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The Promise of Summer
With summer upon us, we've found some ways to keep cool when the temperatures soar. A lake, cool jazz, and a patio-sipping glass of wine are three of the best means we know of to destress, lay back, and enjoy all that the sun has to give.
Gone Fishin'
Mike treated me for Father's Day by buying a fishing license and some bait and taking me out to Parker Canyon Lake west of the Huachuca Mountains for a leisurely day of casting lines into the water. We caught a lot of rays, but only two fish ... little shavers who shimmied on the line but weren't ready for sizzling on the grill. Sure, there was one guy who reeled in fat juicy pan-fish after pan-fish, but what did we care? We were just happy to be on the lake and chillin' out on a day that reached 100º in Sierra Vista.

A Fish Tail

I told Mike to zoom in on the fish when he took the photo ... a big enough lens and nothing to put the fish into perspective can make even a minnow look like a keeper. Alas, he caught me in the photo, too.
So the only whopper that day was the story of the big fish I caught.

Mike sat on the shore with his pole in one hand and his camera in the other ... he's truly his father's son. To see a panorama of the lake and listen to Mike talking about catching, if nothing else, at least a picture of the ducks, click on the photo to the left to see a short video clip.

There were ducks aplenty swimming in the lake, including baby duckies. The white duck, at right, made a nice show of his wings when he swam by. To see, click on the photo to the right for a short video.

I'd forgotten how relaxing fishing can be. Watching a bobber float on the water, or watching the pattern of the waves and ripples is like sitting in front of a fire on a winter's day ... completely immersing. As proof, click on the photo at left to get an idea of the almost addicting effect fishing can have on us.

Cool Jazz
There's nothing like smooth jazz to take the wrinkles out of starched summer day. The Loew's Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson offers an occasional cool jazz concert on summer evenings and we caught one in June. Marion Meadows played a smooth soprano sax, and his band added enough spice to make a great salsa of sax, keyboards, guitar and drums that by turns rocked and romanced the setting sun. To hear a clip of Meadow's smooth jazz, turn on your speakers and click on the photo of the saxophonist below. (It may take a while for the music to begin)

The native-Detroit drummer, Steve Kersey, aka Jabari, stole the show. He played with the passion and intensity of the Muppet's Animal (which one of his band members later told me they sometimes call him), and after the concert I got one of his battered drumsticks as a souvenier. I'll hang it on my wall in the office to remind me that the greatest work in life is that done with passion.

The resort's cacti in the afternoon from our balcony, left, and in the morning along their nature walk, right, are fitting icons of the Sonoran desert

The etched glass balcony windows capture the spirit of the area

Fruit o' the Vine
Whether drinking a cool white wine or sipping a full-bodied red on the patio, wine provides a good way to chill out on a summer's day.

New vineyards are sprouting up all over the mountain valley west of the Huachucas in the areas of Sonoita and Elgin.

In early summer the grape fields are full of promise for the wine growers of southern Arizona. Surrounded by mountains, nestled in grassy ranch land, the growers plant their vines in the thin soil knowing that the hard-scrabble terrain, summer rainy season, and long days of intense heat will bring a harvest of bottled sunshine. The area around Elgin, a 30-minute drive from Sierra Vista, is fast becoming a wine mecca, with new wineries opening every season.

At left, the grapes at Callaghan Vineyards are beginning to take shape and color as they hang juicily on the vines growing in the red soil.

One of the few Arizona wineries nationally recognized is Callaghan's. When we visited a winery in Virginia this spring, the pourer found out we were from Arizona and offered that the only Arizona wine he knew was Callaghan's. Proof positive.

From Field to Barrel

Southern Arizona wine begins here, at left, and ends up in one of the barrels in the Dos Cabezas winery, found if you run your mouse over the photo at left.

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