Oscar Wilde said “Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”
He was right, I think, but memory can be a tricky thing, which is why I write things down. Because often it’s the things you most want to hold on to that are most prone to slipping away.
When I was a child and I would be on family vacations with my mom, dad, and sister, I absolutely hated the obligatory “Let’s stand in front of this sign or this landmark or this whatever and ask a stranger to take a picture of us smiling brightly into the camera” moment. It wasn’t because I wasn’t having a good time. It was because I usually was, and all this stopping to pose for pictures seemed disruptive to me. Plus, I’ve never like having my picture taken. I didn’t as a child, and I still don’t, but as an adult, at least in the last few years, I’ve discovered a way out of it, which is to be the person taking the pictures. I’m not any great photographer, but I do dearly love taking photographs, and perhaps even more the editing process that follows. There are some photos that I prefer straight out of the camera, but I love to play around with different edits, trying to match the end result to the way I remember the scene in my mind.
I have been to the Napa Valley three times, twice in summer, and once, most recently, in the fall. I loved Napa in the summer – I mean, really – what’s not to love? Gorgeous scenery, scrumptious food, and wine for the tasting just about everywhere you turn. Plus your hair and your skin always look amazing. But Napa in the fall was a sublime experience. Part of it was, I’m sure, the reason I was there in the first place, which was because my aunt had won a trip to this amazing event called Live in the Vineyard and I was her guest. We got private tours of several wineries, plus two nights of great music by some amazing bands, like Jack’s Mannequin, Safety Suit, Daughtry, and many more. I got to stick my hands deep in a vat of fermenting grapes, amid numerous bees who were too drunk to sting.
On our last morning, we were treated to an intimate acoustic performance by Michelle Branch, who was lovely. My aunt and I also had dinner at Bottega, in Yountville, and if you ever go there, order the risotto. Just … order the risotto. It will change your life. It is worth a trip there all by itself. And then go to the Culinary Institute of America at Graystone and buy some lavender chocolates. They, too, are life-changing.
I was, I’ll admit, a tad camera happy on that trip, to the point that once I even caught myself snapping photos of a grocery store. Which was crazy, but the flower beds out front were such a riot of exquisite and varied colors that I just couldn’t help it. I love flowers, but I have a black thumb, and the varieties of flowers that grow well in Florida just don’t excite me all that much. Bougainvillea and hibiscus are not exotic, they are ho-hum. Give me hydrangeas. Give me peonies. Give me snapdragons. Give me lilacs.
Anyway, yesterday, I was going through some of my filed photos, tying to purge some and free up some space on my hard drive and I came across some of my photos from that trip and now I can’t wait to go back again. Here are some of my favorites. (It is no accident that I am not in any of them.)