Just looked out the front door, and guess what I found in my yard…
Just looked out the front door, and guess what I found in my yard…
I thought I saw them in this balmy weather — that’s right. I have to go and clean their homes. So I walked out to the North Vineyard and removed the debris from last summer that was left in two bluebird boxes on my vineyard posts. As it was such a nice day, I was brought out further into the Old and East Vineyards for a stroll. Probably half an hour later I came back closer to the bluebird boxes. I was slowly walking from vine to vine to see how they were doing. Then one moment I happened to look up to find a pair of bluebirds checking on one of the newly cleaned boxes out there. — Yes, it’s your home if you like. They saw me and paused for a while, then started to fly away as I walked closer to them. That’s OK; I will see you there this summer raising your kids again like a few years ago. — I hope.
I have my desk along the north wall of my house, and there is a window not too far from where I sit and work. I have a pair of thick curtains on all the windows in my house that I like to keep open during the day and close at sundown regardless the weather. However, when I quit using a wood-stove several years ago, I found out how drafty my house could get in winter — the massive heat of the wood-stove was covering up that fact. Naturally I started to keep the curtains closed when it was cold outside, especially the ones on the window on the north wall that was almost next to me. They didn’t quite stop all the chills, but were better than nothing. Consequently, I learned to keep this pair closed during the winter.
Though it remained relatively mild this winter, I kept the curtains on the north window closed. When the balmy weather suddenly arrived a couple of weeks ago, I stood right next to this window one morning and thought about a moment, then pulled the string to open the curtains. The light rushed in and made the whole house brighter. I could see a few starlings perching in the red maple tree next door above the Winery Barn.
I instantly recalled the kigo, a word or term that must be included to describe a season in a Japanese haiku; “Open the North Window” (if it were English) is used to indicate the haiku is about spring. They used to (or maybe even now in some regions) close up any openings, windows and sometimes doors, on the north side of their houses to prevent the winter cold to sneak in. They often literally nailed some boards to close them tight. Once the spring arrived, they went out to remove the shields that kept them warm but dark during the winter. I thought I understood their joy to let the light come in again and the relief that the bitter winter was finally over.
The vernal equinox is behind us and the sun has started his trek north to the summer solstice. There is the period every summer when the setting sun over the Lake can be seen from this north window while I sit around. That’s what, of course, I’m looking forward to now.
The first invasion of the polar vortex of the season to Northeast was taking place earlier this week. The frigid air mass travels over the open water of the Great Lakes causing the formation of significant lake effect snow bands. If you are on the leeward of this air flow, you’d be getting feet of snow in no time.
Many of you ask us how often we get buried in the deep snow after seeing our proximity to Lake Ontario while visiting our Tasting Room. The answer is “not much”; at least not as often as you might expect.
The heavy snow fall occurs most often when the air travels the longest fetch of the Lakes: longer the path, more moisture supply for the snow bands from the Lakes. Thus typically the heaviest lake effect snow episodes occur with the westerly airflow to the east of the Lakes. So for us here the lake effect snow becomes an issue when the wind direction changes more toward northwest.
This Monday the weather pattern was a textbook case of the heavy lake effect snow to the east of the Lakes behind a strong arctic cold front. I saw the Lake Ontario band over the Lake a little offshore from us with lots of whitecaps surging toward the shoreline. I turned back to the vineyards and saw the Lake Erie band above the horizon. In between there was sunshine all day long with a few stray clouds every now and then though it was windy and pretty cold.
At the end of the day the thin Crescent Moon was above the Drumlin when I walked out to pick up the day. The sun was already behind the Drumlin and the western sky was bright in the evening glow from the horizon to the mid sky. The Moon appeared to have started to be laid back — when you see a crescent moon, it looks either standing up straight in fall or laid back in spring, or in the transition phases in between. In the piercing west winds in the middle of the lake effect snow bands I was confident to have found a sign of the coming spring.
December has started out with rainy days. I see lots of birds moving around in the brush nearby so pull out my binoculars to take a peek. Believe it or not, we always have year-round Robins along this lake-shore. It is no exception today that they are there pecking on sumac and other weeds. Of course, Chickadees, Finches and Cardinals are among them, too.
trilliums at the Chimney Bluffs
“What does ‘Fialka’ mean?”
That is probably the most asked question in our tasting room for all these years. It’s a name of a flower in Slovak, as well as in many other Slavic languages, meaning “violet” in English. The original name of this wine was “Trillium” that we lost after having a trademark debate against a winery in Midwest in 1995. For the full story, click here to visit my Blog.
Today I had errands to take care of so went out for a ride. The season is still so much behind this year after having one of the coldest winters in history. But the signs of spring can be seen everywhere so as I drove by, I looked up at the hillside of the Drumlin. As I expected, there were no trillium blossoms yet, but I did see the swelling flower buds on those little plants close to the ground. Maybe we’ll start seeing the open flowers by this weekend if the warmth will really reach here.
It seems that ferns are out and growing on the hillside and the tiny yellow flowers are in bloom on witch hazels in the marsh across from the hill. — I’ve believed those are witch hazels for a long time, but I might be wrong. Every spring I think of the innocence of flowers. They bloom, fade and fall while sharing what they can be. Perhaps that’s the way I wish to be.
“Trillium” was created by the request for the sweeter styled wines, and was first released in July, 1994 when the construction of our Wine Shop was completed. Its abundant flavor of fresh grapes and mild sweeter taste gained the popularity very quickly, and it was sold out by the end of 1994.
In July 1995 a mail arrived from a winery in Midwest claiming that the name “Trillium” was theirs as they had registered that name as a trade mark of one of their wines. After a short debate we decided to change the name of this beloved wine. We asked for a suggestion of a new name for this wine through our newsletters as a form of “contest” — if we chose the name you gave to us, you’d get a free case of the wine with the new label!
During the holiday season of 1995 Fumie’s old college professor visited us with his family and one of her classmates. When he walked in, he immediately saw the bottle of Trillium on display on our tasting counter. He took it in his hands and said, “So, is this the troubled wine?” He already knew about the debate from the newsletter we’d mailed out. As soon as he said so, his cousin from Slovakia exclaimed, “Oh, that’s Fialka!” We all turned our heads toward him as the name he yelled sounded very nice for a name of the wine. We told him to officially write the name down onto a piece of paper that we had ready for the visitors to write in their suggested new names for the wine. He told us that the illustration of the trilliums on the label reminded him of the flowers they call “fialka” in Slovakia. Following spring when we had the new labels ready, he took a case of the brand new Fialka wine back home to Slovakia.
Over the years we’ve learned that “fialka” means “violet” in English, and fairly common in the Slavic languages such as Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, etc. If you have the relatives or friends who came from that direction, ask them if they know the word and its meaning. Most likely they do!
The composition of Fialka has remained basically the same over these years. Diamond contributes the abundant fresh grape taste and flavor while Catawba gives it the spiciness and good acid to counterpart the sweetness. Cayuga White then somehow mediates the entire package to the subtle mildness — that’s the way we feel. The name “Trillium” was originally chosen as the wine was a blend of these three varieties about the same portion of each.
Now you’ve got the story, so get a bottle or two to bring back home to enjoy!