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Re-creation on the Rugged California Coast - Part 1
This week Larry and I have been housesitting for our friend Joseph and taking care of his cat “Kitty” while he is away. I wrote about visiting Joseph a few months ago in [Seven Dramtic Validations of Our Lifely Viewpoint: Finding My Own Utopia}= [Utopia]=https://lifelyforlife.com/pause-seven-dramatic-validations-of-our-lifely-viewpoint/#finding and now we are back in this wonderful place.
I just wanted to give you some idea about what it’s like to live in this place out on the rugged edge of the California coast and also tell you some experiences we are having.
First, I just want to say what we are doing here is what most people would call a “retreat” but we didn’t want to call it that.
To retreat is to “pull away from.” What we are doing is a “going in to.”
Yes, we are retreating from our civilized life, but that’s not the motivation. We are reaching toward a re-creation of ourselves, just as the word “recreation” states.
Our plan was to rest, explore, talk, imagine, and come home refreshed and ready for our next future.
And that’s exactly what is happening.
After all the chaos and uncertainty of this year, we are grateful to be here in such a place where we can restore and regroup.
Living here is actually very similar to the place I lived from 1985-1987 in Inverness, California, which is similarly situated right near the coast, although in Inverness there was a range of hills between my house and the ocean. But it was the same small village life, a good distance away from “civilization” with a long and winding road to get all the usual supplies or entertainments. Only this road is longer and more windy and over an elevation that has a sign that swivels to say “snow chains required” on snowy days.
The population is only about 800, so we rarely see anyone on the street. There is no “downtown” area with shops and cafes, but there are two restaurants and a pizza take-out. We have a general store, but we really have to drive over the mountain for groceries and stock up.
There are a few places where you can get coffee to go, but it’s coffee for fishermen, not for city girls, so I after trying to find coffee on our last trip, I am now making drip coffee myself every morning. At home, I like to go out to a local organic coffee place, both to support them being there and also just to get out of the house so then going home becomes “going to work.”
The Nearest Town
After arriving Saturday evening, on Sunday afternoon we made the 30 minute drive back over the mountain to Garberville, to find out where we might buy food and other provisions during our 18-day stay. There is a small general store here and two restaurants with occasional hours at this time of year, so we really needed to make sure we knew where and when to buy food because there are no reliable places to eat here.
Garberville is an interesting little town right off Hwy 101, which I am sure gets a lot of traffic during the summer when there are plenty of tourists coming up to visit the redwood forests.
There we found a store I have known for many years online called [Organic Grace]=https://organicgrace.com/, which carries everything for an organic lifestyle, including organic gardening supplies.
Across the street is a wonderful cafe called Woodrose, which has been serving local organic food since 1977! [[read my review on Wholefood Cuisine]]=(make post and link)
Down the street and up one block is a small independent natural food store called [Chautauqua]=https://chautauquanaturalfoods.com/, which has also been here more than thirty years. It's very tiny, only four short, crowded aisles, but we were able to find all the organic foods we wanted.
It was inspiring to see that in such a remote place that natural and organic is thriving.
The drive was just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. The road is through a mix of redwoods and deciduous trees that were all in various shades of yellow and at various points of leaves falling from branches. Some trees had lost so many leaves that the remaining trees had just a few leaves hanging like Christmas balls glowing in the sunbeams.
Right away—being here just for a day—I felt the difference being here. My body just relaxed into the natural environment that was free of the usual distractions of civilization. It is quiet and peaceful here.
I am just in another space. I wake up in the middle of the night and write pages and pages of insights about Life.
Here, now, I am basically in the house all day except when we go out to shop or go for a walk or a drive.
It’s a big house on three floors, all designed and hand-built by the owner. So I can so “somewhere else” by walking up and down the stairs. It feels nice to be in a house designed around the needs and creativity of an intelligent caring person who has many interests. He’s a fisherman, so when you walk in the front door, you see a whole wall of his fishing poles. He also has experience cooking in professional kitchens, so his kitchen is big with two sinks and work stations on opposite counters so two people can comfortably prepare food in the kitchen at the same time.
The big dining table is my desk, which looks out into the forest through a wood-trimmed sliding glass door. The wood stove is across the open-plan living space, and Larry tends it all day, so it’s nice and warm.
Our bedroom is at the top of the stairs, with views of treetops and sky. At night we can see the stars through the skylight and hear the crashing of the waves on the beach. I sometimes lie and bed and think there is nothing between me and Japan except a few blocks of houses and 5400 miles of Pacific Ocean. And it’s that ocean air that it coming in my window.
This is a very simple house, built by a man to meet his own needs, so it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of what is considered essential in a new sub-division house, for example.
