[Trees, Pierce Ranch, November 2008.]
Yesterday I went to Pt. Reyes with some old pals and walked along a nearly-deserted Keyhoe Beach and took photos and caught up and it was just lovely. We stopped at Cowgirl Creamery on the way — my first time! mon dieu! — and I bought some cards and R bought some stinky truffled-goat cheese and a baguette and we drove through the winding, wet roads out to the sea. It was very foggy and damp along the coast, but we walked and walked anyway, all along the beach to the very end where the cliffs tumble into the ocean and you can’t keep going anymore, even if you wanted to.
It was a great day.
[Keyhoe, November 2008.
After, we drove just a bit farther and ended up at Pierce Ranch, where I hadn’t been since my birthday. I looked up at the eucalyptus trees through the fog and thought about all the cows that had lived and given their milk and died there, so very long ago. The white buildings, standing after 100 years, survivors of earthquakes and all sorts of weather, loomed solid and still. I stuck my nose through the crack in the door of the ‘bunk house’ and took a breath: it smelled of old wood and rain, of ships and salt. It smelled of memory and the past and all the possibility in the world.
Thank you, I said, very quietly. Thank you for this day, this place, this fog and rain and wind.
(I can’t tell you who exactly I was thanking, but in that moment I felt so glad just simply to be, out there with mist in my hair, with my friends, with good food in my stomach. You know how it is.)
[Cow barn, Pierce Ranch, November 2008.]
I love to go to places where you can see the past laid out plain and clear. The ranch hasn’t been a working farm in years, but when you look at the little building that was the schoolhouse you can imagine the kids from the various families who worked that land sitting and learning their lessons, some of them looking longingly out the window at the ocean just below. Probably some days were worse than others — like those sunny, wind-blown afternoons in March when spring barrels in early, or June, when the wildflowers burst and fall over the hills — and staying inside was unbearable.
(Oh, I know that feeling.)
It’s no secret my heart belongs to that bare, deserted stretch of coast and bay trees that compromises the Pt. Reyes National Seashore — I love it in summer, when I go camping in the sun and sleep to the sound of the ocean in my ears. I love it in early January when an unexpected warm front settles in and hiking out to Arch Rock necessitates the shedding of sweaters. And, apparently, I love it in the fog and wintry wet, too.
Or maybe it was the company? Or the elk? Or the apple I ate en route?
Before we set out I got a sandwich at the Whole Foods in Sebastopol (veg. burger, cheddar, avocado, vegan Russian dressing, lettuce, tomato) and thought I should have a piece of fruit to round out my lunch. I caught up a Honey-crisp apple quickly — always rushing, me — though I’d never had one before and headed home so I could be picked up and whisked away over the back roads to West Marin. After lunch — eaten in the car to avoid the rain drops — and the Keyhoe walk I remembered my apple and dug it out of my bag.
Oh, man. That was an apple. Tart-sweet, crisp and snapping, it was the perfect post-sandwich finisher. I mean, the elk that suddenly appeared like apparitions alongside the road out of the thick fog almost made me forget it in my excitement — but I didn’t, not completely. This to me is the mark of a good piece of fruit: even in the rush of grabbing up the camera to take some watery photographs a part of my mind was still fixed on that apple.
Alas, I’d only bought one and now I fear I’ll be forever looking for another that I know will never come close. Perhaps a repeat of today — with fog and intermittent rain drops — is in order. I’ll bring apples for everyone the next time.
[See Randy’s gorgeous photos of the day here.]