Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Calaveras County

We didn't want to leave Calaveras County; it was too idyllic, green, whimsical and fun. There was too much yet to explore, like Mercer Caverns and the ultra charming town of Murphys. We were going to miss the County Fair in Frogtown, which I tried to de-emphasize for Max's sake. Max loves, loves loves frogs, and so does Alex. Angels Camp was full of froggy touches, which Max was suitably pleased with.

I will emphasize all the charm and beauty of what we enjoyed, like the Lake and the trees, the rose gardens that spilled over rock walls and picket fences, the night sky whose clear mountain air sparkled with diamond stars. Naturally I played with the idea of living there... maybe in town, in a 1848 town house, with a lopsided porch and window boxes full of candy apple red geraniums, or nestled in a dip between the rolling hills, where the oak trees offered expansive shade beneath their broad canopies; there we would live in a farmhouse with a root cellar, wrap around porch, hens, a goat, a pond, a garden and orchard, and a workshop, where fantastic ideas would come to life. Yes, a vacation is as much for the soul as it is for the body.

Then we left. We drove to broader and broader roads, then highways, and heat, traffic, billboards and Wal-Marts and endless freeway-close housing developments. Skip to the coast:

Isn't it wonderful to know people in faraway places? Well, I'd rather they weren't quite so far away, but it's awfully nice to find them at home, when we are far from ours. I love Bill and Alison's Santa Cruz area neighborhood, where there is a lovely mix of art and funky, old and new, organic this and that, little farms and farm stands, big trees growing close together and of course the coast. The Monterey Bay is a beautiful sight.

We stopped by for a little visit with Dominic and Bill and Alison and their cats, Gracie and George. I wish we could have stayed longer. We were already trying to budget our time for the inevitable drive home. Sigh.

The temptation is to stay for a few days and absorb all the family bonding I miss throughout the year. We could peruse the family photo albums, get lost in "Remember When" stories and witness the new stories that are taking form. I would like to see more of the places they frequent and know them better, feel connected when we are not. If we were neighbors we could enjoy smaller doses of time together, unhurried, less urgent.

As it is, I miss my extended family and feel far, far away from their once familiar lives. I'm so glad we had this visit. Dominic is growing, as babies do, and so are my four, and it's good to get them together. I've already learned that I cannot recreate what I enjoyed in my childhood, like the company of many cousins and lots of family close by, but I do want my children to know all of their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents and so on. Family time is uniquely good and assuring, it holds a connectedness like no other.

And I cannot imagine not returning for more family time, and warm hugs.

Warm hugs, and art and the art of Gayle's. Yes, we snuck into Gayle's for a quick peek. If you knew Gayle's Bakery you would not be able to resist her charms either, and Alex has a thing for Olallieberries which are berry with a very short season and local growing range. We found one last Olallieberry turnover, and a cookie each for the rest of us. Mine was lemon poppy seed. They are small and delicious, which is much better than any oversized store bought treat..

My brain is throwing topics at my typing fingers:
1. Anne and Natalie's fantasy of a farm/farmer's market, local cuisine sampling road trip (including Gayle's)
2. Making a home that reflects favorite places and spaces (like Gayle's)
3. Bill and Alison's wedding anniversary... (from their wedding we were introduced to Gayle's)
4. Savoring the good things in life in art, food, and family time (Why not at Gayle's?)

5. Anne, when we are done quilting, gardening, cooking and blogging, let's make these clever mosaic tables (I saw this one at Gayle's)

So many thoughts and ideas to savor and relish and perhaps some day act on. Isn't it wonderful to find inspiration, even if it only bounces around in your head. I like having bright thoughts. And I like finding unusual sights when I am on a road trip. We had to go a long way to find the pig eggs I dubbed "bacon and eggs." But the dinosaur at In-n-Out was a stroke of pure luck.

He came driving south on the 101, on his way to Santa Fe, and like us, he got hungry for a California road trip staple.

I imagine he ordered a dozen Double-Doubles, "animal style."


Tarie said...

Your blog is always inspiring and fun to read. And wow, that road trip you are dreaming up with Anne sounds fantastic! I hope you guys really get to go. :) I would get to read delectable posts if you took that trip. :P By the way, I feel the same way: I have so many ideas and plans that I don't know what to do with them and I haven't made enough time for them yet! Aaahhh...!

Natalie said...

You like the road trip idea? I think it started with Anne, but it's definitely captured my imagination. You should join us.