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trust the spirit


being with catalonia

not gaudi, nor picasso, nor no man, could sing the song catalonia sings each day without being asked.

The salt roars off the rugged coastline and cures the entire place in one fell swoop.

The salt in the air is no different than the salt in this ham--the deep red, the fatty wet--the ham i seem to find in this hand whether breakfast or dinner does the church chime ring over the salt-cured children of this lovely place.

And as the catalonian sun rises up my spine and neck the same deep redness rises from beneath my skin as it comes to roast.  

sweat gently fills the cracks of my forehead like raindrops fill the crevice of that boulder before it's burrow is full and rolls off the tip of my nose in one salty plunge.

i too, now, reddened by the sun, salt-cured by my sweat--i too, now, can raise my forearm to my lips and taste catalonia with a lick of my own skin.

i too, now, having suckled catalonia's full teat, taste of this ham, of this people, of this place.

no one, not the stray dogs howling, not the roosters strutting, not even the wind which carries this salt from the sea, through the grasses to and fro--no one, and certainly not my words, can express catalonia more sweetly than herself.


drinking and being happy at coturri winery

an afternoon of farmthought and vino, walking the vines with winemaker nic coturri.  nic is twenty seven years old, and is a lifetime apprentice to his family’s celebrated natural vineyard, championed by his pioneering father, tony coturri, since the early sixties on a Sonoma creekside hill in glen ellen, ca.

if you read my recent post on the hunter’s wine, the wine of the forest—as inspired by an event at Blackberry Farm featuring Aleš Kristančič from slovenia’s movia—then it will be no surprise that coturri, my number one favorite wine from Sonoma, produces their wine through an emphasis on good farming practices and basically, at the end of the day, “not getting in the way” of their product. 

this weekend, in mixed company, I mentioned my preference for only drinking wines which are produced such as coturri and movia et al.--no added sulfites, no dilutions, stabilizers, filtrations, etc.  a friend asked, "how come?"  I felt as though the implication was clear:  how could I simply eliminate ninety eight percent of the entire world of wine?  including some of the world's "greats"?

my answer was simple.  I feel the same way about wine as I do about any food that I grow or eat—wine is an essential part of the diet!  if wellness or culture are to have any place in our society, soils must be built not destroyed, and food must nourish not sicken.  wine is a gift from the universe, not a creation of man.  I would rather not drink a single drop of wine again, if I couldn’t drink wine made like this.

it was a true pleasure walking the vines with a producer who truly lives these words.


many thanks should be given to our friend and culinary consigliere chef Andrea, from new york’s mamma duchess, for turning us on to these beautiful wines.


spirit springs

a stone, fleeced in the cold embrace of a passing stream, stands alone in full company.

bold, and staunch, in the face of an unbroken current, the stone stands seemingly still.  

-how deceiving-  

nothing like the pressure of water and time can mold stillness into movement.

my great, great, great offspring will sit here on this bank and see a pebble of my stone--and likely, they'll see nothing at all.

A log, or a branch--a flush of upstream detritus--and my melon sized stone will dislodge from its nook, and move on from this mellow place i sit.

as unknown as its' future may lie, what unknowns for my stone have already come to be?

did this stone sit atop that ridge up yonder?  through the oaks, and the furs--surrounded by eagles and the breeze? 

did it stand atop that ridge and wish upon the day that a storm would carry it and the mud down through the roots and the bush, down past the early spring buds and the sopping wet leaves, down to the babbling thread of life singing wet sonnets for the forest to adore?  


and now, fleeced in the cold embrace of a flowing stream, does it miss the high altitude?  does it miss the mountain fog and the misty views?  does it yearn for the day when that upstream log will dislodge it towards adventures to come?  

-unlikely still- 

the stone stands alone in full company, today as it is.  

the stream flows over and by, away from this mellow place, while the stone and i sit.  what more could we possibly do?


laissez le vin de se faire--let the wine make itself

ten or twelve moons ago I met a sorcerer who told us the ways.  we’re tubes, he announced.  cosmic tubes—superhighways for energy—to channel from the earth, through our bodies, and out to the universe.  the energy we put out becomes the energy we live in.  our reality is a reflection of our vision.  to quote the Navajo, we walk in beauty.   

