Life has taken a new and exciting turn over the last few months. Doug and I took the leap and went from our urban farm in Humboldt County to a real farm on 3 1/2 acres in the gold country of the California foothills. To say we are excited is an understatement. To say we have a TON of work ahead of us is putting it mildly. But to tend the land and grow our own food is a labor of love and one that I will take on gladly. There’s a huge disconnect between humans and where our food comes from. The more I read on what goes on in the hidden worlds of commercial farming and meat the less I want to eat anything that I didn’t grow or raise myself. This winter we’re installing the bones of the garden and digging out the holes for the bare root fruit trees that will arrive in January. This year garden, next year mending the fence and hopefully building the barn for some new goat friends. And then my dream of having my own horse will come to fruition. It’s all happening. I dislike the word ‘manifest’. I think people throw it around too much without meaning anything. A hollow word. But my friend said to me the other day that I manifested the shit out of my life . . . and well yeah I guess I did.
In these later years I’ve always felt myself to be a mountain girl. Which is why, even though the beauty here is otherworldly and unique, I’ve had a challenging time adapting to living in the redwoods. I’m here because I’m still a California resident and college is cheaper, I’m here because the university here has one of the best forestry programs in the country, and I’m here because I’m in love and creating a life with a special human. I still am hoping to strive to find a balance between the places I want to be in my heart. I’m also hoping that when I’m done with school and my partners ties with California have lessened a bit that I can convince him to at least part of the year, get lost in the great American west with me.
All this being said there is a beautiful and raw glory to this place. The trees rise above you and they are so ancient. Sitting beneath them you can almost feel them tell the stories of the past. Sitting beneath them I feel protected from the outside world. So silent but a strong silence.
And it’s wet here. It’s been a wet winter but apart from that it’s always wet here. The inland heat draws the fog from the ocean so even in the summer the mornings are shrouded in gray mist. Which means everything grows here. There’s so much green from ferns to moss. The rains have lessened and released an explosion in colorful life.
I went for a hike along the Headwaters reserve yesterday and dotted among the greenery was yellow buttercups, blue for-get-me-nots, purple iris’, little white flowers of the Star of Solomon. The red leaves of new growth on wild huckleberries bursting forth. It was a song of spring. I felt relieved to be outside and to feel the sunshine on my face. Seeing all the life made me feel a less homesick for the mountains and a new love for my current home. As I’ve always felt, it’s the little things that make up a whole.
The rain has started to fall again in the small Northern California town I call home. Tucked far away in the giant redwoods. It’s been a hard winter. The rain has barely let up. It’s made the ability to mountain bike almost non existent and there’s only so many rainy day hikes you can take before you just start wishing for sun. But I still try and maintain the ability to be grateful for all things. Our garden is flourishing, wild flowers are blooming. It’s the little things that bring the whole picture into a cohesive blend of green and red with pinks, purples, white. But for today I took myself out for breakfast to celebrate the end of my first semester back in college after almost 20 years. Life has shifted so much in the last 6 months. Most of me is elated but some of me is scared. There’s a great unknown out there that I’m not sure about anymore and I just have to trust that I’m making the right choices. Hopefully it will all make sense someday. Sometimes evolution is sticky and painful but it’s always with merit. This is a rare selfie. Whip cream and rainy days
With the decision to put down roots of some kind I also made the decision to try and move forward with a little dream of mine that I wasn’t able to achieve while being a nomad.
I’ve always wanted a farm. Grow my own food. Have chickens for eggs. Make jams and preserves. I, small, idealistic corner of the world where I could watch things grow and listen to the wind tell stories. We didn’t end up in the wild but as Doug said this is a stepping stone and what we have is pretty great and I’ll take it for now. We got a house in town but it’s a town in a pretty rural part of northern California. That being said we still had a decent sized yard so we made plans and went to work making our little urban farm a reality. There’s still so much improvement that could be done and we’re so excited to do it all but one step at a time and we’ve made great progress.
A full garden is in and already producing delicious salad greens and kale. We have baby chicks and ducklings that are almost ready to move outside into their coop. I love watching them. I call them my little meeps.
I’ve decided to change how I feel about this blog. Initially I meant it to be a record of my travels. I had it in my mind how the bones of it were going to be. But those bones didn’t fit with the rest of me. Some travels were meant left to my own memory. While other times I’m so busy with life that I didn’t travel and then what? Would there just be radio silence?
So this is going to be me. I travel, I live, I’m learning to be the best person I can. Life has so many ups and downs plus sideways roads to travel. I make mistakes and sometimes I make good choices but I’m always learning so that’s what matters.
My newest endeavor is going back to school. I thought I’d go back to school for nursing. Nurses always have jobs right? But I was looking at it all wrong. You need to enjoy what you’re going to do the majority of the time not just do it for a paycheck. And then I got sober and discovered mountains. And then Trump got elected and I sit on the edge of my seat hoping that not all the wild places I love will be taken away from me. So after my first semester back at school and some soul searching I decided to change my major to forestry fostering on wild land soils and wildlife. I feel so good about this change. And as a bonus I live by one the college that has one of the best forestry programs into country.
