I'm just back from a wonderful trip to the Walla Walla wine country. I'm not a huge imbiber of anything, so much of the wine stuff was lost on me, but we did have a terrific experience.
For me a lot of the wonderfulness was in the change of scenery. Much as I love the island, the water, the green leafy stuff all around me, I sometimes long for the checkerboard or crazy quilt patterns of alternating wheat, stubble, fallow fields across the landscape.
Walla Walla is just south of the Palouse, that southeastern Washington area of rolling hills and wheat fields. Its location in the Walla Walla valley, a green oasis of many small streams, lush grass, fertile loess (look it up), and blue skies, is surrounded by dry land wheat and pea farms. This countryside was home to the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Walla Walla and Cayuse nations in the early centuries, usurped by white settlers in the 19th century, and now attracts oenologists, green activists, artists, writers, and others interested in preserving and telling the story of this beautiful place.
In the near distance roll up the Blue Mountains, their lower flanks checkerboarded with fields, their ravines furred by cottonwoods and tiny streamlets. The Blues were formidable obstacles to wagon trains, back in the day, and we hope they will be formidable obstacles to developers as well, though I'm not optimistic, given how condos and McMansions are springing up even in Walla Walla.
Anyhow, it was a wonderful trip, and the one thing I was concerned about---that going on this jaunt with parishioners (it was an auction item offered last spring) would be problematic---did not develop. It was a immense pleasure to share these days with them and it became a good opportunity to spend relaxed time with good folks.