Editor: July 2006 Archives

By M.L. Hilton

(NAPA, CA) -- With the magnificent events of the Festival del Sole underway and just off the heels of the renowned Auction Napa Valley (raising more than $8 million in just four days) it is easy to think of Napa as a place where big things happen. And big things usually happen in big places – it just makes sense: there are lots of people with lots of dollars in big places.

I think the census for Napa County is still just around the 100,000 persons mark. After 20 years, it seems I have met a fair bit of them.

Amongst ourselves, we tend to complain that Napa is incestuous, which means, if you are planning on making a catty comment, be careful. The person to whom you are speaking is likely the sister of the husband of the woman who lives across the street from the person towards whom you were aiming your not-so-Christian comment. And if you are over 35 and want to date, some good advice would be to take your little party self out of town.

I am frequently reminded of how close we are as a community, but two recent events made it all the more apparent.

I was enjoying a wonderful mother-daughter dinner with my very head-strong 17-year-old at the fabulous Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. My daughter is never more behaved or more congenial when I am footing the bill for a meal that would please a celebrity.

I have a martini, or some amazing concoction from the bar; Amelia drives. I order the tomato soup – served in a crock with a pastry top -- it is the most decadent soup that I have ever enjoyed. My daughter gets the snails and we go from there through conversation and critiques about life. It is our time to connect, and Lord knows we need it.

But I digress . . . the last time we enjoyed dinner at Jeanty, I forgot to leave with my credit card. I didn’t even miss it. I did, however, get a call from my waiter. He was happy to return my card to my home the next morning as he dropped his son off at school. You could call that service, but I know that it is just being a part of your home town. My tip was good that night, but not THAT good.

The next event that brought home how closely we are all tied, was a recent garbage night. You know, the night you have to drag all your garbage cans to the curb. My cans, all three of them, would easily fit my 5-foot, 100+ pound frame. I struggle, I pull, I crash into things and I get them on the street usually late, and usually when I am attired in my pajamas.

This particular night, a very fast little car, swooped through the neighborhood just as I had my recycling in hand. I gave a hoot at the car, yelled “slow down,” and dropped bottles and cans (making quite the racket) in the street.
Muttering to myself as I cleaned up the debris, I get in the house to the ringing of my cell phone. It is my daughter who is out-on-the-town. She wants to know, if I was throwing things at a passing car on our street. The teenage network had ratted me out.

Now, how small town is that?