There is a point on the two lane highway as you enter the Napa Valley where the horizon is filled with vineyards that stretch outward across the valley floor and then sweep upward as high as the hills will allow. The only break in the perfectly aligned rows is an occasional family home, almost always two story and white, with a wide porch encircling the house, or clump of oaks majestically watching over the vines. During summer the view becomes a sea of green, balanced by the alternating red lines of soil; but as autumn arrives a mosaic of red, yellow, and orange attack your senses in a vibrant mosaic of nature. I see a small sign placed at the entrance to a dirt road leading to the white house that reads, “Drive slow – grapes at play.” I think there is more truth to the sign than we know.
I spent much of this week in Canada, near Toronto. It is an absolutely beautiful area: rolling green hills, with strands of purple and yellow wildflowers winding between the small lakes and tall trees. Autumn is gently taking stride; the trees wore bright yellow leaves, and every so often a deep red would highlight the season. Rounded stone walls surrounded the pitched steeples of old, yet still vibrant churches at many of the four way stop signs as we drove through the countryside. The square stone construction and arched stain glass windows of the churches reminded me of a time when days were filled with hard work on the family farm, and the nights with a fire, blanket, and a good book to end the day. Nostalgic memories of what were, or of what I envisioned it to be, filled my mind; and I freely let it pour in, drenching my subconscious with thoughts of all that was good, and filtering out anything that wasn’t.
Our car sped down the two lane Canadian road in metric time; the signs telling me in kilometers how much further until we reached the reality of the city, where grey concrete obscured the yellow of the trees, and red was the color of the light at intersections. The transition from the tranquility of the country, to the attempted beauty of the city was slow, like a small leak deflating a bicycle tire. Make no mistake, Toronto is an amazing city, with more to offer than most, but it cannot compare to the land that surrounds it.