“If she could see herself the way I do.” Fourth Estate Pinot Noir 2015

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I turned down Poppleton Avenue and I was delighted to see that the trees were in bloom. Different people have, over time, told me different things regarding the varietal of handful of trees on our block that put on white blossoms for a few weeks each spring, and any arborists reading this post are more than welcome to comment with their answer. Though while I don’t know for certain what sort of tree sits in my front yard, I know that they signal the advent of spring, and that they make me happy. They had blossomed over the weekend, while I was away fly fishing for Northern Pike, and seeing them in bloom as I pulled into our drive broadened the smile that was already playing upon my lips.

I was smiling, no doubt, because I was about to see my children. I’d had a terrific if too-short weekend of fishing (see my previous post), but upon putting the rods away in Ord, Nebraska, where my fishing partner Tylr lives, I all but raced to my car and floored the gas pedal, putting nearly two hundred miles behind me a little faster than is lawful in the pursuit of seeing my family. I have no idea how I’m going to survive nearly two weeks in the Balkans this summer without them, but I have time to work it out.

I got home, got hugged, and got the kids loaded for a long walk along the trail near our home. This is by far one of my favorite fair weather activities. and we’d had woefully little opportunity to take walks in a springtime insistent upon snow and freezing temperatures. Last night, nearly eighty degrees, I couldn’t wait to begin walking.

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Walking with Sonja and the kids for me is therapy. It’s good for my tired, aging, increasingly easy-to-damaged muscles, yes, but it’s also the other sort of therapy. Sonja and I talked, catching up on our weekends, sharing developments in our careers, talking finances, and taking in good, clean air and the sound of birds as we walked under a canopy of trees. Five years into our marriage, I still can rarely feel as if I’ve spent sufficient time with my wife.

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We returned home from our walk and I strapped Zooey into her high chair in the kitchen where she presumably helped Sonja cook dinner, then I took Titus into the living room to read books. Titus, like me, is an avid fan of Dr. Seuss, though of course we sometimes read other things. My complaint with much of children’s literature, which I’ve come to recognize only over the past few years, is that it often isn’t telling a story at all. The final page of the book we read last night can be seen in the story above and, while I suppose a book with no plot has little need for a satisfying conclusion, at times it just feels sort of lazy. I remarked upon this to Titus, who is tolerant of my waxing philosophic about things such as literature most of the time.

“The person who wrote this books seems to have very limited abilities in the story-telling department,” I began. Titus looked up at me patiently, knowing I usually get the plane landed if given enough time. I continued:

“But they seem to have made quite a career out of their ability to draw birds. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, learn to recognize your talents and utilize them to their fullest, okay Titus?”

“Okay,” he replied dutifully, and then quickly followed it up with “Let’s read it again!”

“Okay,” I replied. I put my large arm over his little shoulder and pulled him towards me on the couch. This isn’t really about the book anyway.

Not long after we finished reading about a duck and a goose and the colorful hats they have inexplicably donned for the third time, Sonja called us to dinner. We sat at the table, and after Titus informed us that he was most thankful for Elephants and Rhinoceros (and also Zooey when we reminded him) we ate a wonderful chicken dish, complimented by a cauliflower rice and corn concoction that was really nice, and paired with a bottle of Fourth Estate Pinot Noir.

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I’d met Jeffrey Taylor, a proprietor of the winery, a few weeks earlier at VinNebraska (see previous posts), and had enjoyed his company for the brief time I was so fortunate to be in it. Fourth Estate, a timely, perhaps even urgent nod to the free press as the fourth branch of government, was the honorary winery at the event they have helped support for a decade now. Jeffrey, a reporter a Bloomberg News, is a keen-witted writer with a love of good wine, a combination that drew me to him instantly. I hope to share more about Fourth Estate in future posts, but for now, know that their Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, sourced from the La Cruz Vineyard, is phenomenal stuff. A potent nose of candied maraschino cherry and a gorgeous deep ruby hue with long spinner’s legs leads to a palate of black cherry with earthy notes, a touch of raspberry, and a subtle hint of cola. Incredibly smooth, this was one of my favorite wines out of many I tasted at VinNebraska.

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We finished up dinner, chatting with the kids and listening to a combination of Sesame Street songs and Hamilton while the kids explored their beverage receptacles in such a way as to indicate “we’re tired and ready to go to bed.” Sonja and I put the food away, then as is our routine, split the kids and put them to bed. I was thankful that Titus wanted to read “The Zax” and The Sleep Book and mentioned nothing further about water fowl. We read and I held him for a while, and he went promptly to sleep. I walked back downstairs to finish our wine and our conversation with Sonja, as is our custom, and I saw Sonja:

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I don’t think she knows I took the picture, and its a bit grainy because I did it from a distance, zoomed in, on my iPhone. I hope not to embarrass her here, as she’ll likely read this sometime this morning, but my wife is a vision, and so often I see her and just want to frame the memory and hang it on the wall of our house; the hallways of my mind are adorned with countless images like this one. She’ll say self-depricating things at times, as I suppose most humble people do, but I wanted to wrap up this morning by sharing with you one of these images which I see almost daily. My beautiful wife seated in our living room, sipping at a beautiful glass of Pinot Noir, is something I see almost nightly, and something I cannot get enough of. She is beautiful in her unfailing support of our family, in her patience for a whimsical, ideological, impulsive husband, in her boundless love for two wonderful children, and in every other way imaginable, and we are lucky to have her.

The trees are in bloom, and outside the robins are singing up a storm of chirps. I love that my children will awake to these sights and sounds, and even more so that, long after I have gone to work, they’ll awake to a wonderful, doting mother as well. I look forward to more walks along the trail this spring, more books read with my children, more wonderful wine, and to sharing it all with you. As always, thanks for reading.

Cheers to the advent of spring, and to my wonderful, beautiful Sonja,

Mark

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