Tag Archives: Alexander Valley

Solid Gold

What is your favorite color?  Mine would be purple and orange.  Isn’t it strange how we have “favorite colors”?  And what is it inside of us that causes us to be drawn to one color but somewhat repulsed by another one – a color that someone else thinks is great?!?!?!  People are very strange and mysterious.  I suppose that is partly what makes the human species so interesting.  We are such a diverse lot!

My favorite fall color is orange.  When I drive down the street or see a vineyard ablaze with orange, I do a double-take.   I could sit and look at a tree covered with orange leaves and the sun shining through it from the other side…all…day…long.

No orange in our photo for today, but I liked the photo anyway.  The contrast between the golden leaves of the vine and the small grapes was nice, and the twisting little stem was interesting.

I know I’ve shown a lot of photos lately of leaves and vines and vineyards.  I’ll try to not show too many more…it’s just that it’s such a beautiful time of year here in the wine country, and with our upcoming move, this is my last chance to really get a lot of photos of it before we leave.  Anyway, here you go:  (OH, by the way, if you double click on the picture to enlarge it, you can make out the tiny dew drops on the grapes!)

There's gold in them there vineyards...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1907, the first helicopter to carry a human being rose above the ground…a whopping 6 feet.  It was designed by Paul Cornu.  The flight took place at Lisieux, France.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Model-turned-actress Andie McDowell’s real name is Rose Anderson (hence “Andie”)  McDowell.

Morning Glory

I am NOT a morning person.  And that’s bad…at least it’s bad if you want to take photos at the best time of the day.  Evenings (the last hour before sunset) is also considered prime time for photography, but mornings are what the die-hard pros go for.  BUT…since we will be moving away from the wine country to peach country (Georgia), I hauled myself out of bed really early this morning to take photos in a particular vineyard that I saw from the road.  I’d been waiting for the right color…and it’s about there right now.  Overall, though, I think most of the vineyards will get their best color in about 2-3 weeks from now.

Anyway, I put on a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt and my Lakers jacket, packed up the camera and tripod and hit the road.  In about 20 minutes I reached my destination.  I was lucky to bump into the vineyard owner and ask if I could walk out and shoot pictures and he thanked me for asking and gave me permission.  Cool!

I was there before the sun was up and stayed around for about an hour.   Some of the shots I took were before the sun came up, others were taken afterwards (like today’s picture).  I’ll share some more of them with you in coming days.

You know what?  It was magical being up and shooting when the sun finally came over the eastern hills and hit the vineyards!  I’m glad I got up early!  I may even do it again in a few weeks!

Morning glory in the Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1967, the first edition of Rolling Stone Magazine was published with John Lennon on the cover.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: one specific nematode (think worm) ages the equivalent of 5 years in human terms for every day they live.  However, the little critters can go into suspended animation that can last for 2 months or longer…the equivalent of a human sleeping for 200 years.

Late Summer in Alexander Valley

Isn’t it interesting how different people like different things?  Some people live for the hot summers around here.  They like to get out in the sun, go to the beach, work in the yard or vineyards, go on picnics or boating on Lake Sonoma.  Of course, here in Cloverdale, we’re about 20-25 miles (as the crow flies) to the coast, and almost every evening in the summer, the coastal fog will drift in and cool down the evenings deliciously!  Even I love the summer nights here in Cloverdale!

But, I’m not a summer kinda guy for the most part.  I’m an autumn guy, especially when we get to this time of October and lasting through December.  I know that in many places December is considered part of winter, but here it never really gets that cold, so I think of December being the end of fall.

On October 1, I was driving down a road southbound that runs parallel to highway 101 and I pulled over to take today’s picture.  For those who live in the frozen tundra of Alaska or other parts frequented by yetis, Kodiaks, reindeer and polar bears, I am fairly certain that your October 1 didn’t look like this.  Now, the scenery is changing as the grapes have been picked and the vines are starting to turn color.  You can’t see that happening in this picture, but in a couple weeks or so, I’ll try to get back to this same spot and take a similar picture showing the effects of fall here in Alexander Valley.

There can be no doubt: this is my favorite season here in the wine country!!!!!  (Of course, fall is my favorite season anywhere….how well I remember the crisp nights in Iowa as a young boy, the harvest moon rising in the east, the corn stalks broken and bent from the passing of the combines that harvested the golden kernels, the leaves on the ground…oh, I could go on and on!!!!)

Anyway, this is from October 1, 2011…all the vines were still green and loaded with fruit!

A lovely October 1st in Alexander Valley, Sonoma county, California

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1967, a musical opened on Broadway in New York that would run for 1,758 performances.  It started with these words: Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair…  Of course, the musical was named, Hair!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: traditionally, Jewish babies are not named for a deceased relative.  The belief was that the “angel of death” might mistake the baby for the deceased and “collect” them!

Whither the Weather

It was just a week ago when I was posting pictures that looked like springtime, remember?  Well, guess what?  It’s not springtime anymore…at least not starting today!  When I went into town today (that makes me sound like some sort of cowboy who gets on a horse and rides it into the general store!) there was snow all over the hills around the Alexander Valley.  I knew it got cold last night, but because of the rain and the cold, voila! – snow!

I love the beauty of snow-covered mountains and hills.  I’ve always liked the snow.  I think I always will.  I do recall that it was a pain to have to shovel it when we lived in Maine, but even then, I enjoyed it.

