This one’s not directly about wine; it’s about wine only insofar as it’s about the broader fabric of the life in which we enjoy wine. Doing our best to savor some sensory pleasures, I mean, day in and day out. Trying to grab something simple, surprising, and satisfying in the quotidian. To wit: I was in Yosemite over the weekend, working on a story about rock climbers and rangers, and when I got home L was exhausted from having both kids. So I took little H up to the hill to pick berries at our newly discovered berry bush. First, I stopped in the basement to screw a big hook onto the end of a wooden closet pole, and then I put H in the car—too lazy to walk today—and we drove around to the far side of the hill. There, we hiked across the dry, golden grass—flowers ever fewer now, though still a few wally baskets, tight little poppies, and some new, garish thing growing. Also, the young hawks are here again this year, thriving and learning, and we watched the mating pair, the mother and father, harassed by an aggressive crow—looping and soaring in flight, parting and rejoining.
We hiked up on the north slope of the hill and approached our berry bush, and I placed H down in the grass and found a crazy profusion of superripe berries right before me. It was as if nobody had been there, though the flattened grass said otherwise. I wore a cowboy hat and a long-sleeve shirt, and I stood up against this big bush, pulling down huge, swollen, ripe berries, putting them in H’s mouth.
“My mouth’s ready for another berry!” she’d say, opening wide, and then I’d pop one in there, my fingers black from the juice.
“Hold me, Daddy!”
“Hold me, Daddy?”
“Up.” I slung her up and kept picking with the other hand, and if I turned my head in the sunshine, toward the cool fog off the ocean—Central Valley temperatures rising—I could see the whole of downtown, the fog rolling across it, and yet here I was with my daughter, high above San Francisco’s Mission District, picking berries, our faces stained with juice.
H sat awhile in the grass eating anise, too, and then I shoved a few branches in my shirt pocket to cook at home; as I carried her back down to the car—and toward the steak I meant to cook and the Malbec I meant to drink—I saw crickets jumping away from my feet. I pointed them out to H, but she didn’t see them.