Monday, October 6, 2008

Cousins Weekend

Around the time Grandma passed, some of my "girl cousins" and I started talking about how Grandma had been the driving force behind many of our gatherings. We met in May, because it was Grandma's birthday. And we met at Thanksgiving, because Grandma's family had always done so and we were expected to be there. We were worried that with Grandma gone, we might just drift away from each other. So we hatched a plan to get together on a regular basis, just to do silly things and enjoy the benefits of family.

Last spring was the first "cousins weekend," an outing to Chicago. Kate, Christy and I (with Mary in tow as an honorary cousin) took the city by storm, and I will never forget our adventures tittering with the crowd during each reveal of Forgetting Sara Marshall, or singing along at the top of our lungs in a piano bar while the Asian guys at the next table tried to join in. It was fabulous, so much so that we decided to do it again.

And so, over the weekend I met up with Christy and Julie to crawl up a portion of the Southwest Michigan wine trail and attend an Indigo Girls concert in Kalamazoo. I drove around the lake on Friday night, with a slight delay after I realized 75 minutes into the trip that the concert tickets were on my kitchen counter. (Rick proved his wonderfulness once again by hopping into his truck and meeting me half way, thus saving me a lot of time). I got to St. Joe around 1:30 a.m., spent what was left of the night on Christy's couch, and the next morning we were off.
Karma Vista Winery is beautiful - it reminds me of what I expect Napa Valley wineries would look like, if I ever visited one. I picked up two bottles of their Starry Starry White (one for the wine gift basket we're putting together for the church bazaar auction, and one for myself); but they also had some very tempting cherry-based sauces and chutneys and such. I had to keep reminding my wallet to pace itself.

We also visited the Chocolate Garden and Grandpa's Cider Mill before meeting up with Julie at St. Julian's in Paw Paw. The Chocolate Garden's truffles are decadent, but I also found myself fascinated by all the old buildings on the property. And next door, Grandpa's Cider Mill has acres and acres of apples surrounding a shop that features a floor to ceiling view of the cider press in action as well as a huge variety of gourmet sauces, oils, jams, bakery, and of course cider. We walked out of there with a great loaf of crunchy bread and Basil-infused olive oil for munching after the concert; honneycrisp apples and apple cider donuts for breakfast; pumpkin butter and pear almond chai jam; and of course cider. We decided to skip Contessa Winery at the last moment, having spent a lot more time at Grandpa's than planned.

The St. Julian Winery is a lot more metropolitan than I expected - no rolling vinyards, just a little courtyard and a big building. But the wines they offer are top shelf. Sampling their port was like drinking 6 or 7 things in a row, as the flavors developed and unrolled across my tongue. But their Creme D'Or dessert wine took my breath away, and I had to cart some home.

We wandered over to the little winery in the waterworks building next door, but found their products to be unremarkable. (I tried the port, and it tasted like . . . port. A one-act show.) Just the same, we had a good time goofing around on the bridge in front of their building and generally acting silly.
We ended the evening with a wonderful meal at a tapas restaurant, followed by a wonderful concert, followed by a wonderful after-event period of laying around on Dad's big comfy wrap-around couch, sipping our beverages of choice. Topics were free-flowing and at times too private for a blog, but we talked about everything from religion and how much we missed family members who had gone before us, to pet peeves and favorite appliances. The topic of politics was strictly avoided, by common agreement.
The next morning we packed Dad's house back up, posed for a few pictures and made a last run at Meijers together, and went our separate ways. But we have each promised to immediately start planning for another April weekend in Chicago.
Cousins are a blessing.

1 comment:

Christylea said...

We are so lucky to have each other!