Weather reminds us that despite our advances as a culture we're still at the mercy of a series of natural systems. Like a fragile new shoot that will drop from a vine if you accidentally brush it with your sweater, all life is perched precariously on this great green and blue rock on which we reside. Last year my wife, daughter and I huddled in our cellar while village sirens announced the passage of more than eighty tornadoes. Such moments give you the perspective of a bug before the onrushing windshield.
The cold snap I documented in my previous post has brought more to my world than dramatic losses to our region's grape crops and massive freeze damage to my little test vineyard. I can be cynical and say that it's good for me to have this learning experience now, never mind the suffering of commercial growers. But the fickle weather systems have gifted me with an entirely new experience: a devastating migraine headache. My first one was on a bright morning just one day before the weather began to turn. We went from one of the warmest late March stints in the past 118 years to the absolute coldest on record. The vineyards and peach crops were wiped out. My headache preceded this front and should have served as warning. I woke up in agony that morning. I couldn't stand up without dropping to my knees and puking like a frat brother in the wee hours after binging on light beer and tequila. I was photophobic...needing a dark room all day. It felt like someone was shoving their thumb into my eye socket. Somebody big. I was babysitting Bailey all day, and I lay on a blanket in the shade while she ran up and down the hill behind our house. It was a pleasant day, but there were dark clouds on the horizon warning of the approaching cold front.
After that first headache, others followed. It's taken me a while to discover a pattern, but the worst of the migraines seem to blossom in the early morning after an evening that included a modest glass of red wine. I've heard of plenty of people with this condition, and I once had sympathy mixed with indifference: after all, that left more red wine for me. But my callus impulse has come back to haunt me.
Now, all of a sudden, on the heels of that cold snap, the red stuff, the glistening claret, the healthy tonic for all of life's woes, the elixir of happiness...is now my curse. I mean, dear Fate, what the hell is going on? You couldn't conceive a more cruel punishment? We just purchased last month a little spot of land with designs of planting a vineyard. And right now the headaches are so bad that it's not even worth the risk of a half glass.
I'm running experiments now, one night with no wine, one with white, one with a touch of red. Perhaps it's coincidence. But so far, when I've avoided wine, I've been better for it. Perhaps when this spate of noxious weather passes things will get back to normal. Or maybe I'm stuck with this condition. Maybe I'll go on to grow winegrapes to make a product I'll never be able to consume. I'll sit on my tracter, mowing the aisles of premium vinifera while sipping on a Stag beer.
When stuff like this happens, you just have to shake your head with incredulity. When facing other crises (and do not doubt that this is a great crisis in my world), I'd often have a recipe and wine pairing ready as tonic...after all, harsh realities of life are more easily faced with a belly full of red meat and garlic, and then your veins flowing with a gentle Pommard or a spicy Australian shiraz. But I'll have to muddle through this challenge some other way.