Saturday, March 6, 2010

the party, part one

 photos by Edie Crocker

Where to begin? It begins with a storm. I find that most good parties do. The snow started on a Tuesday, soft and rather innocent. Nothing serious. The weather report called for three to six inches. Even though it was snowing hard by Wednesday morning, we didn’t think anything of it. The snow was needed. We were almost down to bare ground after a January thaw and rain. We thought of those young grapes vines and the flower garden, a bedful of sweet carrots, and how they needed that blanket of protection against the winds that whip down off the top of the Chateauguy above us. We went about our morning enjoying a fire in the woodstove and watching the snow come down. We were busy cleaning house as we were planning a dinner party here at home for Sunday night. Usually we’re open on Sunday nights at the restaurant, but we had the opportunity to fete one of our favorite American winemakers, Randall Grahm, and the release of his new book. Because of arcane distribution agreements and various other complications, the dinner could not take place at the restaurant if we wanted to be able to enjoy a handful of Randall’s wines along with the festivities. We are practiced at entertaining fairly large groups of people at home, but that is usually outside in the summer months. Our house, fondly referred to as a cottage, is really the size of a pocket watch, or what would be called a generous Manhatten apartment.

So plans were set in motion to host twenty people for dinner. Hence the house cleaning, organizing, planning, and not paying attention to the weather. By lunch it was clear the snow predictions were somewhat “off”, as about a foot had already fallen. We couldn’t resist the temptation to go out and play. On snowshoes, we looped around our hill, and down into the vineyard to check the vines. They were so well buried I couldn’t even dig down to find the small hardened-off shoots. When we came back inside, the electricity went out and the sun was going down. The rest of our cleaning endeavors would be postponed. We lighted the candles and contemplated what to do with the forty-five minutes available on our laptop computer’s battery. My laptop, the one with the more stalwart battery, had just gotten a nasty virus that morning, and would do nothing but tell us it was under attack and then proceed through a litany of XXX sites as if it berating us with foul language.

The evening was quiet. We couldn’t hear our little under the counter refrigerator in the kitchen humming away, and the radiators didn’t clank on, the pipes filling with hot water and sounding like we were a ship on the sea. The snow muffled everything by taking the source of our everyday noise. After our eyes were too tired to continue reading by candlelight, we fell asleep, sure that the lights would come back on in the morning.


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