Friday, October 19, 2012

Napa in October

October Day in Napa

It's warm, humid, cloudy today. That Napa in October - the best month to be here. I'm thinking about what it might be like to move to another US city or to Europe for my work and what I would miss if I left. To put the idea of relocating into perspective, today I thought I would tour my neighborhood as a photojournalist or "culturista" (cultural tourist). I've lived in Napa county for the past 10 years - in Carneros, to be exact. Carneros is a region of Napa that originally was mostly ranches and fruit orchards, but now is renowned for its champagne grapes (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). You can still see horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, coyotes, and even the occasional mountain lion. But as the land is rapidly being converted into vineyards for local wineries, the small farms disappear and are replaced by residential properties of about 2 to 8 acres interspersed amongst the vineyards and wineries. Here is a microclimate as the temperatures are cooler than surrounding areas which makes it a desirable locale not only for champagne grapes but also for bicyclists.

What I would miss about Napa should I move away is the peacefulness. Mostly because I have not experienced living without the noise of traffic since moving to California many years ago. Noise-wise, Napa is more akin to what I am accustomed to growing up in the southeastern United States -  but weather-wise, the Carneros region of Napa is quite different. Mornings in Carneros are have no wind and there is rarely a sound except for the occasional tractor. At 7:00 a.m. the air is cool and I can barely see through the fog. Around 9:00 a.m., it looked as though a storm front was brewing. From noon onward, it has been nothing but clear skies and bright sun with a perfect temperature of 72 degrees. This afternoon around 4:00 p.m. the winds will arrive, strong enough to blow a bottle off the table. In Carneros, we have what I call "diversity of weather".  In one 12-hour period we can have fog, rain storms, clear bright sun for several hours, strong winds, and a starry, clear night sky. My favorite weather in Carneros is cold and misty. I like to heat the house from the fireplace and have a cup of hot tea with honey. From where I live I can smell the salty sea air coming off the Napa River a mile down the road.  I find that food seems to taste better when the air is cool and humid and, when I smell salty sea air, I am inspired to bake bread and make chicken soup.

Carneros was once considered the "B neighborhood" full of old and neglected properties. Our little house was once one of those neglected properties not much unlke the tear-downs you see in this slideshow. We renovated it ourselves and although it is an ongoing effort, have made it into a nice little country cottage. It is a creative lifestyle to live in the country, in a house that you built, growing organic veggies, and supporting the local vendors.

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