A recent article in Condé Nast Traveler, entitled "The Case for Getting Rid of the Holiday Travel Calendar," certainly gave me food for thought. The author basically takes the opportunity to advocate for our being creative and flexible and pragmatic around the planning of pandemic family holiday get-togethers. The actual day--or even the month or season--of Thanksgiving or Christmas isn't as important, author Noah Kaufman asserts, as our commitment to get together when it is most safe and practical.
I get it. Makes sense to me.
Our family has done our absolute best to keep each other safe and sane during this crazy year. One son is currently away, having a safe (and shortened) college semester; the other three of us are here together in The Brogue, working daily to achieve a balance between care and normalcy. We keep in touch with the rest of our extended family through weekly Zooms, texts, and emails. As the year-end holidays approach, we certainly all understand that it will be the spirit of the season which matters, more than the ability to all hold hands around a feast table.
This weekend, we had the wonderful opportunity to put this flexible celebration model into practice. My beloved father, who used to live here on the winery "estate" with us in The Brogue, came and spent a wonderful (and carefully socially-distant) time with us here, taking advantage of a beautiful harvest weekend. We ate together outside, shared pantomime hugs, and enjoyed happy hour together by the fire pit. It was really great to be together--a cause for true gratitude.
I'd known, as I planned for his visit, exactly what it would be: Thanksgiving. Yep, it's not November. Yep, the rest of the family couldn't join with us this time. But four of us would be carving out a special time for fellowship, and I can't think of a better name for that than "Thanksgiving."
It makes me think of the Grinch's epiphany moment, upon realizing that Christmas is more about the spirit of the thing: "It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags"...yep.
So we did it. I happily added the trappings and trimmings of the season, spending a happy day preparing traditional Thanksgiving foods (much to my dad's surprise and delight): the turkey, the stuffing. Potatoes and cranberry sauce.
What really mattered, though, was knowing that the most important part of the tradition had already been achieved: Wherever, however, whenever, we'd honored our time together with conscious gratitude. Amen.
In a recent conversation, my friends and I talked about our methods of making bread dough. Some (including me) opined that we mostly use a dough hook on a stand-up mixer when kneading. My friend Linda chimed in that, for her, the physical act of kneading bread dough by hand is actually an essential part of her process. It's a large part of why she makes her own bread in the first place, experiencing a comforting set of sensations, from turning the ingredients into a soft dough under her own palms to the scent of the bread baking, which is honestly just about the most wonderful sense experience in the world.
Our lives are topsy-turvy. We live in isolation and under stress. "Normal" things seem to be lost to us, while fear and divisiveness seem to have become "the new normal." So many people are struggling right now.
Some days I can't seem to put all of my thoughts together in the right order. Ever since March, I have learned to diagnose this fuzzy-brained overwhelmed condition. It's not new to me, by now. I often prescribe myself an activity to offset some of the negatives. My favorite go-to activity: baking.
Baking is formulaic, but also creative. It's an act of self-care and care for others. It is built for sharing.
After thinking some more about our dough conversation, I decided to turn this week's breads into hand-kneading activities. Rather than plug in the ol' mixer, I used my hands. It was interesting how my hands always just know what to do, how much flour to add, what gestures to make. I definitely felt more connected to the process, just as Carl does in the winery when he takes on the harvest chore of punch-downs (which I wrote about in yesterday's post).
My first bread project of the week was a favorite of my son's: hamburger rolls. I use King Arthur Flour's beloved "Best Burger Buns" recipe, which makes a lovely buttery roll. It was great with burgers, but also in an egg-and-bacon-and-cheese breakfast sandwich the next morning. it was easy to knead by hand, ready for proofing in almost no time.
My second project, chosen in anticipation of an Indian feast, was my Pocket Bread. This dough felt entirely different than the bun dough--whereas that one featured butter, this one includes milk and whipped-smooth yogurt, making for a tighter, more refined feeling. Again, the kneading process was quite easy, and that dough hook remained idle.
I was actually disappointed that my next bread project of the week requires no kneading at all. This is a fascinating recipe, for several reasons. It's the New York Times recipe for "Simple Crusty Bread." It has only four ingredients--yeast, salt, water, and flour--and stays very loose, going through the proofing phase after being simply stirred together. The dough keeps well in the fridge, but takes on a life of its own when being shaped or moved--it's like some sort of living creature that can't help but permanently attach itself to everything it comes near. Whereas I couldn't wait to get my hands on the other doughs, this one can't wait to get ahold of me. Making it always becomes a slapstick routine.
