“As I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
As I sat this morning brooding on the old, unknown landscapes of the Napa Valley, I thought of my own wonder when I first picked out the C.I.A. at the edge of the Mayacamas Mountains, in view just miles away from where I am staying. I have come a long way to this green valley, and my expectations of what I would find and what I would take back with me to New York seemed so close that I could hardly fail to grasp them.
I have less than three weeks left in St. Helena, CA before returning to Brooklyn. My arrival date of June 8th to the west coast seems all at once, a distant day in years gone by and nothing so much as the day before yesterday.
If Gatsby could put all his dreams into one Daisy, I too could fit all of my dreams into one Valley. Gatsby, however, was too late chasing a life that had already left him behind. All the pomp and circumstance in the world would not make Daisy his. This Valley, however, is still young. At the same time, wine country is full of the old ways of doing things. I run into Meyer Wolfsheims everywhere I go: “You’re very polite, but I belong to another generation,” is what Meyer says to Gatbsy and Nick before parting ways. And there is much truth in this statement with respect to the class dichotomies that are evident in Napa Valley.
I’m not quite ready to put into words what I’ve learned here, but I can tell you that I’ve stopped swimming in pools…
Every morning I look across the valley and see The Culinary Institute of America. I never imagined that my life’s work would revolve around the activities of the dinner table: Wine and Food. The C.I.A. for the longest time was a representation of the very “vast obscurity” that would be Gatsby’s demise, however lately and in my case it has come to represent that, “one fine morning—-” and many more to come.
For now, the season changes and the onset of Fall begins its careful re-touching of the valley, dotting each leaf one at a time a brilliant crimson or mauve or golden hue, the greens fading into obscurity.