As I draw and paint my birds I think of this line from a Wallace Stegner book I read about a dozen years ago.
It is something- it can be everything- to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters. A fellow bird whom you can look after and find bugs and seeds for; one who will patch your bruises and straighten your ruffled feathers and mourn over your hurts when you accidentally fly into something you can’t handle.
-from The Spectator Bird
Solitude is good and so are fellow birds. I am grateful for both.
Climb aboard, let’s hit the road.
Mendocino is roughly 500 miles north of LA. Here is a postcard in images of the long way there.
Plus a few birds I’ve done since my last post.
My car hums along over the highways on the way north.
Over the mountain passes, through the canyons, into the central valley, around the San Francisco Bay, across bridges, through the forests.
Past the wineries and vineyards of the Anderson Valley. Beside rivers and moss-covered trees.
Sometimes I pull over to lean against trees and admire roadside shrines.
At last we’ve reached the dripping redwoods of Navarro. Almost to the coast.
I always like to pull over here. Redwood forests are hushed and still. On this day giant drops of water fell hundreds of feet from high up in the canopy all the way to where I stood below. A baptism of sorts.
Soon it will be my birthday. I’ll be home by then. Back to Moss Cottage for a quiet personal celebration of my 58 years of being alive. I was born in Solano county in 1963. Travis AFB. When I was still a babe the Moss family moved to Greece, then Spain, then Panama, then back to the United States when I was 12. And when I was a little 26 year old I moved back to the state of my birth – California. The golden state. It is dear to me, this place.
I have a wonderful cat sitter who takes care of Moss Cottage when I travel. She sends me photos and videos of Wyatt & Corky. It’s good to know everything is being looked after when I’m far from home.
I’ve stayed in this particular cottage twice. I love it. The owners next door are a nice older couple. I will probably return this coming summer. I like having a place on the headlands that is warm and familiar. It is like a ship’s cabin.
These last days have been ablaze with sun and light and the last fat moon of the decade rises huge over the trees, over the village. But tomorrow rain is coming. No matter. I will be here to watch the light bloom then fade.
These next images were taken in Fort Bragg a few miles north of the village of Mendocino.
Even though I just went through a decluttering phase a few months back I would kill for the 2 little cat knick knacks. Many years ago one of you sent me a cat knick knack that I was crazy about. Then it broke, but the head was intact. I kept that head for years in a pen can propped up by a pencil. Then decluttering hit. I gently placed the head into recycling bin. So, you see, I’m actually due for a new set of knick knacks.
Hmmm, I don’t think it would be right to separate the big cat from the little ones. You see where this is going.
Maybe if they’re still in the window this summer…
Shortly before sunrise I leave the cottage and walk onto the headland trails. The cold is bracing. I usually leave my phone behind because when I have it with me, I can’t focus on the walk. I get distracted with wanting to capture everything.
I compromise with myself and carry it with me every few days. The rest of the time it’s just me and the wind, seabirds, crows, songbirds, and the mist from the water.
I walk around to the different coves. Each is a different color. Blue, green, gold, sometimes frothy and white. Long ropes of kelp bob to the surface. There are sea caves and windows of erosion under the sea stacks. Worn away by the constant wave action.
The gulls practice their flight patterns and maneuvers. I wonder how long their flight school has been open in the exact same spot. How many thousands of years?
I go for a few walks every day. Sunrise, midday, sunset. Afterwards I draw rough maps into my writing journal of the routes I take
In between walks I settle in at my window seat and draw or paint. I’ll have a couple of art zooms with friends while I’m here. Probably on Wednesday when rain is forecast!
There are lots of trails on and around the headlands. They reveal themselves to me as I walk.
Most people you see out and about are wearing masks, myself included. I keep it down, but pull it up when I pass someone, which isn’t often! I’m grateful for the warmth around my face in the frigid air of pre-dawn.
I’ll wait until after the pandemic to return to my favorite coffee shops and restaurants here and in Fort Bragg.
I never tire of admiring the gardens of nearby houses. It’s fun to peek inside frosty windows in the evening and see Christmas trees, lights, other homo sapiens living their lives.
Happy new year to you wherever in the big wide world you happen to be. I’ll just be here on the headlands of Mendocino getting up to my usual business of living: walking, napping, arting, lighting candles, drinking coffee, reading, staring through my binoculars, watching the birds, tracking the movement of the moon and stars or clouds across the sky.
In the comments a couple of posts back one of you left this Rilke treasure:
And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been
And on that note I will sign off. Happy New Year dear people. Stay safe, keep warm.