Last night, Friday night, I was with my Cross Country team at the home of one of our runners, eating pasta. One of my students played the piano and sang while we ate, and my son happily entertained himself with the dinosaurs and cars our host had thoughtfully provided for him. I spoke for the longest time I have been able to make with our exchange student from Italy, and I learned a lot from and about him. After eating, I stood talking with some of the parents about what an amazing group of kids these were — and about how tired we all were after a long week. Sometimes when practice ends, I just want to go home, but then I think about these wonderful gatherings, the togetherness of our team and how meaningful that can be — especially in your teens, and its very little sacrifice to spend an hour or two longer away from home, especially when Titus gets to be there eating pasta with us.
After the team meal, I came home and got to work on the ribs. I went to the cellar to grab the wine I’ll pair with barbecue for lunch tomorrow, a special occasion as some very good friends of Sonja and mine are making the drive from Lincoln to eat and watch the Huskers with us. Having put the kids to bed, Sonja joined me for a moment in the kitchen as I removed the silver skin from the ribs and began massaging tenderizer, salts, and spices into the fatty meat. I could have been in bed just then, but standing at the kitchen island listening to Hamilton and drinking a terrific glass of wine was little sacrifice, knowing that we’d have a couple massive racks of ribs to share on game day tomorrow. Go Big Red.
The wine I was drinking was a Grenache that Sonja and I had purchased on a trip to Napa back in 2016. I was once in love with the producer, Orin Swift, the brainchild of master winemaker Dave Phinney, though recently the label was sold and I’m far less enthused about upcoming vintages. That said, this bottle, the 2014, was still the work of Dave’s own hand, and it shows. Hyperbolic is a word I often use to describe Dave’s wines; they are the opposite of subtle, yet this is sort of an amazing thing. This wine, a Spanish varietal that smacks of Californian terroir, is an example of such hyperbole at a whopping 15.2%. Housed in a port wine bottle with a photograph of the winemakers’s uncle as a boy on the label, it’s not your usual bottle of Grenache, yet the undeniable chocolatey smoothness and pronounced presence of oak imparted upon layer after layer of rich black fruit make it impossible not to enjoy. Later, laying in bed watching The Office (we’re on season seven now), I asked Sonja, whose superior palate always helps me formulate my thoughts, “What does this wine taste like to you?” She looked over at me coyly, “Grenache,” was all she replied, her smile the only subtlety on either of our lips.
I haven’t been a very good blogger, lately, as many of you will know. Being the head cross country coach takes a ton of time, as does teaching both high school and university classes. I’m behind on a few writing deadlines at the moment, but by and large I’ve managed to keep up so far, the frequency of my blog posts being one of the casualties. Last night, getting to bed at a reasonable hour, I set my alarm quite a bit earlier than I might have needed to for our seven thirty arrival time at the meet this morning. Then this morning I got up, brushed my teeth, and made myself a bowl of oatmeal with apricots and almond milk and a nice cup of coffee. Then I brought those things up to my office and sat down to write a blog for you. Being the only one awake in my peaceful house before the sun came up, I’ve enjoyed putting my thoughts down again for those of you who read them. Indeed, it was little sacrifice.
Cheers to the things we do because we love to do them,