Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Soulful Journey: Le Vignoble


The vineyard has symbolic meaning in many religions.  I won't get into them, but will show you how it influences my artistic perspective.


In my early 20s I lived a corralled life, having grown up in a strict religion and attending my earliest college years in Utah. I was given a rare opportunity in Berkeley, CA.  The day the first Gulf War broke out on January 16, 1991, I arrived on campus and underwent orientation.  That night, from my room above Liberty Square--a BART substation--I watched the street fill with protesters. 



Over the next couple of years in California, as I attended school and worked at Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore laboratories (both as a student and post graduate employee) I gradually fell in love with the unfortunately expensive, but progressive, almost nonlinear Bay Area.


Years later, after a marital break-up, in 2007, I returned to the area. Fairly low on funds and alone, I found my vacation both educational and restful, despite traveling well over 500 miles in a few days from Berkeley and San Francisco to Yosemite, and then to Napa and exiting by Oakland.  



I arrived at Napa just at sunrise, having left Yosemite after dusk the night before and drove most of the night away to capture the rising sun on le vignoble.  I slept only about three hours that night, on a deserted roadside, and I groggily, gladly awakened to beautiful scenes in the quiet hills of Napa Valley.  I only had the morning, as I would drive to Oakland to catch my flight that afternoon.


In autumn 2007 I learned for the first time that grapes become translucent marbles in the infrared, even though they appeared dark burgundy to my eyes.  The invisible--almost x-ray--soft diffuse glow within each grape warmed and brightened me.



The unseen luminescence transmitted through them reminded me of those moments in life that I've caught a glimpse of something deeper, indiscernible and profound.  Rays caught the webs of a spider and the sun starred between the fist-sized white leaves.  I felt connected.


A decade later, as I revisit my archive of photos from that short vacation, I feel drawn to that past again. As if pushing through a shadowy forest clearing into the well kept rows and life sublime of nostalgic years gone.




Those opalescent grapes, white textured leaves, soft pasture and deep skies are a refuge that seems fantasy now.  I fear the environment may not long support these moments in our future.



I feel melancholy writing this.  I want to remain optimistic. Believe in a future for my own children.  Hope that our efforts can sway the public to preserve our world.  The direction is clear and given by science but sometimes corralled fears keep us from moving along the rows and forward.



As aesthetically pleasing as black and white photos can be, truth is not black and white.  Data driven science and facts are colorfully complicated. 



The translucent grapes hold seed pods inside.  That little secret can be seen with unseen radiance.  Our eyes cannot tell what our mouths may crunch.  But before we bite we can use science to reveal what lies beneath.



Our homes, our lives and our future depends on us being vigilant and careful.  Using facts measured and scrutinized over and over as compared with feelings given us by tradition can yield dependable results.



It may be too late to naturally fix nature, but we could develop technologies to save it for our descendants.  It is the entrepreneurial garages and laboratories of science which create technologies from the unseen.  Dogmas have no laboratories, only belief systems of opinion.  There is a big difference in pretend and unseen.  One is still real, the other just wishful.  Both can create wonderful art, but it is in the lab where facts and fantasy are sorted out.  Dogmas and politics have no laboratories.



The unseen that is measured, categorized, verified and organized into cohesive science can actually produce results that benefit humanity--against its selfish predilections.  We grab and eat until all is consumed.


I wonder what is at the end of the row in my life.  Nah, that's a long way off, right?



Le Vignoble is fertile and yields abundance of pleasure and art for me.  Protests, learning, adaptation, conservationism and peace all have a place among the grapes.


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