Have you ever experienced moments when you look forward, and also to the past, and have been seeing the space between them compressing? Did the 1950’s exist, or are they a history that you didn’t really experience, like the 1940’s or the 1930’s or renaissance Italy? Or ancient Rome?
All through this time grapes grow, wine is made. I read of a time, 4,500 years ago, about the winemakers who traded with the Egyptian rulers. This area, Northern Sinai, had a period of 200 years when they did a lot of business with the Nile leaders. Imagine, 8 generations or winemaking, just how good they could have gotten at making wine great. Passing along information, sharpening their skills, improving their winemaking, and handing it over to the next generation. I would love to have tasted those wines. Or maybe I did.
Now, the 1960’s don’t seem so far away, just a generation ago. It was the beginning of a move towards living lighter off the land, more in harmony with nature, what we presently call living with a smaller carbon footprint.
Well there I was, walking in the Sierras, heading for a little tree house by a river for a short time. Nearby a giant fig tree pushed out fruit for the birds and the lucky humans who witnessed the ripening. Behind us was a mountain range that was gentle and rugged and ancient. In front of us, the south fork of the American River rolling, waiting for us to jump on.
Simple. Happy. Timeless.
Meanwhile, halfway across the planet, war was waging, ripping, burning forests, poisoning rivers, destroying shelters for many souls, and lives lost.
We were heading towards our Summer of Love, while some would never make it past the Fall. Many marched, taking a trail towards the Promised Land.
Hey, look yonder, tell me what you see
Marching to the fields of Gettysburg?
It looks like Handsome Johnny with a flintlock in his hand,
Marching to the Gettysburg war, hey marching to the Gettysburg war
Winemakers marched too. They marched, but returned to their fields. Some set about putting into practice some of those convictions that inspired us to our life of adult activity. It was called the One Straw Revolution.
At Universities, Campaniles rang out the hours, the days, and the eras.
What have we learned? And what will we hand over to the next generation? Rows of zero-lot houses off some road leading from the cities? Fields of crops looking for the bees to return and pollinate them in an ancient and necessary rite.
The vines will wait for them, can't make it without them. We might end up with Barolo in Bernkastel, Sangiovese in Soultzmatt.
Thank God the young winemakers of Italy, and the world, are hearing the warning signs. People like Marco Torriti at Mongrana (il primo vino di Querciabella in Maremma), who mentions Masanobu Fukuoka with a look in his eye that takes us back 4,500 years ago, to the 9th generation.
Hey, look yonder, tell me what's that you see
Marching to the fields of Argentaria?
It looks like Handsome Gianni with a Green-Mix in his hand,
Marching to the One Straw Revolution, hey marching to the One Straw Revolution.
The sirens have been sounded; it's time to storm the tower, ragazzi. March, but make your footprint light, in preparation for the generations to follow you.
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Photos by Alfonso Cevola