Yesterday afternoon I took Callie out for our walk at about 5:30. It was Sunday, and at this time of year, that means there were hunters out there. I could hear gunshots off in the distance. As we went out the back gate and started down the hill, I saw a little brown dog, a terrier of some kind, just disappearing between two rows of vines. I told Callie to stay close to me.
Our relatively new neighbors have a little brown dog like that, and I figured he was out there, maybe having escaped from their fenced-in yard. And then I saw a hunter. He was dressed in camouflage — a real costume, right out of central casting. He was carrying a rifle and it was not "broken" — not open but, I assume, loaded and cocked. Most hunters don't carry guns around like that when they're in the vineyard. With this hunter was a little boy, maybe 10 years old.
I was close enough to the man and the boy to shout a big Bonjour! to them. The hunter looked at me and almost scowled. That's never happened out there before. Most hunters flash and smile and return the greeting. They chat, and they are curious about Callie. What kind of dog is she? A hunting dog? No? And so on. This surly hunter just turned and walked away. I didn't enjoy the encounter. It's strange having unfriendly people carry and even fire guns just a hundred yards of so from our house.
Meanwhile, the vines in a lot of vineyard plots and rows all around us are still heavy with big bunches of purple grapes. This is the latest harvest we've seen since we came to live here in 2003. The grapes are beautiful, and you really are tempted to pick some and take them home. Of course you don't do that. But you can pinch one here and there and taste the differences between different varieties. At this point, they are all sweet and juicy.