Terroir is often spoken about as if it’s a fixed construct; unmovable, definitive. It’s as if the terroir of Burgundy, for example, lives off in an ethereal realm, elusive yet sacrosanct; something to represent and uphold at all costs. Carrying this example even further, what defines the terroir of Burgundy’s most coveted sites, after all? Standing on the hillsides there, observing those storied sites, one comes to understand that many of them came into existence not because of their ephemeral terroir, but as the result of man-made choices bound by history, logistics and practicalities.
While Nature can provide great solace and solitude, it can also be the source of great bonding with other human beings. I have had some of my loneliest moments walking through bustling European cities where I cannot speak with the locals, cannot ask for directions, and have trouble ordering a simple meal. Sometimes it’s hard to bond with anyone even if you’re moving through a sea of humanity.
Conversely, I have had some of the strongest and most memorable bonding experiences with others in remote locations, out in the wilds of Nature.
A few years ago, my family and I experienced such a moment while visiting the Sierras. We were visiting Kirkwood with the intention of doing some cross-country skiing. It took us a while to get there, so it was already mid-day by the time we got started.