Country Time…

Looking east from the tasting room

“Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back,

Ain’t much an old country boy like me can’t hack,

It’s early to rise, early in the sack,

Thank God I’m a country boy.”

…Who, me?

Yeah, I know, I ain’t no country boy. Not even close. I grew up an hour away from NYC, called Portland my home for over twelve years, and spent the summer wandering around some of Europe’s major cities. I drive a Honda Element, all four cylinders of it. I listen to Yo-Yo Ma. And, here’s the real kicker, I blog.

But shoot, no one’s gotta know all that, right? O.K., so they can see my Burgundy colored box on wheels coming at ’em from a mile away (I make sure to change the radio station to country at stop lights). And occasionally I slip up in the store when I see some really nice looking wild mushrooms and fawn over them for a minute or two.

All kidding aside, the scenery sure has changed for me. Instead of seeing speeding BMW’s out my window, I’m surrounded by pick-ups and big rigs. Instead of doing battle with multiple sales reps and importers, I go to war now against the army of flies, birds, deer, and other various varmints that attempt to call the winery “home”. I can see for miles out a pop with no obstructed views. The mostly green from all the trees, lawns, and moss has been now replaced with mostly golden-brown from all the sandy hills, basalt rock, bitterbrush and wheatgrass. What a view…

*    *    *

“Well I wouldn’t trade my life for diamonds or jewels,

I never was one of them money hungry fools,

I’d rather have my fiddle and my farmin’ tools,

Thank God I’m a country boy.”

Not too long ago, the style of shoe you see to your left was what I slipped on before heading off to work (The black and/or brown, NOT the white…). Designer slacks and shirts, matching belts, and a good dose of product for the hair were all part of the morning ritual. Ohhhhh, how that’s changed. Now, it’s all about the basics of survival. How cold will it be at the winery today? Will I be getting really dirty today, or just sorta dirty? Will I be trudging through wet, cold mud? Should I bring an extra set of pants just in case I slip and do a Nestea plunge into one of the fermentation tanks?

Below are my NEW, fancy work shoes- a little less flashy than the Steve Madden’s, I know, but still pretty sweet.

It took me a while to remember how to even walk in these things. I kept thinking there were dead beavers, fully bloated, strapped to my feet. Occasionally I would forget to pick my feet up and the big clunkers would catch a rock and send me stumbling forward. I told Edwardo, our do-all assistant winemaker, that I had a bum knee… hunting accident.

*    *    *

“My daddy taught me young how to hunt and how to whittle,

He taught me how to work and play a tune on the fiddle,

Taught me how to love and how to give just a little,

Thank God I’m a country boy.”

My father made a living as a carpenter, and my very first job was working with him. I dreaded the way 6 AM seemed to roll around so fast, and he had little patience for slow starts. I hated the way the cold winter mornings greeted us in the truck. Swinging a hammer outside in December pretty much sucked. And I despised his up-beat, cheery demeanor from the moment we started to the moment we quit for the day. “What the hell could he be so happy about?” I thought. He was friends with all the people at the lumber yard. At the bank. In the deli. It drove me crazy.

I find myself smiling and singing to myself as I drive into work nowadays. My typical morning routine consists of a quick pit stop at Holstein’s Coffee in The Dalles, where they greet me with smiles, quick chit-chat, and a “Have a great day”. As I head back onto the highway, there’s this older woman, a road worker, who wears a big ole’ Stetson hat. She smiles and waves to every one who slowly passes by.

The first time, I thought she was just crazy. The second and third time, I figured she had strict orders to do this from her foreman. “People ain’t happy about paying taxes for us to spend two weeks playin’ in the tar, Alice, so you make sure and give ’em a smile and a wave…”. But now, after a month of this, I’m startin’ to believe that she’s just… happy. And likes to make others feel the same. I think my father was- and still is- like this. A day’s work feels a whole lot better when you’re in a good state of mind.

Looking southwest from the parking lot

It’s not likely that I’ll become a tried-and-true country boy, no matter how many rocks I trip over or how many flies fall to the lightning-quick draw of my swatter (President Obama would be proud). And I still have a pair of those fancy dress shoes- I wasn’t hired, after all, just to mend fences, clean tanks, or kill bugs. Those things just come with the territory. I’ll soon need to wheel and deal in the retail market back in the “big  city” of Portland, so the work boots will get a periodic break from all the rocks.

But it suits me just fine out here. Sitting on top of the pump house out in the vineyard and overlooking the Columbia River earlier today, I could hear only the wind and a train’s whistle. I thought of my father and how he would sing Louis Jordan’s Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie when we would hear a train in the distance. A second later, my clunkers began a slow tap and the lyrics came back to me… “Woo Woo, ooh ooh Ch’ Boogie…” And wouldn’t you know, a big ole’ country-time smile found its way to these lips.

With smiles and good cheer,



~ by Jared on November 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “Country Time…”

  1. nice

  2. Sounds wonderful Jared!

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