On the very last hour of the very last day of my summer vacation I will not ask, where all the days of the summer have gone? I will know.
10 hours were spent driving up to the village of Mendocino. Once you leave the long central valley, climb and descend the coast ranges, and arrive in the foggy wonderland it is 50 degrees cooler.
Days were spent falling under the spell of the plant kingdom.
On this northern coast in summer especially, ocean upwelling draws cold water from the depths and a combination of wind and geography sweep the fog back and forth over the headlands.
Like magic it erases trees, houses, ridgelines within minutes.
Perfect conditions for rambles here and there.
I always make use of my reciprocal membership from Descanso Gardens to visit the Mendocino County Botanic Gardens. The dahlia garden is nestled in a small clearing surrounded by tall eucalyptus, pine, and cypress.
If there were only a dozen or so shrubs it would be glorious, but there are more than 400. The variety and geometry in the way the petals arrange themselves is breathtaking.
There are 47 acres here filled with wonderful walking paths that lead to ocean headlands.
With a membership you can visit the garden an hour before it opens to the public and have the entire place to yourself. Check your local garden membership because it might have reciprocal benefits through the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program. My membership at Descanso grants me admission to more than 250 botanical gardens across North America.
The knot of worry I brought with me from Los Angeles disappeared within a day of arriving. How good to feel that lift and move away. If you have animal or human companions, you know this story. How the mental tangles and loops can be so constricting.
Fear is a difficult place to live. Being outside in the wild world and close to the water is a balm. Walking on marine terraces that formed a million years ago makes one think about our short little lives. When my mind is wrapped in worry I think of this quote from Rumi:
Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
Lately I have a new listening practice for staying HERE. Being here and out of my head. I listen to the sounds of neighborhood life or headland life. Gulls, ravens, shorebirds, wind, water, rain. Cars, dishes clattering, a spoon clinking against the side of a bowl. A glass on the counter. More birds. Someone is sweeping. Tuning into the sounds of the world. I find it enormously helpful to listen and breathe and sit.
I’m reading Joko Beck’s Ordinary Wonder: Zen Life & Practice
“There is only one thing we need to know. To experience life fully pay attention when we experience something. Feel it. Be curious and friendly with it.”
Back to the random accounting of my days of summer…
I have been here. Really been here. On my porch. In the forest. Beside the water.
I sat outside and in front of this window and didn’t paint or draw a single thing even though I brought all of my supplies with me. I was too busy watching the birds at the feeder and the fog.
This trash can in Fort Bragg.
Otto & Iris are living their best little lives. They are going to be petite cats, not sumo wrestlers.
They’ll return to a vet in a few months and we’ll see how the supplements are working and where to go from here. In the meantime we are a family of mammals – living together and sharing lots of good moments.
I found a marvelous cat whispering Italian pet sitter (from Milan who lives in LA) that I’m crazy about. She sent me photos daily and they weren’t shy around her! She has such a way with animals. I feel lucky to have found her.
Wind-swept marvels. I wished I had stayed the entire week, but I was only gone for 4 days. I almost cancelled completely, but I went anyway. I talked to myself on the way, everything will be fine.
And it was.
Last summer when I was away, my dear Corky needed emergency vet care. It was the beginning of the end for her. The cat sitter went above and beyond, but the prognosis turned out to be terminal. It was all very fast. Then Wyatt began his great decline. I somehow thought when I got 2 new kittens I’d be home scot-free. No more worries for at least 10-15 years.
Now I am here. Learning to be with uncertainty and trying not to run away in a spiral loop of mental calamities, most of which will probably never happen.
These are my field notes on living. I write them mostly for myself. Journals and blogs are my containers for the things that can’t be contained. I clatter on the keys, scribble with my pens, and try and sort things out.
It’s my life’s work. Following the path deeper into the woods, but overall I haven’t got a clue where it’s headed.
It’s the last months of my 59th year of life. I like to think I’m settling into a good rhythm for my upcoming little old ladyhood, but who knows? If you sent in an application for the seaside commune for wayward old lady artists and misfits, I received it. Your names are up towards the top of the list. Everyone’s welcome. Come as you are.
My annual Great Craig’s List Giveaway was awesome. I handed off a Victorian photo album to a gentleman on a scooter wearing a giant pair of sunglasses and an arty hat in front of the public library downtown.
A nice old man who gave a home to my old dvd player & remote brought me some grapes from his garden in an orchid pot and left them for me last night on the old glider in my driveway. I heard someone say, “Thank- you” while I was sitting at the kitchen table, but I didn’t go to investigate thinking it was someone talking on their phone in the lane. This morning the grapes were there with a homemade card. If this sounds creepy, it was the opposite of creepy. It was lovely.
I got rid of plastic photo sleeves from the 90’s, art supplies, notebooks, old plastic storage containers, shoes, socks, pillowcases, sheets, blankets, a lock box, knick knacks, cat beds and cat food, the green velvet from last summer that no one claimed, candles, an old ottoman, and a magnifying glass. In LA there’s a sea of humanity out there that need things you don’t want.
I have a container labeled, “Craig’s List” in my garage and I deposit things inside it as I come across what I no longer need throughout the year. Then in the summer I start listing everything.
I loved reading the comments on my last post. It’s a privilege to send smoke signals out into the world and have real people sending notes back to me. For some reason, that I don’t have time or inclination to investigate thoroughly, I don’t get emails alerting me of comments, I just come here to read them. If I’m on the ball, I respond.
The 4th meeting of the middle-aged mammals is this Sunday @11 am. I don’t have a single thing planned as of this moment. You can check the class OMG blog between now and then to see if I post something. I’m getting ready to go sit at my art table after my afternoon summer nap with the kittens. Something may come to me. I have a feeling I know what it will be, but we’ll just see.
For now my summer brain salutes yours. Look up in the sky and watch for the tendril of fog I’m sending you from the north coast.