Here’s a picture I took today that shows a bit of the contrast – trees with green leaves, yellow mustard growing wild in the vineyard in the foreground, and the hills on the northeastern part of Alexander Valley peeking out from under the rain clouds, letting us have a peek at their snowy hats.


Contrasts and Changes


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered and cannibalized young men that he lured to his home, was sentenced to 15 life terms in prison.  He committed the first murder in 1978 and he murdered the last of his 17 known victims in 1991.  Dahmer was beaten to death in the prison where he was serving his sentences in November of 1994.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Pennsylvania has the largest rural population of any state in the United States.


The Start of a New Day

Can I tell you a secret?  You promise not to report me to the Highway Patrol?  OK…since you promised, I’ll tell you.

I took today’s picture while I was driving on the freeway going southbound.  I am NOT a morning person.  I hate mornings.  I hate having to get out of bed in the morning is a more proper description of my feelings.  Because of that, I try to not see very many sunrises!

I must admit, however, that once I am up, I find the early morning a magnificent time of day.  It is peaceful, quiet, cool.  It is as if a sleeping world is just beginning to open its eyes once again and is stretching.  Once I am actually up and “at ’em”, I enjoy the early morning greatly.  There is something wonderful about new things: new babies, a new, unblemished  sheet of paper, a new snowfall before footsteps track it all up.  New days are no different.  Maybe I’ll have to change my habits of what time of day to get up!

There is an incredible quality to the early morning light that makes photographers drool.  Sunrise, along with sunset, are the “golden hours” in terms of photography.  The rays of light are at a very slanted angle that creates a golden quality in the light that is visible.  It is why so many photographers get up very early to shoot pictures – nearly all the great ones shoot in the early morning or late evening.  That’s probably one reason that I’ll never be a great photographer: I have a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings and at night-time I’m getting tired and hungry!  Lazy me…

This morning, however, I was up and on the road before the sun came up.  I had a meeting that I had to travel to in Vacaville, so I left the house about the time the very first light was just blushing its beautiful blue eyes at me.  I took today’s picture about 15 minutes after I left the house.  I thought it turned out pretty well given the fact that I was traveling at 68 miles per hour and could only hold the camera with one hand while I drove with the other.  I hope it helps you appreciate the beauty that each new day holds.  They are so full of potential and promise!!!!  May your day be blessed tomorrow!  (Just don’t hold your breath as you look for me to watch the sunrise with you!)


Alexander Valley Sunrise, Thursday, 1/20/11


ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1778, Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii when he landed at Waimea on what is now called the island of Hawaii.  Actually, he didn’t discover it.  The locals who lived there had discovered it long before he arrived, but it seems that our European ancestors had to claim they discovered places that had been inhabited for centuries, if not millennia.  Actually, I’m glad he “found” it because if he hadn’t, we might not know it was there and we couldn’t enjoy it like we do!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The phrase, “happy-go-lucky” has been in existence since 1665.


Hills of Mystery

There is just something about fog-shrouded mountains that is mysterious.  What is hidden behind those bands and pockets of fog?  Do dragons rest in lairs just out of sight?  Are 10-foot tall eagles concealed by the mists, waiting down swoop down and scoop up an unsuspecting human?  Was that a tyrannosaurus that was barely visible in that momentary break in the fog?

Nah.  But it’s fun to imagine, isn’t it?  As adults, we have lost much of the use of our imaginations.  We have cut our teeth on statements like, “Get real!”  What if I don’t want to get real?  What if I still want to believe in the Tooth Fairy and Cupid?

Well, of course, I know that there’s no real Tooth Fairy, but I do want to believe that from time to time people are still pierced through the heart by the arrows of the fat little cherub flitting nearby!

I took this shot on Saturday when the day was overcast and the fog was moving from north to south along the eastern side of the Alexander Valley.  Who knows what lurks behind those banks of fog?  Not me, but I’m sure that with a bit of imagination we could come up with something!

Hills of Mystery!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In 1974, John Lennon appeared in concert for the last time at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  He joined with Elton John for renditions of “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The US produces 19% of all the world’s trash.  Contributing to that number are annual disposal of 20 billion disposable diapers, 2 billion razors and 1.7 billion pens.

A Harvest Scene

Today is an overcast, rainy, foggy day in the Cloverdale environs.  Lots of folks think that cloudy days are not good day for photography, but in reality, it can be a great time to shoot!

One of the things I love about Cloverdale is the way fog snakes its tendrils through the hills around town.  Cloverdale sits in a tiny pocket that is known as the Alexander Valley.  Hills line both sides of the valley with Cloverdale nestled snugly on the western side of the Russian River.  We live about 4.5 miles outside of town on a hillside that looks down on some of the Alexander Valley vineyards.

On my way home today from helping to decorate the church for Christmas, the vineyards were golden-orange, the hills were playing gracious host to the aforementioned fog and I didn’t have my camera!  So, what is a guy to do?  I ran home and got it and took a gob of pictures of the hills.  Some of them turned out fine, but the photo that captured my attention was one I took out the passenger side window of my Toyota truck.  It is a scent of a vineyard irrigation pond with the vineyards and hills on the opposing side of the valley as a backdrop.  I thought it was worth sharing with you today.  I’ll probably share one with the hills and fog tomorrow.

A fall scene in Alexander Valley

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Ross McWhirter, in 1975, was shot to death in his home by a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).  McWhirter was a co-editor and compiler of the Guinness Book of World Records.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The horned lizard from the American southwestern desert may squirt a small stream of blood from the corner of its eyes when it is frightened.