Other than its sticky nature, this bread is really easy to make, and very versatile. This time I baked two of the four loaves right away, and they are destined to be in the stuffing of a special Thanksgiving-in-October meal that I'm working on.
My bake week's final recipe was a new one to me: a recipe for Angel Biscuits which I just saw in the Thanksgiving edition of the Food Network magazine. It was my first time making this hybrid of biscuits and yeast dinner rolls, and what drew me to the recipe was its hands-on components. Not only is it hand-kneaded, but no rolling pin is needed for forming and shaping the biscuits. The resulting biscuit/rolls, topped by flaky sea salt, are really wonderful: buttery and soft, while still layered and light.
My friend Linda, whom I have to thank for my hands-on breadmaking this week, spent her career teaching young children, and she made bread with those little ones time after time after time. She expresses what a wonderful activity it is for them, to knead the dough and experience all of the feels and smells. It really is an act of pure goodness, something we can definitely all use a taste of these days.
I'm pretty good at a lot of things. I can carry a tune, make art with pastels, drive across the country, order another beer in German. I tend to hold myself to a pretty high standard with most things I do, which of course can also keep me from taking part in other activities which I'm not particularly good at: gardening, running, parallel parking.
I love to cook and bake and have definitely gotten much better at these endeavors ever since a year ago August, when I made a decision to increase the quality of every bite I take/make. I can make an authentic curry and a (finally) a pancake which is memorable for all the right reasons.
I don't often fail in the kitchen.
This is probably why yesterday's bread experience came as such a shock.
I thought I had done everything just right. The intention was to recreate The Pioneer Woman's Homemade Cinnamon Bread recipe, in anticipation of our older son's quick visit home from college. The recipe has always seemed a bit odd to me, in terms of its time-frame, but I have learned to allow more time than printed for preparation, and to be rather sceptical of its 4-hour (!) rising time. I heated the milk, cooled the milk, mixed the ingredients, kneaded the dough, supervised its first long rising, shaped it into beautiful cinnamon-sugar-filled rolled logs, and put the pans in the slightly-warmed oven for a second rise.
Then I headed off to the grocery store, to gather piles of my son's favorite snacks. Maybe that's where things went wrong?
As my errands grew to take more time than anticipated, I called home to ask my younger son to take the rising loaves out of the oven and turn the oven on.
After a couple minutes, this is what he sent me:
We've debated ever since exactly what it was that I did wrong, and there are many theories floating around. It was likely some combination of time, temperature, and that Saran Wrap.
Whatever the cause, there it was: what the kids used to call an "epic fail."
Success and failure are, of course, matters of perspective. Sometimes a bigger "fail" can be more satisfying than a little one. A big blob-monster of dough might be better than a potato soup which ended up being just a little too salty or a quiche which didn't quite get set in the middle. In AJR's song "100 Bad Days," perhaps we can all relate to:
"...Maybe a hundred bad days made a hundred good stories
A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties..."
A friend on social media once recounted the story of her pickle of a morning. Rushing around, working to deal with family needs while getting ready for her work day, she somehow knocked an entire. Huge (I'm imagining Costco huge). Jar. Of ginormous dill pickles. Pickles. And brine. Out of the fridge, to shatter on the floor.
For some reason, her response to this catastrophe (which caused no cuts or bleeding), as she stood there, splattered in green pickle vinegar, pickles swimming around her feet, was to have the presence of mind to decide she basically had two options: She could either melt into a puddle of despair right along with the gherkins, or she could laugh like a madwoman. As I recall, she chose the later.
I guess this story has stayed with me because, reading her story, I'd hoped that I, too, would chose to laugh rather than to sob. I'm not much of a sobber, but...
In a world gone rather mad, some well-intentioned loaves of over-risen cinnamon bread certainly don't rank high on the list of the world's cares. Still, I do like to be able to predict success in my endeavors. And I did want to serve my "kids" the most delicious cinnamon toast comfort food the following morning.
But no matter. There I sat in the grocery store parking lot, looking at the photo. I called Dylan back. "So..." I began, "about the bread," and took a breath. "What the hell did I do..." And then I laughed, and then we did, together.
Viticulture is certainly farming, even though we tend not to call ourselves farmers. (I have heard Carl only occasionally talk about being a "grape farmer," which for some reason sounds strange...) Owning two vineyard properties, growing grapes, and turning those grapes into a consumable product does link us to our farming neighbors in many ways. In the spring of 2019 we were honored and surprised to be named York County's Outstanding Farm Family for that year.
