Something very visceral happens to me when the sun starts to shine through the greyness that descends on this part of the world in early autumn. All of a sudden beauty starts creeping into life again, beauty that had not only been missing, but in many ways had been forgotten for the better part of a year. It really makes me wonder whether people really are designed to live this far north (55˚) and in such a climate. Like many Scandinavians, I speculate that I would miss the distinct seasons if I moved further south. But the older I get, the more certain I get that this is just a rationalization for cowardice and laziness (if you hate it so much, move!). I've grown aware of my propensity for the winter slump (I wouldn't go so far as to call it a depression), but I still get stuck in it, unable to get my head above the clouds. And bit by bit I forget. Forget that sadness and anger are not default states of mind and that people can actually smile at each other in the street and mean it. I try to combat this with high doses of Vitamin D, training and opening decent bottles of wine (not to mention consuming monopausal doses of dark chocolate). And I am much better at keeping spirits high today than I was ten years ago. But the feeling of the spring sun coming out is still like a miracle; like it's setting you free from some dark, dank underground prison.
In a few weeks as I become accustomed, I guess the intitial glow will fade into the background. Certainly, I am generally more happy during summer, but I am rarely as ecxtatic as in those first days of true spring (and yes, it is a devastatingly late spring). All of a sudden food starts tasting better (I suppose this is not entirely subjective. Even in todays globalized world, going through the winter larder is more survival than pleasure), random people begin looking good and smiles and laughter come more easily. For me however the most apparent sign of change is my taste in music and wine. I catch myself playing songs and thinking "It's been a long time", like I am not receptive of the (objective) beauty inherent in the music until a certain point.
Here are three of the tunes that most apparently start appearing on my playlists again after the long winter, year after year. Most of them are instrumental for some reason. Maybe winter is the time for the verbal, the introspective and intellectual thoughts while spring and summer is the time for the sensual, hedonistic and primal?
And yes, I do realize I haven't spoken much of wine. This is supposed to be a wine blog, isn't it? But I fear I will delve too deep into the land of cliché. Wonderful German Riesling certainly is on my mind more often, as are the complex wines of Jerez, (which finally seem to be on the verge of gaining a critical mass of hype on the internet, although the sherry producers themselves speak of hard times. A recent visit to a surprisingly sunny Galicia certainly helped kickstart my Vitamin-D trip. More on that later...
Today I am drinking this. The 2010 Côte de Nuits-Villages from Denis Bachelet, one of my favorite producers of red Bourgogne, might as well have been an autumn wine, perhaps expressing more spice and in a few years haunting secondary notes to match game, mushrooms and smells of decaying underbrush. But today it perfectly captures the essence of spring, starting out with a slight green tone much like the wild berries I picked as a child, just below the point of ripeness with searing acidity, and yet so delicious. With some air, it reveals a darker blackberry fruit character and that initial harshness morphs into a tarry smokiness redolent of late summer nights like meat on the grill and sweet tobacco. What a perfect wine to symbolize the transition of the seasons.
The bottle is featured against the backdrop of a painting by a very inspiring man, my girlfriend's grandfather, who passed away late last week and is to be buried tomorrow. The painting depicts the rising sun amongst the rosehip-covered dunes of westernmost Denmark where the family spent their summers, and captures the soft Scandinavian sunlight so well.
Do you share this powerful feeling of transition? How does it translate into your perception of art, music and taste?