We went on our "heart attack" hike this afternoon, so strenuous we always wonder if we'll make it to the top. Today it was kind of like bushwhacking through a big barbecue pit. Death Valley instead of Big Sur. The crematoria of the forest, full of silent, heavy energy. But tiny bits of green are popping through: ferns, bays and oaks. High up on the steep slopes the yuccas are coming back, white blooms like flags of surrender. Our boots slide through sand dunes of ash as we spot the few still smoldering trees off the trail. Predator scat and burnt carcasses are the only indicators of animal life.
There's something about loving the land right now that feels important. We are offering up our puny human love, our gratitude, to connect ourselves to it more deeply. I took a cat-nap in a friend's garden yesterday. Snapdragons amid a patch of grass, oddly surviving wooden bench overlooking the canyon and ocean below. The sun warmed my tummy and I longed to "ground" in that spot, for mutual healing, beloved soil mixed with a dash of my soul.
If you look carefully at our feet here on Partington, you'll find we have hair between our toes, we're Hobbits! We'd live in burrows with round doors if we could, coming out to tend our flowers, smoke our pipes, chit-chat and dance about under the stars. Nowadays we are busy here, gardening, organizing, re-modeling (I have a brand new kitchen, thanks to our friends and my industrious husband.) In between bouts of staggering work, we are drinking wine and laying about in the tall grass, breathing in the precious earth.
Sometimes I feel about 100 years old. When the air quality is poor it doesn't help. A sense of panic sets in when one can't take a deep breath. But those days are fewer now, and we're shifting our advocacy focus to the slides that are already beginning on the highway, and how to keep Big Sur from slumping into the sea this winter.
I want to say a special thank you to two men: John Knight, who gave me up to the minute, reassuring news on the fire on Partington when I was so fearful for the firefighters there, and Dave Egbert, communications man extraordinaire, who radioed Toby to take his Dad's regimental sword with him as he left the property. Here is a photo of the two of them, in calmer times.
We're taking it all a day at a time, hoping to keep having moments of that special contentment known only here. It's hard to concentrate, to be still. Tears come easily. Picture me, driving down the charred mountain, listening to Herb Alpert on my way to work (those goofy '60s Laugh-In tunes defy sadness of any kind.) That's the way to start the week!
Top of the Ridge
The Hobbit's kitchen
Sunset, dawn in the haze
John and Dave
Photos by Toby and Linda Rowland-Jones