I recognize that it’s been radio silence around here lately. But I couldn’t help it.
There was the threat of the fires, the Sophie’s Choice of packing “the essentials” in case of evacuation, and the smoke. The incessant, invasive smoke.
I just couldn’t stop thinking about these things, and I retreated into myself.
To write about a new restaurant or a winery experience seemed frivolous amongst all the destruction, loss and fear that wine country was going through.
I couldn’t even bring myself to post a photo on Instagram. Because, while I didn’t want to offer even more images of devastation, a breezy, colorful image of Napa seemed crass. What would I say? What would it say about me?
I fled the valley with my family in search of cleaner air and a clearer mind.
Upon our return some days later I was still mourning for friends who’d lost their homes.
The inside of my house reeked of smoke and there was a dusting of ash on the outdoor furniture.
But, the sky was blue.
I realized then that, for many of us in Napa and Sonoma Counties, the fires initiated something akin to a grief response — and my denial and depression were starting to give way to acceptance.
I was beginning to feel hopeful again.
While I aired out the house, I tried to think of a way to get back on track and support Napa Valley and my community.
What occurred to me seems obvious now, but it was a lightbulb moment for me at the time.
I finally came to understand that the best way I could support wine country was to help mitigate the fear that people may have regarding visiting Napa and Sonoma.
I can continue to show everyone what Napa still has to offer — that many businesses, restaurants and wineries are, for the most part, OPEN FOR BUSINESS. And they are looking forward to seeing visitors again soon.
I will help spread the word that although we may be burned, we are healing, and we are resilient.
It’s going to be a long and slow process, but we’re ready to start looking forward.
Welcome back, Sunshine.
If you want to help victims of the fires, you can: