with the food, the slightly salty smoky grilled tuna turning the sake sweet. I lingered over the first course, for it was so tiny that in American style, it could be consumed in less than a minute. But I thought about the tea ceremony, and the invitation to reflect while in practice, tasting fully each bite and putting the hashi down, each time.

A second course followed, a spicy tuna maki (maguro, avocado, kyri, and togarashi). The sauce was tomato based and with a dark rich spicy sweet cayenne burst that paired well with the next sake, Kabota Senju “A Thousand Dreams” . This sake had a mellowed, more round edge to it that balanced the spicy richness of the maki. During my second course, I noticed one of the waiters had come around to the back of the bar, and was focused on crafting a sunset style drink. Another waitress teased him slightly, “You’re like a scientist!” He chuckled, “I just want to make it right”. And he did take a full two minutes to get the grenadine to set exactly. That attentiveness to detail and to method permeated Ten. From first to last course, the perfection and structure of the food and dining room walked a very thin line between elegance and pretension. In my mind, that’s what happens when the fear of being “only” just as good as everyone else comes to the point of “overdoing”…..i.e. perfectionism. Even though my final course, a chef’s choice of temari sushi topped with varying fish roe and served with semi dry Dasai 50 “Otter’s Fest” was delicious and delicate, a slight nagging vacuity never left my mind.

This past Friday upon visiting a second Japanese cafe close to my home, Suzaku, I figured out my feelings. I drive by the place all the time and really never gave it much credit. Another Americanized Asian greasy spoon was what I had assumed. They serve sushi, and sushi crepes.

Yes, sushi crepes. That’s like bbq chicken pasta in my book.

I can be pretentious myself about food, however, so I decided in light of my Ten experience to pick up some sushi take-out. How do I describe the ambiance of Suzaku? Chinese food take-out meets Japanese Disneyland, with a huge dose of American standard strip mall. But it’s extremely clean, it’s warm, and it’s real. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played on the flat screen TV, amid candy colored painted furniture and brightly colored Asian themed decorative items, jade frog included. The clerk who greeted me was so friendly and sweet when I asked her about ordering to go. She explained the menu to me, struggling through her heavy accent. As she went back to making crepes in the open kitchen (for me, a sign of excellence in food) I perused the menu. Nearly everything I had ordered at Ten was listed, perhaps named differently, but still the same sushi (or su-see) as she pronounced it, nonetheless. Su-see is su-see no matter where, as long as its made properly. I tried the Green Bay crepe, filled with seaweed salad, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and fish roe with a side order of Maguro Nigiri. Even though I took the food home and didn’t have the perfectly paired sake, it was just as good, maybe even better. I watched the chef at Suzaku prepare my nigiri, rice fresh from the cooker, fresh fish sliced thin and fine. The clerk made my crepe, which surprisingly, was pretty awesome and I discovered something about myself. While I revel in fine food and spirits, I’ve been mesmerized by slight affectation in venue. My bill at Ten was a cool $80, just for me. At Suzaku? Eleven bucks.

Maybe this attentiveness to perfection includes me, too. I’ve stressed about my writing and I should just let go sometimes. Perhaps Disneyland and su-see are what I need to lighten me. It seems the only time I’m able to write about something funny is when the plan goes horribly awry. Seeing the lighter side just might give me a different way of looking at traveling this road. Light, unassuming, and simple, sometimes the best places and people don’t take themselves so seriously.

Taste and Time

5 Feb

One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything. — Oscar Wilde

Recently I have been thinking about age.

Aging, age differences…all of it.

It’s been quite dismaying to me to become the age I am. I certainly don’t think of myself in terms of a number. My mind is clearer now than it’s ever been. Awake is the only way to describe the contrast between my cognitive and behavioral functions now as opposed to fifteen years ago. I feel wise and open, not afraid to be my most authentic self with others. Many of my friends see me as “balls to the wall” brave,with a huge side of quirk. I’ve learned how to be kind and yet completely honest at the same time. I’ve lost the urge to become overly concerned with life happenings, letting life go much more easily than in the past. Is that a sign of maturation? Perhaps. I’ve lived long enough to know both that I’ll live through difficulties and yet in less years than imagined, I will die. That places me in the center of a road and quite conscious of every step, every gift.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how age affects my ability to be socially romantic. There aren’t many men my age who are also solo and of the same mind intellectually, artistically, and spiritually. This limits socializing quite a bit. And there’s something I’ve noticed more now than ever and that is the preference of many men of my peer group for much younger women, much younger than me anyway. Not that I wouldn’t be romantically inclined to men a many years my junior, so I don’t blame them. Almost all of the men in my life have been younger, but that has taught me a lot about the road and where one walks upon it. How comforting it can be to have a companion who understands and can negotiate the soul. The power of negotiation that age preference gives men, though, has frustrated me, a lot. I’ll live longer statistically; it makes sense to me that my partner should be the same age or younger. Not the other way around. However, my choice in the matter is severely limited through enormous cultural and social conditioning. I’m still trying to wrap my understanding around that.

