No one may have noticed — except my mom, who I was visiting — but I've been on vacation the past two weeks. I had the important mission of bringing a case of Rick's Red down to Northern California for her 90th birthday party and the weeklong continuing events with lots of relatives.
Since I rode my motorcycle down I had to recruit my son to take the wine. He and his family were up here visting and planned to stop in at the birthday party on the way back to their home in Berkeley. The wine was a hit with my Italian family with many pasta-centered dishes, as well as the requisite California tri-tip barbecue night. My wines might not have been up to the $230 bottle of Shafer Vineyards Hiilside Select that my niece Kimberly brought (she works for Shafer, considered one of Napa's finest wineries), but they were appreciated all the same.
But returning from vacation is always as frantic as getting ready to leave. The grass needed mowing. The garden needed weeding. The vineyard needed pruning. The funky timers I set up on my drip systems seemed to have worked and every living thing on my acre of heaven took advantage of my absence to grow prodigiously. Heads of broccoli sprouted to platter size. The garden fence was draped with peas. Turnip greens had grown knee-high. Tomato plants sprawled on the ground out of their cages.
The vineyard had become a jungle of interwined vines, wrestling each other for sunlight. Weeds had organized a concerted effort to take over the garden and what I call a lawn.
Sunday, my one day back before returning to work, was spent morning to dusk trying to catch up. I mowed, weeded, watered, harvested, blanched and froze a bushel of garden greens. I whacked and pruned the unruly vineyard and was pleasantly surpised to find lots of tiny bunches of grapes hidden close to the cordons.
It was a satisfying if exhausting day. I ate broccoli and pea pod/goat cheese risotto with my piece of salmon, washed down with liberal amounts of cool, cheap, working class chardonnay.
It's good to be back home.