while inspiration can strike anywhere, and can come from anyone, many moons will come and go before a person is likely to encounter a spiritual guide in the flesh.  so filled with love and energy that the beauty they walk in actually reshapes not only what you too are walking in, but how you feel at your core.  their presence makes you feel different.  they say things in a way that makes everything so simple, everything so harmonious.

when the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

last weekend her and I were invited to attend a dinner featuring the wines of Slovenian biodynamic farmer/vintner Aleš Kristancic.  over the years many writers have used many words to capture his philosophy and techniques:  biodynamic, natural, organic, traditional, unique—and some probably less flattering:  crazy, or weird.  but Aleš uses only one word:  wine.  he makes wine in the way he knows how.

every form of holistically managed agriculture regards the forest as the earth’s great example of efficiently balanced diversity and productivity.  Aleš, and others, including myself, goes through great effort to replicate as many aspects of natural biodiversity as possible in their farming practices.  the bounty of life in the forest--below the ground, decomposing on the ground, living above the ground—the diversity creates the balance.  natural farming methods strive for this balance through imitation.  conventional agriculture stifles this balance through chemicals.      

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its got what you need

I always leave feeling somewhere between off and rotten.  I get dropped into that big apple and it’s as if my only option is to eat and drink my way out.  and out I come, three days later, curled up like a slimy worm.  a worm, I wish—for if I were a worm I’d be free from this achy skeleton which sits twisted in the bucket seat of this usairways cough box.  free from my swollen stomach liner that trembles from the days of binging and boozing I imposed on it. 

the perfect cocktails, the finely pressed suits, and the world’s rarest foods.  the horn of plenty.  a city I once called home now overwhelms me.  it stands shining like a brazen trophy shelf, touting gold ribbons in every event.  the city?  yea, its got what you need. 


a foot in the kitchen

who knew at four forty five this morning when the alarm coerced me to attention how much this burn on my forearm would sting as I sit here aching in my chair, ankles swollen, a full arc of the sun later.  the cold, wet darkness of my morning commute was both disheartening—in an ominous, foreboding sort of way—and at the same time invigorating, as I used the empty smoky mountain blacktop like blinders on a horse in the infantry.  eyes forward, mind like a laser beam, I found myself repeating various phrases:  you’re alert, you’re sharp, your ears are wide open, you can do this, you can take every instruction, you can remember every detail.  phrases, in my early morning mind, proved a few syllables too much as simple words replaced them in short order:  alert, sharp, quick, ready. 

my fingers are not enjoying the digital dexterity required to type this entry.  the tendons and nerves are tired both.  the skin is flush with burns from the dozens of piping hot foodstuffs I had but one choice to bare handle.  there’s a thin slice—like a thick paper cut— that runs from the heel of my palm to the its’ center.  my right shoulder and right neck are standing upright, reaching towards my right ear—a side effect of the hundreds and hundreds of push-pulls I accumulated on the meat slicer before lunch service. 

I wear my white chef’s coat and pinstriped apron with both the pride of an ardent foodist as well as the bashfulness of a person who absolutely knows they performed none of the labor and gave none of the sacrificial bloodsweat the kitchen g-d’s typically require for entry to its’ hallowed bowels.  in between knife strokes, smoky eyes, and a bucket of ice I stopped for a second to recognize that not only was I living out one of my own dreams, but I was living out countless people’s dreams. 

for years I’ve watched the epically beautiful flow of a kitchen humming towards synchronicity and day dreamed myself into the action.  the tickets coming in, the chef at the podium jerking and gesturing his baton at the orchestra, and the cooks pirouetting and waltzing from burner to smoker to fryer to sink.  a few years prior, as I strained with focus on the floor of the ny stock exchange, I was constantly convincing myself that the rapid-fire logic required to perform on the floor of the exchange was the same skill set required in the kitchen. 

presently, it’ three days into my foray as a member of the kitchen staff at blackberry farm’s main house kitchen.  I type at a quarter to eight with a weight in my eyes usually reserved for several more laps around the track of the clock.  I look back at my former self's assumptions of can-do-itness and question my untested confidence.  it’s a hard life, a life in the kitchen, and it’s only taken me three days to understand that in completely new ways.  lessons and skills for my body and mind are being accrued in leaps and bounds, and the numbness that fills my body right now is spiked with content.  and tomorrow, as I walk out the door into the damp quiet which sits on these foothills each day, i’ll make sure to smile as i cruise towards the great smokies in a fresh white coat.    

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