So I’m moving forward. I don’t know how this is going to go but I know I’m going to try my hardest and enjoy the ride
“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.” ~Edward Abbey
The wind blows and in turn it sings
I sit on the west-facing side of the Turret Arch watching the sunset. There are few times in this world that I have felt that at peace. I revel in it . . .
The high desert of Utah speaks to my soul. I went back this year for ten days to ride, climb, and adventure. My partner had never seen Moab before even though he had been a rock climber for going on 2 decades. We got to touch sandstone together.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted in here, I got overwhelmed in thinking I had to tell every detail in what I was doing. I realized that I don’t have to. This blog is an extension of me and my life. I can write as little or as much as I deseire.
As far as this trip to Moab . . I will say like I do everytime I go that I know why Edward Abbey was so fierce about protecting these lands. There’s magic there. I always feel a little more wild there, a little more free. It’s something that I will never lose, that feeling inside. Even sitting here in a cafe in Humboldt when the sky is gray and filled with so much moisture that one can’t even fathom a desert. I still remember what red rocks feel like under my hands and how big the mesa looked as I was riding past it, looming over me as it had others.
So I’ll have desert dreams and plot my return next spring. I’m sure I’ll have more to say but this enough for now.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”
I look back and sometimes I can’t even fathom the person that I used to be. For years I never really had an direction. And for the last many years alcohol had control over me. I was a drunk, messy, emotionally unstable. But at the time I thought I had it all together and that I was fun to be around and was living life to the fullest.
But I was wrong
In December of 2014 I realized I had enough. Two bottles of wine a day was taking a toll on my health and my spirit. On December 26th I quit drinking for one year. There’s so much to tell on my experiences in that year but I won’t do that now because I’m still processing everything that I went through. I fell in love with mountains and the outdoors. I replaced booze with climbing and hiking. I learned who my true friends are. I broke open like a seed and only just now am I a vulnerable green shoot reaching towards the sun.
But that is another story for another time. I made it a year. And I will continue to stay sober because this journey has only yet begun. But as a present to my one year of sobriety I bought myself a fancy mountain bike because there is more than one way to enjoy mountains.
In the midst of winter I dream of red rock. Southern Utah has captured my soul and I wrestle between mountains and deserts. Forests and Oceans. I want it all simultaneously! We live in such a beautiful world. There are so many times where I’m overwhelmed at all the places I want to go. Secret box canyons to national parks to the beaches in Costa Rica. But I need to slow myself down. One adventure at a time. One thing is for sure I will never get bored.
I recently moved my belongings from a storage unit in Oakland, Ca. (where they have lived for 3 years) to my parents basement in Larkspur, Co. The move was a necessity to save money but also a kick starter to a new phase in life but that is a other story and will be told another time.
My belongings were shipped while I drove in my trusty road beast Lucinda, my Toyota 4Runner. I took a couple of days and made some stops but my most favorite was in Moab. I”m in love with Moab. A seemingly perfect meeting between mountains and desert. Only about 30 miles off I 70 and you’re transported.
Below are a couple of snapshots of Arches National Park. I’m a tiny human in a big world.
“The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”
This is my first time updating from my phone. We’ll see how this goes. Coming live by the power of technology from deep in the woods in NorCal.
Just a quick thought actually
I love how climbing brings folks together. I was lucky enough to climb with two of my favorite people at two different gyms in two cities last week.
I’d like to find more climber friends. Reach out . .
Dana and I at Berkeley Iron Works
It’s been a while since I posted here. It’s not because I’ve forgotten. I’ve composed half finished entries in my mind over the last month or two. I”m not even sure how complete this one will be. The rattling on and on of a mind at work that is trying to also rest.
What I don’t think I’ve said in previous entries is that I work for Burning Man. And by saying that I don’t mean that I go out and volunteer for the event for just the week. I mean that I work for the DPW. More specifically for HEaT (heavy equipment and transpo) within the DPW. I drive heavy machinery for Burning Man. I’ve done so for years. Every year I spend 6 weeks in the desert building and tearing down was of the most wild and quirky festivals on earth.
This year was no exception. I was out there in the dust for a long time. I laughed and cried. Overcame many obstacles. Made new friends, strengthened old friendships and let some people go. I lost a friend to death as well. And above all I learned, again how mortal I was.
I could say so much but then it might be too much. I find that sometimes the simple ways are best. If we hold onto something too tight it just falls apart.
I’ve been abstaining from alcohol. My goal is one year. Maybe more but definitely one year. I made it through all of DPW without one drop of booze touching my lips. The hardest 6 weeks I can remember enduring. My friend, Spoono, died in his sleep in his trailer pre event. I still can’t even come to terms with those feelings yet. And the endless play of human dynamics. It’s a small town out there. And dealing with emotions in the desert is always so much harder than ‘real life’. But I survived, a little battle worn but I did it. Time for me to get lost in the woods for a bit. And then finally get back to mountains and climbing them.
Pictures are a thousand words so here are some of mine