When the egg and sperm were negotiating in my mother's womb about my fate, my dad's genes got the lions share of the gig. There are the obvious physical characteristics: dark hair, hooked nose, green eyes. But, it goes deeper than that.
We both love the mountains. We love land. When I was a teenager and we could hardly speak to each other with out fighting, we could happily hike in the mountains all day together. My parents' bought some land in the Central Coast area as a retirement investment and eventual retirement home. My dad planned to plant a vineyard. I planned to buy a horse and let it run on the hills. Neither happened, but we sure enjoyed the weekends and summers spent there. While he was busy putting in fence posts, I was walking down the road meeting all the neighbor's horses.
He also gave me the gardening gene. More specifically, the orchard gene. Growing up, we had many fruit trees crammed into our suburban backyard. He pruned grapevines, mulched the avocados and supervised our picking of plums. From him I learned to eat imperfect fruit; to nibble around the soft spots; to spit out the bugs.... you get the idea. When my parents come to visit us, my dad always takes a walk through the orchard.
My dad is also reserved and serious. He values integrity and honesty. The worst offense we could make as children was to lie or to pass the buck. He taught me to not care about the mistakes people made, but how they handle those mistakes. Do they admit, correct, learn and move on? Or do they hide, deny and lie? I taught my kids those same lessons.
My dad is also a lover of food and wine. Every since I can remember, he has eaten strange things. As a kid, I worshiped him so anything he tried, I tried. I especially remember the time we were in Europe on our way home from living abroad a few years. My dad would go up to the street vendors and buy pickled herring or sesame buns and we would eat it together. He also loves wine and, in addition to the vineyard dream, studied and tasted wines while I was growing up. My parents now live in the heart of California's Central Coast wine country. He makes wine with a group of friends and he introduces me to his favorite winemakers. He taught me how to taste wine and he gave me confidence. Confidence in your tastebuds is the most important part of tasting wine: Do I like it? Not, does it taste of tobacco and blackberries with a hint of cherry in the nose. Blah blah blah. Forget the labels. Does it taste good? Does it make you want to hold it in your mouth and then slide it off your tongue, down your throat, leaving a memory in your mouth? Trust that.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thanks for the great genes. I love you!