Before Organic Farming Was a “Thing”

a page from my sketch book

Before organic farming was a thing, there was ital cooking by Jamaica’s Rastafarians. Here is an 8-minute video on hillside farming in Nonsuch, Portland (Jamaica): natural eating.

If you ever get a chance to visit Portland, Jamaica, try to visit the Nonsuch Cave, a system of  nine chambers of stalagmites and stalactites. Inside this cave you will find seashells and other fossils embedded into the walls. This is quite amazing since the cave is high atop a hill! This area must once have been undersea. A favorite place to stay when on this end of the island is Trident Castle: here, peacocks greet you from the rooftops at evening time.

 

Picchetti Ranch

In the Cupertino foothills, off Stevens Canyon Road and Monte Bello Road, is a lovely preserve with a working winery. The preserve is accessible to hikers, bikers and equestrians. None of the trails I’ve taken are particularly strenuous and the views, especially those overlooking the pond, are magnificent. Sounds from a nearby quarry and gun range intrude on an otherwise peaceful space.

Below are some photographs that I took during my first October in the Bay Area. (They were taken with an old cell phone and so, not too good. I apologize.) I was struck by the amazing light and the brightness at that time of year. Octobers in Jamaica are, in contrast, dark, gloomy and wet. I don’t remember ever having a sunny or a dry birthday growing up there. In Jamaica, October birthdays mean no outdoor celebrations, games or donkey cart rides. But I guess it beats having to deal with rattlesnakes, which, if you are at Picchetti, you need to be wary of. Out near the entrance is a large oaken wine barrel with a “Welcome to Picchetti Winery” sign attached to it. Right below, atop the “No dogs allowed” sign, is a sign that tells you to look out for the indigenous specie, rattlesnakes. Yikes!

If you are in the Cupertino foothills, check out the preserve and the winery and say hello to its two resident peacocks. Wine tasting flourishes inside the winery where, for five-dollars, you can sample 5 different wines (or is it for ten-dollars that you get to sample 5 wines?). I’ve forgotten the details but it doesn’t matter. It’s a great deal and this certainly is a great way to unwind after doing restoration work on the Zinfandel Trail. And peacock feathers amidst the lights? How festive! They remind me of my childhood at Belvedere where we had lots of peahens and peacocks; and who can forget their crazy screaming noises from the rooftops at Trident Villas?

When at Picchetti, also go visit “the Picchetti tree.” There are so many beautiful old trees in California. The Picchetti tree, an oak, is more than one-hundred years old. I was drawn to it in much the say way I have been drawn to certain trees my whole life. Huge old trees are a humbling sight while trees laden with mangoes are a joyous sight.

Some humbling things are magnificent old trees, massive rock formations like the ones at Yosemite, and great big whales like the ones seen from the deck of a boat off the Boston Harbor. Being up close to these things make me feel insignificant – as if I were nothing – when compared to them.

Picchetti, early October

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