• Last modified 908 days ago (Dec. 29, 2016)


Another Day in the Country

An opulent celebration

© Another Day in the Country

Whenever I return to Napa Valley, the place I called home for more than 30 years, I’m struck by the opulence of the place.

Prices send me into a tailspin. Everything costs more. Gasoline is the first thing that catches my eye, and as soon as I walk into a food store it’s eggs.

We sometimes chuckle at the price of my home-grown, organic, happy chicken eggs when I tally up the cost of mash and scratch grain for a month.

Jess chides, “Your eggs are the most expensive in the county,” because I spoil my chickens. I get half a dozen eggs a day during prime season and use two or more bags of feed at $15 a pop to get that result. Of course feeding is continual; eggs, not so much.

The California price index has the very cheapest eggs — from grouchy hens, I’m sure — costing at least $4 a dozen and averaging out at $5.

Decorations for Christmas in California are opulent. Not often on the Kansas prairie do you see whole trees covered in lights, with trunks completely encased and branches outlined. Here in Napa Valley whole lanes of trees are covered like that.

My favorites are the palm trees in front of Sutter Winery, where every single palm frond is outlined. Between Napa and St. Helena is a winter wonderland of Christmas decorations.

Sunshine is opulent in Napa Valley. Light pours down across the hillsides every morning, reflected off sparkling dew, hanging-like diamonds on trees. Greenery still in evidence adds to the effect. 

This is the rainy season. In Napa Valley, even winter rain is opulent. It comes as never-ending drizzle or a ceaseless drenching that goes on and on like a waterfall.

Kansas rain comes and goes at the whim of every storm front and wind current. One minute we have sunshine and the next rain, and everyone asks, “How much rain did you get?” In California, once the drought ended, they were on to other topics, although my 9-year-old grandson, who is standing nearby, critiquing my column as I write, informs me that the drought is NOT over!

While our home is simple, here in California there is an extravagance of windows, and every view is full of trees, with opulent spring grass growing underneath. Green is everywhere.

Christmas was opulent for my grandson, Dagfinnr, who got a little robot called Cozmo. Dagfinnr has encouraged me to be amazed at what Cozmo can do. I’m not.

“What can you do with him?” I ask. “What is he good for?”

My grandson defends this extravagant gift by saying that Cozmo can learn to talk and actually has artificial intelligence.

While my grandson is absorbed with his high-tech world, I’m wanting him to see the extravagance of life itself, in its most simplistic form, like sun, fresh air, endless greenery, rain, and time itself.

To me, in the last chapter of my life trilogy, time is the most extravagant gift of all — something a 9-year-old won’t appreciate probably, until he’s much older. But as I look ahead to 2017, I wish you all, dear readers, the extravagant opulence of 365 days filled with health and memories worth recalling on another day in the country.

Last modified Dec. 29, 2016