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French Laundry’s Gardens

My husband and I jumped in the car, drove over the hill to Yountville, and strolled through the French Laundry's vegetable garden. I have always loved that place. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that costs on average $1200 a meal, and didn't have a sign out front? Supposed to be the most expensive place to eat in the US. The No. 2 is in NYC.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be able to eat there again. I have enjoyed it several times. But this time around, my feast came in the form of eye candy. An avid organic gardener for 40 years, I love to watch how plants grow, especially plants that bring health and vitality and contribute to a meal costing $1200. That does get my attention.

I view gardening as the next best thing to having children or great sex. And those two are tied for first. I've enjoyed getting dirty every day now for four decades. It's part of my DNA.

Seeing a well-tended garden brings me to tears, and Saturday, I must admit, I had a hard time talking. I smelled the tomatoes (since I didn't have permission to pick them) and the fresh basil. I looked at the roots of the bush beans to see how close they planted them. I looked at the seed potatoes they had just dug up. I even looked at their 8′ tall compost pile I was tempted to rifle from. But, I am not a thief. I reveled in the joy of growing things and how unfettered they displayed their wonderful, magical finery.

In the greenhouse, they had tomatoes staked up and growing like vines, held by twine and clips. Those snaky things at the bottom of the picture are vines that had been pruned, and probably would stand 12′-15′ tall if righted.

Between the rows they had sod. My gardener's delight burst forth when I exclaimed, “You can pick veggies in your bare feet!” How nice to be standing on something green, picking food your body will enjoy. The moist sod keeps the soil damp and weed-free.

I even enjoyed seeing their new little Frizzle chicks, exploring their own part of heaven. I could understand why someone planted savoy cabbage for them to nibble on.

Some years ago, I spent a Mother's Day up in Washington State with my roommate from college and her family, who were in the nursery business at that time. We put a long table down the center of the greenhouse, and had ourselves a feast, with rows of blooming plants. The aroma from their flowers almost overpowered the smell of the wonderful food we ate that day.

I think that if God ever gave up running things, he'd manage an organic farm. And he'd have office meetings in the greenhouse. And talk about redemption and all things new. Where it is inspiring to just be alive.

Isn't this really Heaven on Earth, after all?

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
WriterGirl - September 19, 2011

What a great post, Sharon!! Love it!! I adore Yountville, one of my fave places!

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Sharon Hamilton - September 20, 2011

One of my favorite places on earth too. Thanks for stopping by, Laura.

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anthony stemke - September 20, 2011

Never been to Yountville (but I have been to Blountsville, Fla). Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.
Thank You.

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Julia Rachel Barrett - September 20, 2011

Yes, great place. I love the gardens and the food is ethereal. Like a really amazing LSD trip.

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Sharon Hamilton - September 20, 2011

Anthony,
You would love it. You'd figure out a way to stay here. I'm just over the hill, and I didn't want to go home!

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Sharon Hamilton - September 20, 2011

Julia,
LOL. In my 20's it was the sex that was part of the trip I liked the best. But now, ahem, it is truly the food. Orgasmic, on so many levels. Heard someone say last night that they imitated the scene from Tom Jones, and thought they did a pretty good job of it.
Now that will be something I'll have to rent again…

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Arletta Dawdy - September 21, 2011

Sharon,
You have a way of bringing us into "the picture" with your word images. Thanks, I'll go "smell the roses" now..or maybe Robin's tomatoes.

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Sharon Hamilton - September 21, 2011

LOL Arletta. Roses or Tomatoes – either one of them works for me too. Both healthy for a different set of reasons.

Nice to see you here today.

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