it’s been years since i’ve been to pacific grove on the monterey peninsula. i had a strong urge to be in that wild place and walk the footpaths of asilomar state beach. a midwinter retreat as i close the chapter of this book of 2019.
so on the day after christmas i climbed into my sturdy chariot and headed north. i followed my instincts and avoided the grapevine (interstate 5) as the snow levels had dropped quite low in the recent storms. good thing i did, as i found out later it was closed to travelers. i rode instead through the oak- dotted blonde hills of hwy 101. past missions and tiny towns i drove, my car dipping and rising with the road.
all the way to and through john steinbeck country. until at last i arrived here to narrow boardwalks that wend their way through the coastal dunes of pacific grove.
i stayed at the same little hotel i’ve been going to for the last 15 years. anticipating your questions ahead of time, i’ll let you know the name: the sunset inn. nothing fancy, mostly i just like the location nestled in the trees but an easy walk to the water.
blue surrounds you here and even though the christmas season seems particularly busy with people, it’s not hard to find solitude out among the rocky outcroppings.
after a couple of days i headed north to the redwoods of cazadero.
all the way to this cabin where i am surrounded by a creek and tall trees.
years and years ago one of you (sally edmunds) told me about cazadero and the little bolt hole you escape to among the redwoods. the image of that never left me and i knew one day i’d get out to this far corner of my beloved california and see it for myself.
it’s quiet here. a ribbon of pale green water runs just below the deck of the cabin i rented.
there has been rain and sun. mist and a dark forest. fires in the hearth and more hot soaks than i can count.
green moss and sunbeams that ricochet off dark trunks all the way to the forest floor.
fallen redwood needles make the ground soft and springy.
here is a glimpse of the cabin from the outside.
and there is my chariot finding a place to rest between 2 massive redwoods.
i’ve been driving 15 minutes to the coast most days to walk a bit, above and beside the mighty pacific.
the surf is violent here and i prefer to walk above it. sleeper waves are common and the beach face is very steep. thanks to my vivid imagination i’ve already been knocked over by a wave and am drifting out to sea clinging to a giant driftwood tree that hasn’t managed to crush me yet.
beach walks here? no thank you.
i saw a few foolhardy people wading in the water, but i know better than to put even a toe into these waters. they are deadly.
plenty of trails snake along the bluffs above and the view is terrific.
i have a healthy respect for the ocean’s power and would never walk on these particular beaches with such unpredictable wave patterns
i did find a beach that didn’t back into a mountain and i sat and let myself be mesmerized by the enormous waves.
i collected a good assortment of driftwood to carry home to the garden.
soon it’s time to return home to a fire and books…
…my journal and a soak in the hot tub.
a mid-winter retreat at the darkest time of the year. a reflective time of thinking, writing, being languorous, drinking coffee, taking naps, steering my mind as far from school as i can manage.
i started writing this last night, but got sleepy. across the creek at night i can see a cabin with gold light spilling out of the windows.
this was supposed to end here, but i can’t leave without telling you that my favorite fiction of 2019 was this:
terribly good and compulsively readable. from beginning to end. i listened to it on my drive up here to cazadero and finished it as i pulled beside the cabin. it was a heartbreak to finish. i just didn’t want it to end. now i’m reading olive again and enjoying, but of course not as much as the dutch house, still i would recommend it.
i would NOT recommend unsheltered (barbara kingsolver)i gave it my best shot, but when i was 40% through it, i just couldn’t give it another minute of my time. don’t take my word for it though, you might love it!
i meant this to be my last post of 2019, but instead it’s my very first postcard of the brand new decade. hello hello hello out there. sending you a smoke signal just to say happy new year. hope you’re tucked in somewhere good. reading something spellbinding, writing your lives into being, walking under a canopy of trees or bare branches, beginning your own brand new year.