My friend was incredulous. Did you say you went on vacation? Did you really use that word?
She had reason to be shocked. For nearly 30-years the only days off I took were the random day or two when traveling, or when I was able to pinch a long weekend. It was all I could manage financially and emotionally. Vacation was a word that was not in my vocabulary.
As a freelancer, envied by employed friends around the world for my 'freedom,' they never truly appreciated how 'un-free' a free-lance writer can be. Yes, I was free to have my own opinions. I was free to be more political and critical than salaried colleagues (is the wine critic the only genre of pundit that is a cheerleader instead of an informed commentator?).
The idea of taking off time, in the end, was far more anxiety-inducing than staying in the chair and pounding out the words.
But the past three years were particularly brutal. And by the end of July when my first draft of the next book was sent in to my editor, I was barely able to grunt. The experience left me feeling trampled by pack of rats and as bloodless as a leftover meal stuck in a web. I determined that I would never write another wine book again. And what's more, I would take a break. Burned out? I was wearing that old dead cat on my chest, still with it's claw and scratch. I could avoid a break no longer, or I would crack in pieces.
Not totally able to leave obligation behind, I lined up a few book events (hey, they are fun, after all), rented a car and headed north to claim it. (Fun tip for New Yorkers, take the train to Hudson and rent from there, about a fifth of the price.)
Me and a car and a road.
Six gorgeous days from Saugerties, to Hudson, to the angel bosom of Vermont.
Want to come with me? Here, take a look.
The next day a little lunch at Fish & Game. Curious about it? It's stellar. Here are bloody mary tomatoes. Heaven. And yes, there's what to drink by the glass and bottle. They're committed to the good stuff.
The next day, For the Love of Wine event at Hudson Wine Merchants. Packed house. Good ego booster.
Went out to Worthy Burger (no, I did not, in fact, but opted for smoked blue fish pizza, bizarre but delish). Somewhere in the night, this happened, I picked it up from Hudson. It's worthy. Trust me.
A wine from the late Baldo's hands. 2004 Nebbiolo recently bottled.
Next day, some hikes with old friends, some fresh laid eggs from Deidre's gorgeous picnic, some cider with new friends and the La Garagista goes to Georgia dinner.
Deirdre's husband and life and work partner, the talented Caleb used recipes from For the Love of Wine. They worked! The food that he improvised was also so very Georgian. We snuck in a little La Garagista Night Music, rare (field blend from the Home Vineyard, vibrant wine) and crab apple pink and rosé delicious.
The next day to the vines, more cider, Shacksbury! Fable Farm! More vines, sunset and capped off with a dinner, which is absolutely perfect, at Hen of the Woods, Burlington with Deirdre, Caleb and toasting to the new life of Vermont wines.
Somewhere along the way I saw a shooting star of my dreams and a furry bear scampering off in the woods. I felt like a Fresh Air Fund kid.
The morning of my departure, I started out south in the still cool.
The drive down the small winding roads, was so heart- bleedingly beautiful, I couldn't be sorry to leave the hills where the vines started to thrive. I was returning to reinvent freedom and embrace it with new energy.