First steps

Life is a series of first steps.

Well, not all of life’s steps are first steps but there are those moments when we do take a first step to: forgive someone, toward either mental or physical healing, when we enter a classroom and are introduced to an idea that’s foreign to us, when we are leaving on a trip and when we feel it’s the right thing to make an apology.

And then there’s that thing about taking our first step…

We were recently in New York City to celebrate our second grandson’s first birthday and he’s on the verge of taking that first walking step.

We tried to coach him to take the step while we were with him and we had a wonderful time urging him to take it. We held his hand, got him in position and released his hand hoping he would launch into a walking stride. He would hesitate, think about moving, wobble back and forth and then … sit down.

While in the Big Apple, we attended a Yankee/Twins baseball game and I took my first step into the new Yankee Stadium. There’s so much history associated with the Yankee franchise and I basked in that historical glow. I thought about seeing Mickey Mantle play his last game at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. I reflected on seeing Harmon Killebrew hit a home run against those darn Yankees and on so many other memories of those two teams. It was a fantastic time even though we had to leave in the third inning because it was so cold! Yes, it gets cold in NYC!

The people we were staying with live on the eighth floor of their apartment building and we were forewarned the building’s elevator was out of service. As I took that first step up the first flight of stairs, I could only imagine what I’d feel like as I took that last step on the eighth floor. Especially since I had a suitcase and bag to lug up those eight flights of stairs.

While in the city, I got to take a number of first tasting steps. We ate at a Greek restaurant and enjoyed the ambiance and the food. I got to sample my first Greek beer called Fix Helles Lager. I can’t say it got me to see or think of Greece but it was an enjoyable easy drinking malty beer. It reminded me of good old Grain Belt.

When in the city, a lot of getting around is by subway and that’s always interesting. It’s quite incredible how efficiently the system runs and its interesting to sit/stand in the subway car and watch the people as they travel from one station to another.

Coming back from Yankee Stadium on the subway, our 4-year-old grandson was not happy because he was cold and tired. It had been the first baseball game he’d ever attended and even though he was with his dad, his papa and two uncles, he wasn’t happy.

In the subway, he came crying to me and climbed onto my lap. We cuddled for a long time trying to get him warm and at peace. It was my first step (among many that day) in trying to make him comfortable and when we finally succeeded, I was rewarded by his dad with a bottle of Raison D’Extra ale. It’s made by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware, and is made with good malt, brown sugar and raisins.

If you want comfort, here’s the beer for you. It pours beautifully brown into your glass, has a soft sweet aroma and then the taste sets you at ease with its sweetness and its finish of tasty raisins. I really liked it.

After a hectic day of celebrating and late into the evening, it was time for a nightcap and, that’s when Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey arrived in front of me. Good things happen to those who wait!

Monkey Shoulder is a blend of three different Speyside whiskeys and it’s a wonderful way to end a day. With a bit of ice to accompany it, the drink is softly quaffable, has fine roasty flavors and a touch of barley taste to make it a welcome evening companion.

Of course, we had to sample a couple of wines, too. We were treated to a couple of Trinity Oaks wines — a Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of them were a welcome break to the frenetic activity of birthday and half-birthday celebrations and, in my mind, the Cabernet Sauvignon with its luscious cherry and its slight bit of vanilla taste and then ending with its dry finish was the better of the two wines. Others choose the Pinot Grigio with its mild lemon/lime flavor and minimal tartness.

Maybe I’ll take another taste of the Pinot Grigio and take the first step to welcoming it to my wine cellar.

The lesson in all this? Don’t be afraid to take that first step into something new — life is filled with first steps that lead us to life. Oh, our grandson didn’t take his first step while we were with him and I climbed those eight flights of stairs with “minimal” discomfort!

Next week, heritage in a bottle.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!