By Catherine Theilen Burke

The Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded with fog in mid-September as we headed for the NCTA picnic in Sonoma; once on the other side, though, as we started down the Waldo Grade, we could see the possibility of sunshine. Our adventure to the North Bay NCTA gathering had begun.

Jessica Berman hosted a potluck on her organic farm outside Sebastopol. NCTA members and their families came and had a picnic in an area that is fast becoming a gourmet capital and destination. The farms and vineyards in the region are bountiful and bring home awards for quality and artistry. Breadmakers in Sonoma, for example, recently won first prize in a national French bread-making competition. And this picnic was an opportunity to tour vineyards that have been winning awards of their own; after the feast, several groups left for self-guided tours of area wineries.

The picnic was well attended, leading NCTA President Michael Metzger to suggest, in jest, that we should perhaps change the format of our quarterly meetings to wine-tasting picnics! And why not? Sitting in the shade or under a canopy set up for the occasion, we took in a view across the valley that encompassed oak trees on the fields and rows of flowers for the market. People brought dishes to share and food to grill such as sausages, steaks, and vegetables. We tasted some of the vegetables Jessica grows on the farm, which has a stand at the weekly organic farmers market in Sebastopol. Jessica, who works as a Spanish interpreter in Santa Rosa, runs the farm with her husband.

As we all know, one of the main benefits to being a freelance translator (in addition to being your own boss) is that you can live anywhere as long as you have an electrical outlet and a phone connection. For those who might be thinking of relocating to the Sonoma area, it is truly a great place to live, possessed of a beautiful countryside, controlled development, proximity to cities (should one even wish to go to one), and a high quality of life. NCTA member Christoph Niedermair also enjoys life in the area, living in a house on a ridge in Sebastopol among pine trees and apple orchards. When he has time, he enjoys looking out his window and taking in the green surroundings.

In addition, the region is populated enough to have all the shopping conveniences one could wish for, while still retaining a rural feel. (San Franciscans take note: parking is no problem!) And Christoph believes that the minor inconveniences of rural living—a susceptibility to power outages in the winter, for example—is but a small price to pay for being able to live and work in such a beautiful area.

As we translators often communicate mostly through email and phone, get-togethers such as Jessica’s picnic offer wonderful opportunities for relaxing and leaving behind the constraints of our daily routines, for meeting other members, and just plain socializing.

A huge thank you to Jessica for hosting this delicious North Bay event.