My father's extended family in Iowa was a farming family; all four of his dad's brothers owned and worked farms there. I grew up with a deep appreciation for land and for farming. When Carl and I lived in State College and I was studying for my graduate degree, I began working at Tait Farm nearby. I did everything from picking basil, apples, and asparagus to helping bottle fruit vinegars and shrubs. When Tait's didn't have enough work for me one month, I became connected to Mount Nittany Winery, where I began working in the tasting room. Eventually Carl came on board there, became their winemaker, and the rest is our history.
Many of my fondest memories of working at Tait's were of working with my friend Sabine Carey. (I'll never forget the day I became the one and only person to ever flip the Tait Farm asparagus buggy--Sabine laughed so hard!) Sabine now runs Full Circle Farms in Penns Valley and is active in local, regional, and national organizations including Centre Markets (which could use our help currently, as they fundraise to buy a new delivery van) and Farm Aid.
Farm Aid is an amazing national organization which this year is celebrating 35 years of supporting family farms and farmers. Their annual music festival is certainly their highest-profile fundraising event, and for eight years Sabine has been one of their official photographers. I have really enjoyed seen her annual photography of Farm Aid legends such as Willie Nelson and Neil Young.
This year's Farm Aid concert will be held tomorrow evening (Saturday, September 26th) as a virtual event. The list of artists performing looks amazing.
This morning on ABC's Good Morning America, they did a nice segment about Farm Aid and a focus on small family farms. They produced some nice storytelling and a performance of the song "Colors" by Eric Burton and Jack Johnson.
Thanks to Sabine, who rounded up photos from family farmers whom she knows, Carl and I got to play a tiny part in the photo montage which played during the song. If you watch the song (which I recommend, because it's very cool), right near the end you'll see a split-second shot showing our photo on the screen outside the Times Square Studios.
So...we're not exactly famous, but we are happy to do whatever we can to support Farm Aid and the other wonderful family farmers who provide food--and wine--to their communities.
Social media reminded me today of what I was doing exactly four years ago. Turns out I was cataloguing photos from our trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. On this particular day in 2016, I was curating photos of one of the most amazing birds I've ever seen, and one I'm sure I had never before know existed: the lilac-breasted roller. It is an incredibly vibrant, colorful, and unreal creature.
Seeing pix of this amazing bird today filled me with nostalgia. It doesn't even seem real, that we ever got the chance to travel to such amazing places to see such awe-inspiring things. It made me feel both grateful for those opportunities and anxious to know if and when we'll get to go so far again.
I have loved birds my entire conscious life. I remember sitting in my closet (?!) for hours as a kid, poring over my Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds. I would draw some of the birds and just wonder over others, earmarking some for particular consideration: the scarlet tanager, the cedar waxwing, the painted bunting, the snowy owl.
A lot of my interest in the subject came from, and was much later reawakened by, my mom's younger brother: Uncle Dale. He's a bit of a myth in and of himself. When we'd visit him in Canada when I was a kid, I was entranced by the fact that chickadees in his yard would come right up and land in his hand in order to receive sunflower seeds. Decades later, I've had the pleasure of accompanying him on two successful quests to see the last of my top four childhood wish birds: the snowy owl.
I have had many many opportunities to photograph incredible birds in the past five or so years. I go to Conowingo Dam--just 45 minutes away--to see bald eagles quite often, and photographing them has given me the training to catch wonder in the air and just above the water. I've also traveled as far and as widely as I can manage, getting the chance to see a lovely variety of warblers and raptors, chickadees and cranes, from many corners of our country and others.
So...back to today. There I was, feeling all nostalgic about the past and the birds which I have gotten to opportunities to see. To combat the blahs, I decided to head out toward the vineyards in The Brogue, to see what I would see within the space of just one hour. Then magic happened.
My eyes were quickly drawn to some of the endposts in the vineyards, where interesting birds were landing. I crept closer to investigate, and realized that, in a certain corner of the vineyard, we had a coming-together of incredible birds species: multiple American kestrels, northern flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and blue jays. I have no idea why these four strong species were co-existing in this particular corner for this particular time, but it made for some incredible bird-watching. I saw kestrels and flickers squabble; I saw them make amends.
Later, as I've got the chance to look through the photos that I took during this hour, I've realized how incredible each of these local bird species actually is.
