The View From Up Here

This will probably be our first album cover

So many wonderful people have read and even occasionally chimed in on this blog over the years, many of you just checking in regularly, some even traveling to meet us in person, that letting go of it last year turned out to be one of the most difficult things I’ve done. Some of you will know, and others may be surprised to learn, that I stopped the blog last year as part of a larger, ultimately unsuccessful bid to become the next mayor of Omaha. My entire life, more or less, belonged to the campaign, and there was little room for writing, little room for much of anything. Zooey, now four, would complain that I was always in meetings, and to be frank it broke my heart. I lost the election in April, and spent most of this summer licking my wounds. I’m not bitter, but coming down from that experience took some time, a little therapy, and I needed a good rest. Now, heading into the fall, I’m sitting at the advent of my eighteenth year of teaching English, and I thought that perhaps the perfect compliment to my return would be to resume utilizing my writing skills in a way that brings me and, presumptively, others some joy.

It took us nearly a decade to finally take this picture

Sonja and I spent the last week between Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco with two of our best friends, relaxing, taking in the sights and, of course, tasting wine. The trip was inspirational. We climbed up to Table Rock, went kayaking on the Napa River, checked out the Castro District in SF, ate a lot of really amazing food and, of course, tasted some killer wine. In all, we visited sixteen or seventeen wineries, ate at two of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, and spent time with some of the most wonderful people in some of the most wonderful places in the world.

Veraison

Often, though not always, Sonja and I find ourselves in wine country in the winter. Our anniversary is February 16, we visited Napa and Sonoma on our honeymoon, and it’s nice to get away from Nebraska at a time when temps regularly reach ten or even twenty below zero. This trip, the weather was astonishingly good. We were outside daily. I’d run in the mornings, when it was only sixty degrees or so, and as the day warmed up we found ourselves on the patios of places such as Ridge, Beaulieu, J Vineyards, Matanzas Creek, Round Pond, Mumm, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Mayo, and others. Eating grapes off the vine gives me special pleasure, and getting to observe veraison (pictured above) felt truly special.

Cheers to you, Mr. Tchelistcheff!

I have a book coming out from Teachers College Press at Columbia University this fall. It’s about teaching about the Holocaust, titled Think Higher, Feel Deeper, after something Elie Wiesel once said to me. The book will be released October 15, and you can get a preview here if you’re so inclined: https://www.tcpress.com/think-higher-feel-deeper-9780807765975. Anyway, with that book written, I believe my next will be about wine, and specifically the Judgement of Paris that I so often write and teach about. With that in mind, I paid special attention to history on this trip, and visited a few estates whose wines were tasted in that famous tasting of 1976. I very much look forward to all of the research I’m going to need to do in order to write this book.

Creepin’ behind the wine

In all, we had a great time tasting and traveling last week, and I’m pleased to report that I’m having a good time returning to blogging as well. For the time being, with this fall promising not only more chaotic pandemic teaching, but also my obligations in coaching runners and teaching two undergraduate courses at university, I am not going to commit to much regularity, but I look forward to returning and to telling you some of the stories from our most recent trip to wine country–almost as much as I look forward to returning there again soon. I have further research to conduct, after all.

A view of the valley floor from Smith-Madrone

It was a hectic, troublesome, and frightening last year for us all, I know. I’m sorry I haven’t been present in this space for so long, and I hope you’ll welcome this little blog back into your life. If you’re still around, still reading, still interested, please know that I’d love to hear from you. I believe, in time, that I’ll be able to make it a regular part of my routine again, even while also doing so many other things and working on yet another book. For now, suffice it to say that I’m grateful to be able to take the ten-thousand foot view of things, to not have so many meetings in my life, and to be able to return to writing about wine in what I hope is a meaningful way that, if I try hard enough, may bring you, I, and others joy.

Cheers, friends, and welcome back to ITheeWine,

Mark

6 responses to “The View From Up Here

  1. Great to see you are back! Probably better that your dip into politics was unsuccessful. Now you can devote more time to wine and more pleasurable things! Stay well. Regards from North Carolina

    Liked by 1 person

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