Napa and its valley are known for wineries, and the territory lives up to expectations.  There are fields of grapes everywhere you look.  I even found a small plot of grapes in a small park in St. Helena, the town where our conference was held.grapes in park

There was a vineyard across the street from where our conference met.  The first day I had time to wander over for a closer look, the plants looked much like the one in the park, the grapes tucked among the leaves.  The next day I went back with my camera and found this:grapes in field

My guess is that this is to give the grapes more sun.  This would also make them easier to pick, but I think the savings in labor at that point would be balanced out by the work of pulling each laden vine down.

My hotel didn’t serve breakfast until 7:00, so I was often up and working on my writing assignments before then.  One morning I looked at the usually empty field outside my window and saw:balloon 1

Though New Mexico is famous for its balloon events, I had never seen one being filled.  A slow process, requiring patience, and from the look of the number of people walking around, considerable co-operation and precision. balloon 2

I continued to watch until the balloon left the ground.   Two people remained behind to fold up the ground cloths which had protected the balloon from the dirt. balloon up

By the time  I left for my workshop, I could find no trace of the balloon in the sky.

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