American kestrels: These are on my current top-five list of super-cool birds. These tiny and colorful falcons can hover, perch, and claw their way into my heart every time. Thanks to our friend Scott, who built kestrel boxes into the vineyard years ago, I get to see these beauties every year.
Northern flickers: These woodpeckers, when you really take the time to look at them, look like a species formulated by a committee whose members have imbibed some odd drug. From their blue eyeshadow and red crowns to their polka-dot coats to their yellow-backed tailfeathers, they certainly seem like anomalies. Whatever. They make themselves right at home.
Red-Bellied Woodpeckers: These gregarious birds show up often in our trees and at our feeders. The red on their heads would seem to be a better marker for nomenclature, but occasionally we do also get a glimpse of their namesaked belly color.
Blue Jays: These are busy birds. They are social, loud, opinionated, and gorgeous. I aspire to achieve their level of we've-got-this-ness.
So...well, lucky me. The thing that I most crave--an ongoing connection to nature and its creatures--is to be found right here at home. I feel these blessings. I see this beauty, and I honor it.
John Crouch, the winemaker from whom Carl and I bought Allegro Winery back in 2002, was quite an amazing person. In addition to his winemaking, he was an accomplished music composer and food and wine aficionado.
John kept his house here on the winery property by subdividing the property at the time of sale. So he was very much a part of our lives and the continuing work of the winery until his too-soon death in the spring of 2003, at the age of only 55.
John, Carl, and I shared many a happy hour together down at the winery deck here in The Brogue. John would also invite us to his house to listen to his music compositions (through an electronic MIDI) or to have supper. We'd talk about poetry and writings, food, wine, and his beloved Westie, Dudley.
On one memorable occasion, John showed me how to make gnocchi here in his kitchen. While I really enjoyed cooking, I'd never tried my hand at fresh pasta. I saw how fun and easy it was to make, and how the texture made the pasta such a perfect cradle for the simple marinara. Perfectly delicious.
My big culinary project yesterday was to create an Olive Garden-style supper, just for fun. I used every pot, pan, and measuring cup in my kitchen. John's kitchen! Yes--Carl and I now live in the house that used to be John's. After he passed away, our friends Margaret and Scott purchased his house, since Carl and I had already built our own up near the vineyard. After Margaret and Scott moved away, my parents bought the house and we spent several glorious years living here in a three-generation estate, in houses across the field from each other. When my folks moved back to State College (my hometown) two years ago, we swapped houses, turning our "old" house into a rental property and moving into John's old house, which had been dramatically renovated during my folks' tenure here.
All of that background is here just to show the path leading up to yesterday, when I found myself making gnocchi in this kitchen for the second time. It took me right back to that wonderful supper with John and Carl.
In addition to the gnocchi with a spicy tomato cream sauce, I made a whole feast of other recipes culled from Olive Garden copycats found on the web: air-fryer mushroom ravioli with marinara, chicken parmesan with penne and cream sauce, well-dressed iceberg lettuce salad, and -- of course -- breadsticks brushed with butter, garlic, and Italian seasoning. We paired the feast with Allegro's 2019 Dry Rosé.
I enjoy reflecting back on all of the wonderful meals which have come out of this very same kitchen: John's homemade pasta, Margaret's homemade pizza, my mom's incredible mac 'n cheese. My family and I have been so fortunate to share the table with all of them, right here at home.
Friends of Allegro Winery, especially those who buy wine by the case, have surely seen our tagline, which appears on those cases: "Drink Like You Live Here." Maybe people instinctively know what this means, and it certainly can have different connotations for different people. This will be my first post giving some perspective on the phrase, with more to follow.
This week's perspective comes from a classic movie, and from butterflies.
Who can forget Robin Williams' voice, playing the character of John Keating in Dead Poets Society, admonishing his teen students to "Carpe Diem": "Seize the day, boys." And, quoting poet Robert Herrick:
Gather ye Rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to day,
To morrow will be dying.
This sentiment of seizing days is relevant to what it means to "drink like you live" at Allegro.
Carl's sentiment about drinking great bottles of wine is one I've heard him express whenever someone says that they are holding on to a nice wine "for a special occasion." He tends to turn the sentiment around, asking, "Why not make a special occasion by opening that bottle today?"
There are certainly notable wines, including several of Carl's, which do develop and improve with age, but for the most part wines are best consumed earlier rather than later, today rather than tomorrow.
Seize the cork! Share special wines every day! Drink like you live here.
And...about the butterflies?
How do butterflies drink? Well, they sip, but they really also seem to sip everything, tasting so many vibrant colors and nectars. I like learning from them.