Saturday afternoon found me up the road to Charlottesville with Clar in tow. My visit to Tastings was planned for several weeks after checking out their website. Along with retail wine sales, they feature a restaurant, wine club and newsletter. Prompted by traveling, knowing more about wine has become a personal goal. I know just enough to make a fool of myself in front of someone truly experienced and that needs amending. The day was bitterly cold, and sprinkled with snow showers and truth be told, I was lonely. A caught feeling, like feeling beautiful and at my personal best and yet somehow alone was wearing on my mind. I’ll admit in these moments, the “what’s wrong with me” tends to pop up. In my case, the age factor was playing an eight track and I unfortunately began singing along.

Exiting a sudden heavy snow shower, I entered the “old world” ambiance of Tastings. Walls were lined from floor to ceiling with bottle upon bottle. Wooden boxes, stacked by racks, presented green glass flagons with colorful labels and elegant script. When Bill Curtis, the owner, asked how he could help me, I suddenly realized my complete status as a novitiate oenophile. My clever answer?

“I don’t know…I suppose I’d like to know more about French wine?”

That’s like a bride-to-be telling a florist, “I’d like the white bridal bouquet.”

Bill’s expertise is impeccable, and his fluency with a large variety of wines is intriguing to witness. He helps a wide clientele as well as serving gourmet lunch and dinner in the restaurant. As we began to chat more though, I suddenly realized the power that comes with knowledge born of experience, the ability to guide and to share. And I thought, that must be the thing for men, an innate sense of fixing things, of being the guide, the leader. I understand, but it doesn’t make the sense of having missed the love boat go away. While we discussed a variety of wines, I began to notice the price range was a bit higher than I have been accustomed to unless at a vineyard, but then quite quickly I realized the reason. Bill has great wine. He tastes everything, knows it all well and is able to recommend according to a customer’s preferences and plans.

Carafes and containers, flasks and phials, the green glass glows. That’s something I think I love most about wine. Just the way each is different, beautiful in it’s own way and the esoteric value of the label’s paper and ornamentation. Cork and ritual, it’s a fancy that doesn’t take much future commitment unless one cellars. I sat at the bar as the snow intensified, and had a flight of French reds. Bill chose for me at my request and he began to discuss really fine wines, those that were $350 to $400 a bottle. He told me a story about judging a wine that was over one hundred years old and how they kept it in a large barrel and then bottled it on order. I began to think in metaphor once again.

“Bill, how do you know that a wine will age well… that it will be better as time passes?”

He smiled, “Most likely…it’s a red.” He winked.

I smiled, and actually blushed a little.

He continued, “Well, one easy way, is that at first, it doesn’t open up immediately. It improves with being open.

Then, when you taste it, your mouth neutralizes the tannins quickly and there won’t be many in its young stage. It will be fruity. With time it will develop and deepen in complexity.

Secondly, it shouldn’t have any bitterness and then lastly, it’s got to be unfiltered.”

At that point, I almost laughed out loud.

“The organic particles in the wine have to be there for the wine to stay alive, to change and grow.”

That’s about as simple an explanation as he could give me. It was all I needed to understand not only about wine, but about me.

It’s something I think applies to everyone, not just women. Wines that last, that are precious are also rare. They demand a high price because they can. They have all the right elements from the beginning; they are kept well and appreciated for their complexity and the surprises they can bring to a discerning palate. Their rarity makes them special and therefore coveted, but only among those who know what makes a wine really good. One can drink young wine all day, every day and be quite happy. But the special vintages are old and they come around only once in a while. Once experienced, the differences are obvious. They outlive others through good planning, good keeping, and luck. One could say that to pay $400 for a bottle of Bordeaux is insane.

But if he has the knowledge to know its rarity and can understand and anticipate the promise of what it will deliver, the investment is worth it.

That’s a lesson for me, too.

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