Duff ’n Stuff, March 18, 2013
Here’s some cool island stuff I’ve soaked up lately.
Island wine lovers and vintners were recently excited to see the release of “Washington Tasting Room” magazine’s cover story for its Spring 2013 issue. The story by Richard Duval is titled “Island Time,” and explores the loop of seven wineries on South Whidbey at which local vintners have been making a name for themselves in the meticulous world of wine-making.
Duval starts his tour from Langley village and goes outward from there. If you don’t know about the maverick vintners of Whidbey Island, you might take a little tour this season, because even if you don’t drink wine, these winemakers have created each their own idyll on the island which reflects what many people have done here: marry their love of the land with some skillful enterprise that supports the local economy, while enriching their lives and the lives of their neighbors. They are supported in their endeavors by the lucky complement of two wine shops on the south end, 2nd Street Wine Shop in Langley and Vino Amore in Freeland, also mentioned in the article, and the spate of tasting rooms that have turned up all around. Here’s a list of the wineries on the south end:
- Whidbey Island Winery
- Ott & Murphy Wines
- Useless Bay Wines
- Blooms Winery
- Spoiled Dog Winery
- Holmes Harbor Cellars
- Comforts of Whidbey
Be sure to pick up a copy of Washington Tasting Room, because you can’t read the article online. It’s satisfying to see it in print, with its colorful and glossy photos of the wineries, of downtown Langley and, on the cover, the vines at Whidbey Island Winery. It’s always nice to see some off-island promotion of the interesting endeavors of islanders and this magazine hits the mark.
In other island news, I made it to the Hedgebrook Literary Series at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts on Saturday evening to hear novelists Ruth Ozeki and Karen Joy Fowler read from and talk about their latest books. “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ozeki is already on shelves and in the literary news cycle, and “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” by Fowler, is to be released in May. From the excerpts I heard read by the authors, I can recommend both without hesitation.
It was completely enjoyable to hear these writers read their own novels, which is very different from hearing someone other than the author read the work. The voice is that much clearer, with all the inflection, intention, specificity of syntax, etc. in exactly the right place; the place intended by the author. I have those voices in my head now, so that when I pick up these books I feel as if I may have an advantage. Also, it’s always interesting to hear an accomplished novelist talk about their process of finishing a book, and Ozeki and Fowler were honest about it. They each spoke about the old problem of distractions; the challenge of working at home where the generalities of one’s household existence is a common obstacle.
Hedgebrook, the women writers retreat in Langley, has provided the balm in many writers’ Gilead. Both authors stressed the turning point for each of these recent projects in which being holed up in a cabin in the woods at Hedgebrook made it possible for them to finish the books. At Hedgebrook, writers are given the supreme luxury of uninterrupted writing time without the Internet, household chores, having to cook, family needs, or any of the other hundred or so distractions that offer a writer a reason to turn away from that which demands one’s undivided attention – the book. What did Fowler say her friend called it? We live in an age of “constant partial attention,” she said, and no one can write a novel with partial attention. Ozeki said after a week into one of her three-week stays at Hedgebrook, she literally felt her brain going through a kind of withdrawal and that she found herself shifting into a clear-headed state, one that had eluded her and left her manuscript in a tangential muddle of 600 pages. Once her mind had settled back to where it should be, she was able to turn the muddle into “A Tale for the Time Being,” which is already in the news with reviews from the Washington Post and stories about it in the New York Times. Ultimately, the Literary Series presented by Hedgebrook at WICA always reveals some intriguing tidbits about the writing process.
Hedgebrook celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Take a look here to see what else Hedgebrook is up to and what authors might be coming to lend their voices to the next good read on the charts.
Pour a glass of your favorite island wine, curl up with a book and enjoy!
From the heart,
Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist, writer and the editor of this magazine.
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