Spring Sprung Sprang


by Maureen Gaffney

Believe it or not, spring is about to be sprung upon us. One day you’ll be trudging about, winter’s clouds sticking to you like an old, oversize coat, a subconscious malaise settled into your very fiber. You’re like Ior from Winnie the Pooh—“It will never, ever be sunny again…”  And without warning, out of the corner of your eye, a tender green shoot, the yellow of a daffodil, the purple of a wild iris shakes you from your stupor. Sure, rains may still come, and they might even knock those cheery cherry blossoms off the trees, but it’s too late. Something essential has clicked over and your grumpy pants will be cast off, relegated to the back of the closet until next winter comes around and the cycle starts anew. 

For those of us lucky enough to live, work or visit, late winter/early spring in the Napa Valley means mustard. Fields, clouds, carpets of happy, bright yellow that will make you wish you were a bumble bee. Fun Fact: in addition to being utterly, inherently Instagram-able, the mustard is more than a pretty backdrop causing psychotic traffic behavior on Highway 29—it is a cover crop planted in the fall that acts as a natural pest control agent against nematodes—little bad worms that like to munch on grape vine roots.

Instead of throwing your lot in with those making questionable driving decisions—“But officer, I simply had to put it in reverse and weave backwards across both South and North Highway 29—did you see that shot?? My followers will just swoon!”—consider taking in the view from the VINE TRAIL instead. On existing segments of trail between Napa and Yountville are several opportunities to get your mustard on without incurring the wrath of your fellow driver or the CHP. And by this time next year, an additional 7.4 miles of VINE TRAIL will be newly minted between Saint Helena and Calistoga. According to this handy “Mustard Map” created by Visit Napa Valley, there will be an abundance of new locations on the trail to bask in the bright yellow glow of this nematode-fighting harbinger of spring!