1729 Wine and spirits
The Growing Season
by Nelson Boschman, with a foreword by Lois Cho
Vancouver: Nelson Boschman, 2022
$23.99 / 9781778083105
Reviewed by Dennis Wilkinson
Nelson Boschman displays an orgasmic-like giddiness towards wine. He is the eight-year-old at Christmas time, and wine is the biggest present under the tree with his name on it. This book is that boy ripping open the present and then running around the neighbourhood showing everyone the wonder and delight of such a fantastic gift.
Boschman’s enthusiasm is contagious. His writing style is disarming, casual, and humble. But a book about wine and spirituality for a guy like me? I knew this would be a stretch! I’m a non-wine-loving Philistine who is far more interested in history books and biographies than spirituality. But I like Nelson Boschman, and if he was going to all this trouble to write a book, then I was going to take the trouble to read it. And I’m glad I did.
First, I learned a lot about wine. The Growing Season exposed a gaping hole in general knowledge on the subject for me, but then he filled me in — at least somewhat. I now know what a punch down is and how lemon, salt, and cheddar can advance your wine-imbibing experience. Granted, Boschman’s passion for the nectar of the gods isn’t sending me scurrying off to the liquor store to find some Pinot Noir and then ring up all my hockey buddies so we can cleanse our palates and sniff and swirl the good stuff, taking care that we do so in a room properly illuminated with neutral lighting – but he did manage to pique my interest, which is saying something for a grouchy old barbarian like myself. And I appreciated the high value that Boschman puts on cultivating friendships, with or without wine as a social lubricant.
Secondly, I appreciated Boschman’s spiritual insights and how he masterfully wove them into his love affair with wine. I connected with his comments on All-over-the-place-ness versus Some-where-ness. Just as wine has a place from which comes its characteristics and identity, so do humans, but some more than others. As a member of the All-over-the-place camp, I was reminded of the adage that comparison is the great killer of joy. For those of us less grounded, Boschman reflects that, “All-over-the-place-ness isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. But the absence of a distinct somewhereness does make me long for a deeper sense of connection to a single place.” I have that same longing to belong, to have my feet planted somewhere, and perhaps someday I will.
I heartily agree with his insistence on being quiet. For me, the best soul medicine is to sometimes stare out across the water in silence, taking care only to breathe. Finally, I like how Boschman pushes us away from a purely cognitive faith:
What if a vibrant spirituality is meant to be more than cognitive understanding? What if faith is not primarily mental assent to a list of beliefs but a way of being? How is it that so much religious life has treated humans not as multi-sensory beings, but as a mere brain on a stick? These are huge questions, and we don’t have the time or space to engage them all. I want to invite you to ask them through the lens of your own experience. To humbly consider whether there might be more to your life with God than what you’ve assumed. Like good wine, life in and with God is meant to be savoured, enjoyed, embodied, experienced as good.
I’m not always so confident that those experiences with God are possible, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing they were.
Dennis Wilkinson is a happily married father of four who has lived in downtown Vancouver since 2010. He loves writing, reading, public speaking, making you-tube/ Vimeo videos and hockey. He is currently the building administrator of the Veterans’ Memorial Manor on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Additionally, Dennis loves to travel when circumstances allow. He has written a book, Escaping the Mortal Cage, which he hopes will be published one day. Dennis’s varied and eclectic writing can be found at his website. Finally, his most popular YouTube video just so happens to be entitled Watermelon Elephant for Mistin’s Birthday. Please check it out! Editor’s note: Dennis Wilkinson has also reviewed a book by Sarah M. Stephen for The British Columbia Review.
The British Columbia Review
Publisher and Editor: Richard Mackie
Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an on-line book review and journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Barry Gough, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies.
“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster