My mother still laughs, lightly, at the term me-time, although she now has plenty of it and doesn’t know it. We were not raised to turn the spotlight on ourselves, and never to become self-absorbed. But it seems, me-time, is a modern day necessity.
For some, it will be a game of golf, tennis, a stroll on the beach or a day at the spa, for others it will be time with friends, or time alone. We are all so unique, me-time, will be different for each of us. What is it really and how do we deal with it when we get it, this precious resource?
This April vacation I had a very fortunate occasion. I took my family, a husband and three young kids, to my sister’s resort, the West Sonoma Inn, in Sonoma Valley. My father flew from Ireland to see us all. It was great. We walked the Armstrong woods with reverence to the sequoias, built driftwood forts at the beach at Goat Rock where the Russian River meets the Pacific; we ate in funky cool restaurants.
A surprise! My father and sister had conspired to give a gift to my husband and I. We were booked into a B&B in Calistoga, Napa Valley for a night alone. We were to go and not return until the following day where a picnic was in order at a friend’s winery.
“Really!” she said.
“You want to mind my kids, overnight?”
“Just go, pack some clothes.”
We waved so hard as we drove out of her driveway, I had to hold my fingers to my lips and kiss them all goodbye. I love my sister. This was going to be great. Things were blurry with excitement.
We drove, from Sonoma to Napa, the sun shone and made the hills and vineyards and huge friendly trees even more beautiful. We came to the quaint little town of Calistoga, a neat tourist town tucked into the hills and surrounded by some name-dropping wines, castle-vineyards and mega ranches.
In our abandonment and lack of planning, we got there way early. We had no idea where we were or what to do. I didn’t really care, I could have sat in the car and just looked at the neat little rows of vines, like three stick candelabras, holding hands, again and again and again. Their buds were beginning to open and I felt like if I waited an hour, just sitting there in the sun, I would see something miraculous. I think this was the point where you detach from your kids, breathe deep, and realize you are whole, not split five different ways, like a vine, but one.
We checked in. We met Ric Pielstick of Chanric Inn, he was tall and too handsome, I couldn’t look him in the eye. He brought us in and showed us around, everything was perfect, the kitchen an open delight for chefs, which it turned out Ric was, a very, very, good one.
He took out a map and began to point to regions we should visit according to our grape preference. I love wine, but have no clue about which blend of grape I enjoy most! Did I mention I had three kids?
In trying to get a better understanding of us and in what direction to send us, he asked, “So, what do you like,” I thought I would have a panic attack, nobody’s ever asked me that. Well maybe they did, but I can’t remember anything much anymore. What do I like? How would I know? I can tell you what my daughters like, love and hate, I could tell anyone about what my son thinks of hockey or spaghetti, but what do I like? Oh boy. Could I call a friend?
“Maybe art, do you like art?” Ric said with a pleasant, caring, warm, look.
“I do,” I thought of all the lovely stick figures and smiley faces on our fridge.
“Great,” he circled Clos Pegase, described as, an intersection of wine and art with a passionate estate-grown winemaking balanced with an openhearted spirit of celebration.
“Great,” my husband said, asking questions and drinking in Ric’s detailed answers.
Did you know the vineyards were mixing themes now? Good idea right! There are historical themes, art exhibits, authentic 12th century Tuscan, winemaking tours of all sorts, just packed with knowledge. Hundreds of different wineries waiting to be explored. How could you choose?
“Do you like champagne?”
Bingo. He circled Mumm Napa. So it turns out I like art and champagne. Ric was a pro, in not too long a time he pegged what we would enjoy and to top it all off he pointed out where you could get a beer and the Bruins, game 4! (I know, we are uncultured heathens)
And that is what we did. On the drive to Mumm, my husband explained a few things to me. It must have been obvious I was an amateur me-time person.
“Let yourself be fussed over, feel special, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.”
It was the switching of the hats, so to speak. Ok I got it. I was a queen for a day. When they poured the wine ever so carefully into the flutes at Mumm, I could feel the imaginary tiara on my head, when the tour guide bent to pick up a bunch of grapes, I thought he would kiss my feet. I got a little carried away, relaxing and enjoying and feeling special, everyone was so nice it just didn’t stop. I was getting used to it by the sun-kissed minute.
We slept in. We strolled to the garden for coffee. We sat in the flower-filled patio under a shade and beside a fountain, reading the New York Times. Ric and his partner Chan served us a breakfast of kings. It was art/food fusion and I had never (of course) seen or tasted anything like it! In his starched white chefs coat, Chan, presented thinly sliced mango and apple, with proscuitto, toasted walnuts and cherries, with a little of the cherry juice lightly topping this creation. It was fabulous. When he brought out the soufflé, it looked like a chefs hat of spinach and cheese and I don’t know what else but you could not feel it when you ate it, it was not a normal eating experience, you could taste it, but not feel the smooth richness in your mouth. Unforgettable, it was a culinary delight.
By the time we were heading back to Sonoma, my husband was probably hoping I didn’t get to fond of the old me-time. That’s the thing, once you’ve had some precious moments of me-time, once you surrender to the moment and the intent of the experience, to enjoy, enjoy enjoy, that is what it becomes, pure enjoyment. I would of course want more queen time. Thank you Calistoga. Thank you Chanric and thank you sister for the gift of cherished time.
If anyone wants to check out the Chanric Inn for an experience of a lifetime, go to www.Thechanric.com and met Ric, Chan and their funny, beautiful yellow lab, Dinagen. Or www.westsonomainn.com for a great northern Sonoma, Russian River romantic getaway.