And, on Tuesday I felt a kind of "Gather ye butterflies while ye may" moment.
Thanks to this summer's zinnias, we have had an incredible summer of butterfly-watching, right here near the vineyards in The Brogue. I've seen more butterflies, and a greater variety of butterflies, than in any other year, and I've made a point of spending time in appreciation of their beauty.
Tuesday I had a kind of melancholic thought. I often celebrate firsts and first visits--the first indigo bunting of the spring, the first monarch sighting of the year--but can never really know which days will bring lasts. Hindsight is 20/20 (and what a 2020 we are having!)--often, only later do we recognize that what we once had has now flown. Who could know which butterfly visit will be the last of the summer? When will the monarch migration begin? Somehow I knew that day was close.
I spent a couple hours photographing as many butterflies as I could--there were still so many! Monarchs and swallowtails, cabbage whites and buckeyes. Those wonderful zinnias made for many very colorful vignettes. I tried to take in as much as I could.
And then--I shared them. On Wednesday I sent butterfly photos to dozens of friends, some people who I still see quite often, some whom I haven't seen in years. I sent them along, just to share the wonder and to give a bit of unexpected brightness to people's weighed-down lives.
And here's the crazy thing: On our rather dreary Thursday, I looked out to the zinnias, and the butterflies were gone. With the exception of the cute little skippers, there were no butterflies to be seen. Not one monarch, not one swallowtail, not one fritillary. Their time had come and gone, just like that. I'm so glad that this time I made a record of it happening.
So: Cheers to gathering rose-buds, popping corks, sipping as many experiences as possible, recognizing beauty where it lives, and sharing wonder with others today.
Drink like you live here.
What a summer we have had! Rather than traveling to distant places, we've spent the whole summer together here at home. Being home, I've appreciated all of the nature and wildlife which surround us here next to the vineyards in The Brogue. I have been much more deliberately aware of all of these treasures than ever before.
One very special kind of visitor to our place every summer are ruby-throated hummingbirds. We put the feeders out for them every year and keep the sweet food in those feeders (a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar) well supplied.
This year our first hummingbird visitor was a female who showed up in mid-May. She had a preference for sitting on the fence right outside my office window, so I had many great opportunities to observe and photo her up close.
Midsummer, the hummingbird sightings continued, both at our feeders and among the garden flowers, particularly the zinnias. It was always females or juveniles that I spotted. Any day that I took the time to record a certain bird hovering over a bright bloom was a good day.
At this point in the year, turning the page into the next season, I start wondering when our hummingbird friends will take leave and head south again. Knowing that their sojourn will be finite makes me appreciate the times when I do still see them.
Today was quite remarkable, actually, in terms of my time with these birds. I spent a while this morning watching one bird with a single jewel in its gorget. Even though there wasn't much sunlight, every once in a while, while this one darted around the honeysuckle blossoms, there would be a little sparkle of gold.
And finally, this drizzly afternoon, I had a moment which I've been hoping for, for years: a chance to watch a fully-throated male sipping at the feeder. I'm not sure exactly why the males always have seemed to elude me, at least until now.
This boy actually came right up to our living room picture window and stared me right in the face while hovering. "Come on out," he seemed to be saying. "Here I am. I'll stick around for a bit." Sure enough, because I took the time to go and watch, I was rewarded with a lovely couple of visits.
I always think that we must seem so ponderously slow to hummingbirds, who move and sip and have heartbeats so much faster than our own. They aren't engineered to be able to do something as slow as walk; we aren't engineered to see them as anything other than tiny darting wonders.
Thank you, summer, for bringing our two worlds together, if only for a while.
When Allegro's first vines were planted, Carl was 3 years old and I was 2. When John and Tim Crouch put together their first commercial vintage here, Carl was 10 and I was 9. And here we are, 40 years later, finding ourselves in our own 20th vintage at this special place. Who could have imagined?
As Carl and Nelson and the vineyard crew gear up for Allegro's harvest, I am undertaking my own sort of harvest. As the steward of Allegro's archives, I'm starting the rewarding task of looking through the documents of these past 40 years and sharing Allegro's history. I have started posting some historical treasures under the "Allegro Story" page here.
I come by an interest in history honestly. My dad's dad read history voraciously, and my dad has worked on several historical projects, including his 2016 book about a nearby Quaker meetinghouse and cemetery, for which I provided the photography.
