THE CRUSH IS ON


It’s Fall, and Northern California is ripe! California wines are noteworthy, and this year looks like a bumper crop. Driving through the Napa Valley or the Santa Cruz mountains, the somewhat overpowering odor of fermenting grapes can give you a “high” from the open car window! I’m really not kidding. You don’t even need to pop the cork. When the crush is on, it is like sniffing a vat full of wine with your nose 2 inches from the surface. Well, maybe a slight exaggeration.
Wineries welcome you for tours, and the urge to pick up “just one more of that good stuff” can be hard to ignore.
It’s beautiful in these parts of the state at this time of year. The grapes hang heavy on the vines, bulging with sweet juice, while the leaves are just beginning to turn color in some vineyards, though not all.
To see these even rows leading off into the distance, is a siren call for an artist. Bacchus has been honored in paint and print for centuries.
I love the small family-owned wineries in the mountains. We like to grab a loaf of good french bread, a large chunk of cheese, and take off early on a sunny morning ending up at a nice secluded beach along the coast. Perhaps stop at a farm in the Russian River country for some new crop apples dripping with juice, and smelling like they were picked just for you. (Or maybe go to a farm where you canbe the picker. What could be a better fall day? Then shake the sand out of your shoes and drive home. Perfect.

HUNTERS vs. GATHERERS


The Old Arrowmaker, w/c by KSR

Hunting season is practically a religion with some people.  My father was a deer huner.  He tried very hard to convince me that if the herds were not controlled, they would starve to death in winter.  That may be true, but if I were a deer, I’d rather go hungry than to see all those maniacs running through my forest dressed up in their camo and crazy red hats, and waving the latest model rifle my way.  Of course the deer do make a game of it by hiding behind bushes and trees and making the hunter work for every shot.

Hunters spend a lot of time readying themselves for the hunt.  Cave man simply had to pick up his club and grunt goodbye to his wife.  But today’s hunters go into a fervor getting properly outfitted in the attire of the proper hunt.

A number of years ago, two young grandsons retreated to their ancient memory of the Hunter.  Armed with new bows and arrows, camping gear and boys,  we set off for a spot near Lake Almanor in Northern Caifornia to take them on their primeval deer hunting experience.

Dr. Advice and I are not hunters, unless you consider a sale at Nordstrom in my case.  We have done a great deal of scrounging the depths searching for fish, and he did some pheasant and duck hunting in the past, but I don’t think we could be considered part of the Hunter economy.

Day One of the hunt.  With a number of other seasoned hunters readying themselves in the campground, the boys dressed in their new camo clothing, dirtied up their faces, pocketed their compass,and as a final addition, sprayed on  Fox Urine!  (It was described in more colorful language).  It is female fox hormone and smells so bad you will never forget it, but is supposed to attract prey.  However, how fox hormone can attact deer is beyond me, don’t they have their own scent?

We drove them to the dropping off point, and set the pickup time.  Since they had no watch, I gave the youngest one my “Rolex” watch to wear.

We arrived at the appointed time to find both hunters sitting on the side of the road, the youngest one with tears running down his face, saying he had lost my “Rolex”.

I could have let him suffer, but instead I told the truth, that it was a phony his Dad had given me anyway.  I told them the good thing was that some hunter was going to find it and think he had found the real McCoy, saying to his wife “Honey I didn’t get a deer, but I found a real Rolex!”

As a dyed- in- the- wool Gatherer, I fed them large plates of “Hamburger Helper” and told them to wash their faces.