California in October has charms, but I learned them later. For me, as a serious aficionado and sommelier, it is harvest. The hot days and cooler nights mean the brix count is going up, and the grapes are begging to be picked clean. The light, toasty, fruit-fragrant smell of the vineyard is an allurement I’ve not resisted for some time. Fall is harvest and fruit. It is heat and light–and cool gray dusk. I miss the changing leaves and cool days of the Midwest and east, but I am ensconced here. I am in love here–and my people, my daughter–are of the west.
So when I bought a car 12-years ago this month, it was practicality in mind. What I got was unique, a box-shaped little go-kart of a vehicle, easy on gas, simple to drive and manage, yet because of its resemblance to a toaster more than anything, it held people and dogs and things.
My wife bought me the license plate. She attempted to have it printed, “Wine Box.” But the state of California in its odd and momentary Puritan sing-along, wouldn’t let her have that. So she ordered “Wine Bx.” They let that go through. Evidently, their understanding of the citizens of this state doesn’t go much beyond the literal.
For the past 12 years, my little Wine box was the able-bodied, reliable, if humble, transportation that was recognizable around town. Shannon was 4 when we got that car and her first trips in it included a car seat to comply with the state law. Before its last run in our family, it was the first car she drove as she earns her license. I drove it to Phoenix, AZ to visit with my family there in 2010 and I drove it to the Central Coast countless times to write stories about wine for any number of magazines. I drove it to San Francisco once, not long after I bought it–and it took us north of Bakersfield to fetch another family car that failed us on a trip to see the Sequoias.
I was attached to the thing. Scoop, Simon’s predecessor, was a frequent passenger. He and I got to the point where he would travel with me to the grocery store, to Target, wherever. I think about that from time to time. He liked riding with me–and he didn’t mind waiting for me while I was in a store somewhere. Simon is a great companion and I love him as much as I loved Scoop, but he’s not a traveler. His rides in the Wine box were marked by chaotic shifts from front to back, tripping over himself and landing in awkward positions. Only once did he come to a store with me–he nearly tore the car to pieces in my brief absence and while I take him places still, he can’t be left alone in a vehicle. He’s simply too co-dependent.
The box’s monetary worth shrunk in recent years, to the point where the recent repairs it needed exceeded its value. I thought momentarily about going into more debt for the bill because of my attachment, but in the end–it’s metal and rubber, plastic and oil. I believe in making it a point not to get attached to things–people, yes. Dogs, certainly–but not things.
I sold it today for a mere $400. My mechanic, Todd, bought it from me and I was pleased. He’s a good guy and he’ll use it either for his own daughter or turn and sell it. Either way, it will get some new life with someone who needs it. It has life left in it, but it was beyond my practical ability to keep pumping the money into it .
It was a good car.