Writing and wandering

Writing and walking are good companions: vivid writing relies on details harvested from observation, while long walks provide plenty of opportunity to pay attention. Walking invites you to crouch down and watch the beetle clamber over pebbles, to poke your finger in a half-dried puddle, to stop and listen to the kettle-bell symphony of a herd of sheep, to breathe deeply. In all that crouching down and poking and listening and breathing, delightful things make themselves known. What have you discovered while wandering?

Exploring natural cider in France

A few years ago, I moved to the westernmost tip of France, in Brittany. The region’s name, Finistère, roughly translates to “Land’s End.” Though not as wild as my native Northwest—big farming has done a number on the landscape—Brittany has much to offer in the way of quiet beaches, crashing waves and some of the most spectacular storms I’ve ever witnessed. I’m convinced that rainbows are born out here: they sprout on the horizon with nearly every cloudburst.

Brittany is also one of France’s traditional cider-making regions. One of my favorite producers is La Ferme de Kermarzin, a micro cider farm reviving traditional methods: no pesticides, no added yeasts, no filtering. Like natural wine makers, La Ferme de Kermarzin puts respect for the fruit first. The result is a surprising natural cider that encapsulates the crisp, bitter-sweet terroir  of Finistère. Read more about French natural cider in an article I wrote for Sprudge Wine.

Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger

Notes from the Road: Sunset Limited

I was on a train somewhere in west Texas when the rain came. A smattering of droplets grew to a curtain that obscured the café car’s arching glass window as the Sunset Limited slowed to a stop. I looked up from my book in time to see the sky crack open. Where there had been slabs of fissured earth and pale dust, a web of frothy rivulets as dark as cinnamon and as moist as milk bled color into the ground.

Read more →