Allegro's history is an interesting one. While the winery was quite small when Carl and I joined it in 2001, it had already garnered attention for the quality of the dry wines grown from its vinifera grapes, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon. Allegro was unusual from the beginning, since the property was originally chosen by Bill Radomsky specifically because of its suitability for growing European-style wines. John was also a pioneering winemaker.
Interestingly, Allegro's biggest claim to fame through the years has been the old story about its "Opus 1" wine. I recently put together some of the documentation of this story, which occurred in the fall of 1983.
In a nutshell, the "Opus 1" story involves the fact that John and Tim had a peach-and-white-grape formula wine (similar to our current-day Celeste) which they, as musicians, named "Opus 1." In 1983, Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild were gearing up to begin their hugely expensive and prestigious collaborative wine and winery, named "Opus One." When John read James Laube's article in Wine Spectator with the announcement of the name, he wrote a letter to Laube, followed up by a phone call, in which he told him about the doubling of the name.
Laube got a kick out of the "David vs. Goliath" aspect of the story about the tiny PA winery and the huge California enterprise. He wrote another article for Wine Spectator documenting the story of the two names, entitled "A tale of two Opus Ones."
Things were eventually ironed out between the two wineries and Allegro, in return for giving up the name, received a small sum of money, which was enough for Allegro to buy a new corker and to put in a bridge in the driveway leading up to the winery, spanning our small creek. As Carl noted in his 2009 blog post about the Opus Ones, Mondavi was also supposed to come to Allegro and taste John's wines--not just the peach but his beloved Cabs--but never did.
Along with the winery and vineyards, Carl and I inherited the "Opus One" corker and the "Opus 1 Memorial Bridge," as well as all of the accompanying stories.
My part in the story comes from March of 2003. John Crouch, who had sold Allegro to us after his brother's death at the end of 2000, passed away quite suddenly at the age of 55. He had remained living in his house here on the winery property, and his friendship with Carl and me was a very special part of our lives for that brief overlapping time that we spent here together.
Just a couple days after John died, I got a call at the winery from "Jim Laube, from Wine Spectator magazine." I couldn't believe it--the same renowned journalist who had written the Opus 1/One tale 20 years earlier was calling because he had heard about John's passing and wanted to send along his condolences. Here I was, here with my toddlers in my living room in our house near the vineyards, talking with the famous California wine writer. We talked about John and Allegro, and his interest was really wonderful. He ended up writing one more article for Wine Spectator, noting John's death and his place in the wine world: "The Spirit of Allegro Vineyards."
In another very sweet gesture, Laube also sent me the original of John's letter from 1983.
I took a look at that original letter this morning and thought a lot about John, Allegro, and the importance of harvesting history. It's humbling to hold the task, but I'm so happy to have the opportunity.
Cheers to you,
My camera gives me a lot of joy and a wonderful way of seeing. In the Age of Travel I got to go many places and photograph landscapes and wildlife. In these days of COVID, while the travel plans are on hold, I have actually found that I'm taking far more photos than I ever have before. Spending time looking at what's around us here in the vineyards of southern PA makes me even more appreciative of our stewardship of Allegro.
Over the course of a day, depending on what's going on, I tend to shift among four different lenses for my camera. Taking one day as an example, I'll show you what I mean. Early on Monday, I had on my regular lens, which lets me zoom in a bit, back away a bit, and generally get a pretty accurate view of what I regularly see. Using this lens, I photoed a cool moth on my window.
Heading outside later in the morning, I switched to my basic zoom lens, one I bought almost ten years ago when my son and I were heading to experience a safari in South Africa. With this lens, I caught my tallest blooming sunflower and the arrival of one of my favorite butterflies in the garden: the common buckeye. I also caught a goldfinch in the act of dismantling a zinnia blossom.
Mid-afternoon, when our dog started crawling under the bed, I knew that a thunderstorm must be on its way. Looking outside and seeing the dark clouds approaching, I immediately grabbed my camera and switched to the wide angle lens. I was going to have a lot to take in.
Finally, as the sun was setting, I realized I needed to shift back to my basic lens again, to catch the vineyard and the amazing clouds in the late-day light.
So there it was: my Monday, as seen through four different lenses. I saw things clearly, then closely, then in a much bigger picture, then with real insight, and--finally--clearly again.
I know that this kind of vision-switching is the same kind of thing that Carl does when thinking about Allegro's vines or wines or way ahead. Sometimes it's the leaf on the vine in front of us which needs immediate attention; sometimes we have to pan back and get a much bigger perspective on where we're headed. I'm really grateful for the tools we have that let us envision the way.