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Birthday Dinner in Sonoma

Apples, a painting by James Pickel

Last night we attended a birthday party / art showing in Sonoma. The guest of honor was Lauren’s uncle, an artist in the oil medium and resident of the area, James Pickel. The grounds were the beautiful home of his friends who covered the beautifully painted and color-washed walls of this retreat with his art. Hidden away up a rambling road into the vibrating, verdant hills of Sonoma county, the afternoon sun draped everything clearly and brightly until the tinge of twilight set to turning the sky’s blue to orange.

The neighboring bleating sheep ushered the twilight as we uncorked the bottles.

Young children of the peaceful people of Northern California ran about, taking turns from the occasional stab at photography, to running, to taking sandwich orders that they sweetly prepared and served with a smile.

The work was rich and heavy with pastoral references: bees and flowers, blossoms, fruit. The hanging canvases, old friends, impressions of life and time in oil, never done, bore silent witness to the evening.

We ate, the fog rose, and conversational partners turned and danced as the night’s chill pushed us inward from the patios. As children turned bleary-eyed, discussion of Indian ragas turned to their production by the able hands and fingers. On the tip of that tilt from soiree to nuit, we politely crept away, redire ex rure ad urbem, the silver German automotive growl prowling down to the Redwood highway.

Back in the City this morning I could think only of Horace:

o rus, quando ego te aspiciam! quandoque licebit nunc veterum libris, nunc somno et inertibus horis, ducere sollicitae iucunda oblivia vitae!

O countryside, when shall I see you! And when will it be granted [that] now by aged books, now by sleep and idle hours to pursue happy forgetfulness of a life of obligation!

The Epicurean ideal in Rome was to have your villa in the city and your retreat amongst nature where you could re-align yourself. It was just so for us.

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