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  • Just a few weeks ago, we vacationed in northern California. One of my more memorable moments was our time spent in Sonoma. This was only my second sojourn there but I love the wine country! Even though I am certainly more of a city girl at heart, there is something about that area that resonates with me. There is a feeling of longing and belonging that I can't explain and that feels almost sad. Sad, perhaps, because I don't live there. Maybe my soul lived there in another time, another era.

    On the drive through the countryside there are miles and miles of vineyards. Each one strikingly similar to the next with a few exceptions. The army of grapes are arranged in a legion of perfect rows, standing at attention. Waiting for the daily sun to ripen them for the harvest. There is something peaceful and soothing about it.

    We toured a winery and went into the underground "cave" where barrels and barrels of wine were stored. I breathed in the scent of the cellar and suddenly felt transported back in time; decades, back to my childhood. It was a familiar musty, fertile, damp, yet not unpleasant aroma.

    The scent evoked not one particular memory but a series of memories. Every fall when the weather hinted at the chill of winter yet to come, my father would order grapes. They were golden in color. Perhaps chardonnay or catawba grapes. Cartons of them would be delivered and taken to our basement. Either way they were much different from the sweet, plump, juicy, deep-purple kind that we grew on a trellis in our backyard and ate with abandon on hot summer afternoons.

    I don't recall the exact process but I know that after work my father would spend evenings in the cellar. He had this ancient wine press that he would use. Before long, the grapes would be gone and their sweet, sticky, empty cartons stacked on top of one another while a heavier spiciness lingered in the air. An amber-hued liquid filled the once-empty wine bottles and they were laid on their sides on a shelf, in order to age.

    And .....before long, the wine bottles would be empty. He never could wait for it to age.
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