Promise me this, truly: To your list of tasks you will not attempt while driving 70MPH on the Great Coastal Highway coming south from San Francisco, add opening a package of grapes.
Through no grace of my own, I managed not to wreck my car, though I found grapes in every crevice for the next twenty-four hours. Grapes flew everywhere — green ones, and purple ones, and dark black ones that tasted so sweet, I truly regretted their loss. But I clung to the steering wheel and let them roll.
I cruised into La Honda shortly after 5:00 p.m. and climbed Route 84 towards my Airbnb. I found it, but discovered that you can park right next to the door, meant, at the top of a long series of steps which looked charming but posed a serious hazard to this unabashedly ambulatory gimp. I texted the host, and soon enough the husband and wife together guided me down those stairs, he carrying my bags, she with her arm extended to be a makeshift, moveable rail. I could not be angry with either of them, especially not when they explained that she had translated her native Spanish into clumsy English to prepare their listing.
I prepared a simple meal in the spotless kitchen and ate on china that I considered a bit too precious for a clumsy guest. Afterward, I started the new work that I came here to ponder. My eyes drifted to the window, as night wrapped itself around the redwoods. Eventually, I climbed the steep stairway and slept on the loft floor with its thin mattress. I did not wake until 5, when light began to dance off the tall trees above the skylight.
When I find myself this close to Pescadero, I do not resist its charm. Two hours after my breakfast, I donned my jacket, threw my tablet and wallet into my rucksack, and made my way to Downtown Local. It must be said that their coffee remains as stellar as ever, though the same cannot be said for their gluten-free muffins. But the clientele more than compensated for the freezer burn of their pastry.
I shared my table with young people in town to serve as YMCA counselors. I had noticed their radiant smiles as they burst through the front door. When one’s only offspring lives more than two thousand miles away, one greedily borrows other people’s children. They talked about their home towns (a native Californian; another from North Carolina; and a feisty young man from Brazil). They asked me how I came to be there. We compared notes about cities we liked (Chicago, San Francisco) and didn’t like as much (New York) or thoroughly despised (Los Angeles). Eventually, they shook my hand and departed for a day’s outing in Santa Cruz. I followed a few minutes later, headed to Davenport for lunch.
Later, I stopped in my favorite spot for seaside reading. I realized that my tablet held a few leftover stickers for my friend Beth’s deceased son Xander, and I placed one on the uppermost pole facing the Pacific. Then I remembered putting one on the outer post last year; and found that it had survived the winter. Xander’s view could not be more sublime.
Eventually, I made my way back to the tiny house for my last dinner here, my last evening, and my last night under the towering trees. As I sat gazing out the picture window, a Delta neighbor texted, We made too much salmon! Come over and have some! I studied the message and then replied, Well, thank you so much — but (a) I’m a vegetarian; and (b) I’m in La Honda! I added a photo of the trees above the house. He responded with one word: Beautiful. Indeed.
Whenever you fear that I’ve run away from home, just drive west and look for my Toyota RAV4 parked in a lay-by. If you spy a park bench on the ridge, there you will also find me, a forgotten book by my side, my gaze turned towards the mother sea. Don’t worry about disturbing me. Just sit down, and let the ocean breeze wash over you. I don’t mind sharing.
It’s the seventeenth day of the one-hundred and fourteenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
“I Have Loved Hours At Sea”
I have loved hours at sea, gray cities,
The fragile secret of a flower,
Music, the making of a poem
That gave me heaven for an hour;
First stars above a snowy hill,
Voices of people kindly and wise,
And the great look of love, long hidden,
Found at last in meeting eyes.
I have loved much and been loved deeply —
Oh when my spirit’s fire burns low,
Leave me the darkness and the stillness,
I shall be tired and glad to go.
Please note, this gallery has twelve photos. It seems to lag. If it gets stuck, click on one, then close it. That should kickstart the flow. Enjoy.