There was a hint of something special in the air this weekend. It was the smell of The Crush, a fragrance that somehow manages to simultaneously encapsulate1 the innocence of youth and the hedonistic2 excesses of adulthood.
Ah, The Crush. It happens every year as the warm days of summer wane and the nights begin to nibble at your fingers and the tips of your ears with frosty little teeth. Well, at least it happens here in Wine Country. During this narrow window of time, vineyards throughout our valley become the foci3 of much frenzied activity as workers rush to harvest the year’s bounty of wine grapes. And for a few days the entire valley is permeated with the heady aroma of freshly-crushed grapes.
While I realize that the vast majority of these juicy little globes are destined to end up gracing the wine glass of someone over the tender age of twenty-one (I’m making assumptions here, I know), that smell nonetheless transports me back to my childhood. You see, crushed grapes don’t smell like wine (I know this may come as a surprise to some of you here). No, they smell like grape juice and purple mustaches and that stain on your best Sunday dress when you tipped your glass just a little too far and let the sweet, dark liquid dribble down your front.
There’s just something magical about The Crush. And balloons.
That’s right, if you’ll remember I promised you a few balloons. And this weekend offered a veritable plethora 4 of those as well, for my little town played host to dozens of vibrant hot air balloons and their crews for the annual Balloon Rally.
1Encapsulate. Think of those clear, cylindrical capsules full of mysterious powder, which your doctor and the pharmaceutical companies insist will make you feel so much better. Then expand this to include capsules filled with all manner of stuff. For instance, stir together a moonlit vista, a few lilting snippets of song, some tantalizing aromas, a mouth-watering array of delectable morsels, and some tender caresses. Pour it all into a minute cylinder and, Voila!, you’ve encapsulated the memory of a romantic dinner date.
2 Hedonistic. Oh yeah, that’s good. I’ll have some of that. Ooh, and a little more while I’m at it. And some of that, too. After all, if it feels good or tastes good, why say no?
3 Foci. Come on people, I’ve seen far too many references to indexes, octopuses, and vertexes these days. I know, I know, some would say it’s part of an effort to modernize the English language, but I’m not buying into that. I’m sticking to my guns on this one. So, as I see it, the plural of index is indices; the plural of octopus is octopi; the plural of vertex is vertices; and (here’s where we come full circle to where this footnote started) the plural of focus is foci.
4 Plethora. Picture stacks and stacks of something, Piñatas for example. Piñatas of every color, shape, and size. You’ve got an entire storeroom filled with Piñatas, each one stuffed with shiny little trinkets. Then, my friend, you can safely say you have a Plethora of Piñatas. Now I must hang my head in shame. I swore I would refrain from making obscure movie references, but I couldn’t stop myself. If you’ve seen The Three Amigos you know why I had to do it. And look, there’s a t-shirt!