As the dogs and I set out on our morning walk we heard voices coming from the road. It was unusual to hear any noises in our little place in the woods much less early in the morning. I decided to divert from our normal route to a path that would lead us to the road. As we closed in on the valley floor, the dogs stopped…ears stood up…and they focused intently on the cars and trucks parked on the side of the vineyards. I could not see any people but I could hear voices and laughter coming from within the miles of vines below.
It was our first sunny day in quite some time so I knew I had the perfect opportunity to take some pictures. I ran the dogs home…grabbed my camera…and set back out to the scene. As I walked into the vineyards I could see the workers deep in the vines. I was struck by the joyfulness in their voices….and the laughter. It was still early in the morning….cold….and they were pruning…..yet such light heartedness. I felt their joy enveloping me and before I knew it I too was enamored with the day.
As I walked back up our drive I felt the newness of life….the water was flowing in the streams….the sun was shining….and old growth was being cut to make room for new. I felt a renewed sense not only for the day but for the year to come. It reminded me of an essay I wrote a few years ago for the blog of Christopher Kostow, Executive Chef The Restaurant at Meadowood……
NEW GROWTH…by Peggy O’Kelly of St. Helena Olive Oil Co. July 21, 2104.
Pruning. It’s an indication that harvest is over….old wood cut back to make way for new growth…a new season has begun. I always take time to give gratitude to the old growth and acknowledge the presence of it within the new….as life is a series of connections…all dependent upon one another….and never ending.
My journey began as a child running wildly through the hills of Yountville…soaking in the spirit of a land once inhabited by the Wappo Indians. We spent many long days hiking, making forts, swimming in the reservoir and playing with everything that nature provided. As I grew up and my older siblings entered the workforce I began to learn about the entrepreneurial spirit that ran deep in the land….Schmidts with The French Laundry, The Tiedmanns with Oakville Public House, The Original Oakville Grocery, The Catersons with The Wurst Place, Ann Grace and Ruby Redman with Napa Valley Mustards….and more. Farm to table was rooted in the Napa Valley long before the first vineyard was planted….there was no need to market it…just live it.
At 18, I ventured off to University in San Francisco. I spent 10 years running fast and far from the life that unbeknownst to me had taken root within my soul. After the birth of my first daughter I was drawn back to the Valley for farmers markets, family dinners and pet parades. It was in one of my visits that the olive tree came to light. A vintner was pruning the trees on her property with the aim of producing Napa Valley extra virgin olive oil. I was intrigued and soon drawn into the lore of the olive tree. The thought of bringing it back to life in the Napa Valley became my obsession.
I drew from the spirit of the Napa Valley I knew as a child to launch my new venture…and maintained my inspiration with the continuous energy of new growth in the Valley. I modeled my business after the leaders of the wine industry as olive oil was just as misunderstood. We opened the first olive oil tasting room/production facility in the United States and began our quest to educate our customer directly…..formed relationships with local olive growers and began our niche production of Napa Valley orchard designated extra virgin olive oils…and drafted our core message of preservation of traditions that help sustain the olive as a life-giving food source while honoring the land from which it came.
Every year when the old branches fall to the ground, I say a prayer of thanks for all that has come before….then look up at the new growth and am excited at what more there is to come.
I hope you take a moment today to consciously shed what no longer serves you and in doing so, create an opening for all the goodness yet to come. Carpe Diem.