Mendocino. I love it here, the sea air, birds, foggy skies, I want to live here. The tall cypress trees, ocean cliffs, sea lions, it’s the best. I can see a life for Alan, Jack, Fiona, and me here. A peaceful life, no more long commutes, no more traffic jams, no heart attack at fifty, leave the rat race once and for all. That’s my goal. Today we will go to Russian Gulch state park, which I did a little research and found out that this spot was partly named in honor of the Russian Fur trappers from early 1800’s who founded Fort Ross (up the road ways)
|“This settlement [Ross] has been organized through the initiative of the Company. Its purpose is to establish a [Russian] settlement there or in some other place not occupied by Europeans, and to introduce agriculture there by planting hemp, flax and all manner of garden produce; they also wish to introduce livestock breeding in the outlying areas, both horses and cattle, hoping that the favorable climate, which is almost identical to the rest of California, and the friendly reception on the part of the indigenous people, will assist in its success.” (Wikipedia)|
|— From an 1813 report to Emperor Alexander from the Russian American Company Council, concerning trade with California and the establishment of Fort Ross
I found this bit of history so interesting, especially considering our relationship with Russia, Europe, and settlers in general. I’ve been trying to convince Alan that we should sell everything and relocate to Mendocino. I can write and paint, he can work for the fire department. Kids can learn about the land.
Russian Gulch beach sits under the Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, an open-spandrel deck arch bridge. Jack, Fiona, Alan and I hike up a trail running on a bluff under the bridge. The structure is beautiful and strong. Jack and I walk ahead, Jack jumps over branches and watches out for poison oak. I am impressed, I’ve taught him well. We get down to our beach spot. The air is ice cold, the sky blue but the foggy wind still rips though us on the beach. Jack eats a bunch of chips, Fiona eats her sandwich. They want to play in the water, I tell them it’s too cold. I finally let them. They run to a trickling stream that runs out to the ocean, both get wet, come back, sit on chairs, cover up with beach towels. Jack and Fiona shiver and have goose bumps. They don’t last long before they need to go sit in the car, Alan takes the first shift. I put on my Irish sweater and sit on the beach, finish my glass of wine. Listen to the click of the tires, hum the rubber makes on the concrete on the bridge above. Shadows cast on the sand, dank and cold at the base of the supports. I imagine the rugged men and women trading on this shore, weathered hands and faces. On the rocks, little purple wild flowers grow, tiny perfect succulents. I take in as much as I can before I need to go back to the car and trade places with Alan.
We stay at the vacation home all day on July Fourth, no Mendocino parade this year, no fireworks. I haven’t read the news since we left on Friday. I need this. To escape. To watch wild turkeys and their babies eat bugs in the field and cross the street. To listen to the birds. To get away from the freeway, all the electricity. To get away from consumption of worries, toys, T.V., news, gas, arguments, stress, the hustle and bustle. Get away from the unimportant things. Consume the fresh air instead. Nature, doing less. Consuming less. Three-year olds are messy. They love to watch T.V. Jack says “Mommy” over and over until I say, “Yes Jack”. Even when I give him direct eye contact. Sea birds sing all morning, sky foggy and cold. Packing needs to be done. Trash needs to be picked up. Time to get back on the road and back the freeway. I want to get away from cars and freeways and airports and runways forever.