Simple Gifts

A remarkable thing happens to me when I let myself stretch a little, when I take a little risk: the gifts come pouring in. These take many forms: a single blunt compliment, or the simple suggestion of a smile from someone wholly new. Or it might be a new request to work my craft, or to become part of a new enterprise. It might simply be a thing that in itself is just a thing, but is also something more, imbued with intent, an artifact of connecting, of human experience.

A new gift arrived today. This time it took the form of a bottle of Greek wine, an Aivalis Agiorgitiko, sent by someone I didn’t even know just a few months ago. But I’ve been stretching a little recently, reaching out with curiosity and a huge appetite to a community of wine and food loving people, trying to learn more. This is how I met Markus Stolz, a German who lives in Athens with his Greek wife and four kids, and who’s trying to elevate the stature of Greek wine abroad. I’d recently edited a piece for Palate Press that mentioned Agiorgitiko, and Markus discovered that although I’d had to fact-check the name, I’d never tried the wine. This was unacceptable, evidently—and bang, a bottle arrived by post two weeks later.

Yes, it was requited. In return, Markus got a quart of maple syrup from a sugarbush a mile from my house. He’s thrilled, and his kids are more so. But reciprocity is not the point. A gift like this tells me that I must be doing something right, that I’m taking the right kind of chances. Because now I’ve found someone on the other side, shouting back through the amber fog—someone I hope will be there for a long, long time.


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