There is no dishwasher and no garbage disposal, which is fine with me. I haven’t had a dishwasher in my houses for years.
And there’s no garbage collection so we have to be super vigilant about the waste we are creating and where it goes. I’ve actually done this in the past but have gotten out of the habit. Food waste goes to compost and there is recycling, but anything else that can’t go into a cycle somewhere is just trash. I’m looking carefully at what I’m putting in that bin. I remember years ago I started making my own ricotta cheese with milk from returnable glass bottles because I didn’t want to throw away a plastic carton every time I bought ricotta cheese. Now I’m looking at those kinds of issues again.
There also is no central heat, so it’s building a fire in the wood stove, blankets and sweaters. But, again, I’ve lived this way before and actually prefer it. I don’t like central heat and air conditioning that cuts me off from the real experience of the changing weather and automatically adjusts without my having to do anything.
We also don’t have TV. There is a television set, but no TV service. So we don’t watch the news. And it’s fine. It’s actually a lot more peaceful. We don’t need to know the minute-by-minute political antics that are going on. We can get a summary of anything important online. We do have internet. We watch netflix movies on my laptop in the evening, when we aren’t reading or talking or playing scrabble by the fire.
I feel very peaceful and secure, knowing that all my actual needs are met and all I need to do is write and be with Larry.
Food & Exercise
Even though we are “on vacation” and it’s been Thanksgiving, we actually are doing better with our eating than we do at home. Here we have complete control over what we eat—nobody else in the household is baking cookies or preparing dinners that are not our preferred foods. So we have been [happily eating according to our wholefood diet to control our weight an blood sugar.]
Before we left, Larry’s blood sugar was over 200 and his doctor wanted to give him a new drug. Yesterday his blood sugar was 89. We’re both losing weight.
And every day we walk out in Nature, usually at the beach.
We obviously know what to do. We just need to keep making this happen when we are at home.
One of the things I get to experience here now is just being alone. Being alone as myself and being alone with Larry, something we don’t get much of living with his family.
This morning I was whispering to him when we woke up and suddenly I said out loud, “I don’t have to whisper because nobody is on the other side of the wall.”
I am remembering what it is like to be in my own house, to be able to do anything I want at any time, to have my things around me in places where I can find them, and having space.
I’m having the opportunity to really look at what my needs actually are, being in a very different environment than the one I’ve become accustomed to for the past three years.
Seeing Nature More Deeply
Many years ago I wrote a piece called [Seeting Nature]=https://lifelyforlife.com/seeing-nature/. It was about a shift that occurred in me after I met Larry. He had an awareness of nature I didn’t have.
We were walking in the financial district of downtown San Francisco one day, a street where buildings tower so high, you can hardly see the sky. While my attention was on the store windows, he said, "Look at that bird nest!" Bird nest?!!?!?!
Nature is around us all the time, even in the most industrial city, but we don’t see it.
My shift that day was just to be aware of nature around me at all.
Now I am noticing things about the world around me I never noticed before. It’s like the environment itself is orienting me to see it differently.
I can see Nature better because I am here IN a natural ecosystem rather than a city or even the edge-of-rural town in which I live.
When we are driving down a road I see scenic vistas of the ocean from the top of a mountain, a river running under the bridge our car is crossing, the yellow deciduous trees casting their leaves to the wind.
The other day when we were driving the long road in I suddenly realized that while we were driving between two towns, we were also driving between two points on the Earth, and traveling through a whole change of terrain. I wanted to know all about it—the names of the creeks and the trees, the land formations and the elevations. It’s a very different orientation. I even to wanted to map the road and all the nature it moves through.
We are staying in a spot that is between a mountain and an ocean. And so the water is very much present.
If you go anywhere near the water for any reason, you become very aware that you need to know about tides. After my first visit i bought a tide table book, but I’ll admit I still haven’t studied it.
But yesterday Larry and I went for a walk on our down-the-hill beach.
It’s a big wide beach with a cliff, and there looked to be plenty of space between the point where the waves hit the shore and the cliff. But what I didn’t know was how far the water would push up the beach once it got onshore. As we walked I noticed that the water was coming closer and closer so we kept walking. I said to Larry, “The tide is coming in,” but we decided we had plenty of time.
About 20 minutes later we turned around to walk back but we couldn’t because waves were now running up a channel in the beach cut by a stream, all the way to the cliff, too wide for us to cross. Fortunately we could climb up the cliff enough to get around it, but it just showed us how careful we need to be on these wild and rugged beaches with 5400 miles of ocean behind these waves.
It’s a powerful experience to be right here where wind and water come right off the wide open space of the Pacific Ocean.