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Geyserville Grapevine - deTraci Regula - January 2016

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Geyserville Grapevine - deTraci Regula - January 2016

The grape leaves have dropped from the vines along Route 128, abruptly leaving the bare wintry vines and the spindly branches of the plum trees lining part of the route. While this season is less colorful than the time of turning leaves, it has a more austere, stark beauty offset by the rapidly greening earth. We have some of the color of spring but the temperatures of winter. 

Driving back from Calistoga recently, I saw something unexpected, a swirl of oily smoke in the grey sky. After the season of fires – and smelling smoke in Calistoga earlier – I feared that, despite the recent rains, something new was on fire. Yet this “smoke” seemed different – jet black, moving quickly in swirls that looked like what comes off my calligraphy brush when I dip it into a clear glass of water, sometimes even seeming that the source must be projectiles of some sort with black vapors trailing off of them. It was unnerving to glimpse this swirling smoke as I drove, because it didn’t seem to be behaving like smoke. I thought I was observing some bizarre wind phenomenon or even some inexplicable cosmic event. Finally, the road curved and I found myself closer to the “smoke” – which wasn’t smoke at all but a massive whirling flock of starlings, thousands of them, diving and twisting, briefly forming complex shapes in the sky, then scattering. I drove more carefully, wondering if part of this huge flock might dip and dive across the winding road, thick enough to be blinding. Should I turn on my windshield wipers ahead of an unavoidable impact? I was not being paranoid – last year hundreds of starlings littered 101 between Healdsburg and Geyserville, victims of an encounter with a semi truck which had driven through a low-flying flock at high speed. But nearing Geyserville after the turn at the Medlock-Ames winery, I stopped at the side of a vineyard and tried to catch the acrobatic birds on my cell phone video, but the show was over. The birds seemed to calm and behave as just a flock of birds again, huge but not so disturbing – or fascinating. 

Upcoming Events in Geyserville

Other fascinating phenomena coming up in the Geyserville area include the annual Black and White Ball held at the Oddfellows Hall on New Year’s Eve. This event may sell out. Contact Cosette at Hope-Merrill House bed and breakfast via email moreinfo@hope-inns.com for more information and tickets.  

A new hopefully annual upcoming event is the Beer Fest at the Geyserville Grille on February 6th. This event runs from 1pm to 5pm and will feature a number of local breweries offering their best beers. Fun beer-friendly foods will also be on offer for the day, and visitors can enjoy watching the day’s sporting events on the big screens in the bar area. This event will happen rain or shine. Tickets are $20 and include entry, a special commemorative tasting glass, and three beer tasting tickets and one free “bite”, with more beer and food available at a small extra fee. Call the Geyserville Grille at the Geyserville Inn for ticket information at (707) 857-4343 http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/cms/pages/contact-us-en.html.

Foodie Moment of the Month

Speaking of the Geyserville Grille, my most memorable mouthful in Geyserville this month was the Tortilla Soup at the Grille. Is there an award for best soup in Geyserville? I’m making one up now – and I’m giving it to the Grille. On a cool December afternoon, it was hot and flavorful, thick with chicken, and with a rich warm orange color that helped stave off the chill of the day all by itself. It’s available by the cup or the bowl – but honestly, be bold and skip the cup. You’ll want the whole bowl.