My Father, Chianti and I

umberto cesari riserva sm
So I’ve been spending a lot of time since December in Winnipeg. Rather too much in one sense. It is exhausting. When I get home I fall into bed around 830 and sleep like a log for 12 hours. On the other hand, at times it is exhilarating, entertaining, and downright fun. At other times it is sad, tearful and heart-rending. On the whole it just is.

My mother was raised by tee-totalling Methodist parents. To her rum was the Demon Rum. My father was raised a good Ukrainian, which is to say drinker, but had no problem eschewing booze. Essentially he was cured of booze by the war: The last state you want to be in while endangered is intoxicated.

I of course was deeply curious about all things alcoholic and set out to explore. Somewhere along the way, I realized my ‘satiable curiousity ended up combining with my parental system of exploration and I ended up knowing rather more about booze than pretty much anyone I’ve ever met. (Having encountered folks like Jancis Robinson in the last ten years that statement needs to be tempered, but remember I didn’t meet her until well into my 50s. By then I had been explaining booze to people who didn’t believe me – how could this goof know more than they? – and to those curious for more than a decade.

Somewhere along the way I became a fan of Chianti, largely due to the influence of cheap Italian wine (Hello Donini, AKA Done In, Do-no-no etc.) and Petley, he of the bamboo fly rod and squashed Sammy fame. (If you’re kind to him and pay 100% up front he may agree to make you a rod.)

Also probably due to my father. For he – despite a couple of wounds, one or two concussions, a case of pneumonia, and a couple of weeks MIA, not to mention losing most of his tank crew to a shell – has always maintained affection for the country. And somehow all of that comes together in my junk heap of mind to make Chianti my comfort food of choice.

So here I sit and write. Lately I visit him three times a day and by 630 I`m done. Really done. I often go to bed at 9 PM. Mostly these days we chat; I listen to his complaints – he is humiliated, no longer master of all he can see, not that he can see damn all any more; when we run out of conversation I read to him. He can`t really concentrate enough to follow a modern novel or even many short stories. He quite enjoys poetry, which of course he always did. (With great thanks to Ken Mitchell). But he very much enjoys Kipling short stories. I am currently reading him The Just So stories which make him laugh.

And then I come home to comfort food. The bottle pictured is not Chianti, coming from the Romagna district south of Tuscany. It`s a little New World in style with more residual sugar than DOCG Riserva but for all that a lovely herbal drop. I had it tonight with pork chops, broccoli and spaghettini with my tomato sauce, another bit of comfort food, thanks to several years running a swinging bachelor pad with Ron of the bamboo rod fame.

I like Cesari wines. Give them a try.

1 comment

  1. Hi James! Talk about the universe working in strange and convoluted circles! I was recently on a month-long visit (not rehab, and not a retreat,and definitely not a spa!!) in Northern California, trying to recover from a pesky muscular problem that I developed two summers ago at the Festival of Words in Moose Jaw. I’m pretty sure you were there just about the time I stumbled crossing the street and smacked my right knee, precipitating an I.T. Band problem!!
    Anyhoo — while I was seeking recovery in Santa Rosa, I completed my registration etc. for the CNFC conference in Calgary (remember?? You were responsible for introducing me to the genre, and those nice people selling memberships! last summer in Moose Jaw!) And I stumbled (pun not intended) on your website and blog info, and signed up!! (I’m a great signer-upper!)
    This afternoon, having just completed a long and not-entirely-satisfactory session with my computer guru (who is trying to keep this beast running so I can keep writing and working!!) and a meeting to plan an entertainment marking the refurbishing of Darke Hall, I sat down to retrieve the latest batch of emails. And there is your delightful and moving “Father, Chianti and I” !!
    Ken Mitchell had just left our Darke Hall meeting, so I couldn’t show him your tribute to the salutary qualities of his writing. But I shall, the next time I see him!!
    And I am hoping that I shall see you too, perhaps this summer at the Festival of Words? Or maybe even in Calgary at the CNFC conference?
    I think of you fondly every time I have a glass of wine — which is turning out to be my medication of choice for the muscle problems!!
    Until next time — hugs!

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