We had a party at Jon and Sonja’s house tonight. Anna will be leaving Moline next weekend and it was our last chance for a social gathering with a group of friends that have made our time here in the midwest most pleasant. Mike and Susan, Dave and Katie, Richard and Janice, Dave and Wynne, Adam and Tamara, Marggy and David, Ellen, Val, Ruth and Van, Jon and Sonja, and Anna and I spent a nice evening around the fire in the backyard. We drank a lot of wine, ate a nice meal and generally enjoyed a November evening that was about as perfect as one might hope a November evening could be.

Anna is heading out next week and she’ll be transporting three bottles of wine that Marggy and David gave us. Three midwestern wines. We decided we would take them to California rather than drink them hereā€”it will be more fun to sip them on the front terrace of our apartment and reminisce about our midwestern adventure in our new Oakland digs. We’ll report on the wines in a future post. Stay tuned.

As we were sitting in the back yard it was clear that one major difference between our experience here and what we have to look forward to in Oakland is the nature of home and place. We have a 1/2 acre yard, Richard and Janice (next door) probably have close to an acre and Jon and Sonja’s lot is also about 1/2 an acre. Our three yards are closely connected so it’s like living in a small park. We’re surrounded by large, old trees.

Contrast that with living in a multi-unit apartment in downtown Oakland. Our kitchen window looks out at the side of our neighbor’s building. There is a big tree growing in front of our building, but most of the landscape surrounding us is cement and asphalt. It’s a short walk to Lakeside Park, so we will not be totally alienated from nature, but we’ll need to make an intentional effort to get our feet onto some soil and be surrounded by trees. I am really looking forward to getting back up to Joaquin Miller Park. It’s a bit of a jaunt on the bike, but the riding trails and woods are pretty wonderful.

Saturday November 7, 2009 — Mark — Illinois wine