On Saturday, I took a day trip with an old friend. We were going to see his new home that he and his partner are building deep in some of the most beautiful hill country this part of the world has to offer. Sometimes the terrain is so magnificent, you are not sure where you are. "Am I in Colorado, or California, or exactly where to heck am I."
Much of the drive, it rained. And the countryside for August is as green and lush as the parts of Northern Mexico I had just come through. If this is what climate change looks like, then we are alright. Probably not true though.
At the construction site, the grounds had turned into that kind of slippery mud that goes deep in to the traction ridges of your shoes and holds on like it wants to live there . So, we had to be careful to not track it in on the sea of hyper hardwood floors that he and his wife had put throughout the house.
He talked with his chain smoking builder, while I put some crackers and brie snacks together.
The house is designed by some well known green architects. And it shows. The eaves on the house are 4 to 5 feet in some places. The house is super insulated. It is surrounded by porches that will allow for a gracious natural living space throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Utility bills should be kept to a minimum.
The house is positioned so that it overlooks a lake and a flowing creek which even has a swimming hole in it. These hills that surround this rich green valley are towering hills and they are covered with live oaks and cedars. I even saw a Pinion Pine. And, according to the builder, who escaped from the big city 20 years ago, 50% of the all the Madrone trees in the US are within this small region.
Even though we traveled 200 miles to get there, we were pretty much ready to leave by early afternoon. As we left, we explored some roads on the very tops of these ridges and found stupendous views of these rich green valleys in air that is cleaner than most.
Land prices in the region are still quite affordable.
We returned slowly through some river roads and arrived in the afternoon at a small town that has become famous for its charm and weekend traffic. There must have been about a zillion motorcycles. And there were a lot of husbands getting their card punched with their mates by getting the trip in before football season starts.
We had plans to eat dinner with friends in town. When we got to their house, we found that their historically legendary garden was completely overgrown and feral. The had recently agreed to sell their river property to a developer and had therefore let the garden grow up. It was still very rich in food and herbs, but it clearly had missed more haircuts than I have this summer.
There was a fine slab of marble that had come from some historically significant place sitting on a well made metal frame in the middle of the garden, and we all agreed that we should eat outside. Our friend's 14 year old son set the table and was as good a dinner host as you can imagine from someone who is on the verge of a hormonal nervous breakdown. He had recently been a young brave in a feature film shot in the area, and he is quite an up and coming actor it seems.
We visited in the late afternoon and watched the thunderstorm to the south as it slowly made its way our way. The table was set with gold underlayment plates. The stemware sparkled. The fish was broiled with onions, and the cream sauce that came with it was as good as any anywhere. The bright orange red chipolte sauce was more or less hallucinogenic. The flies cooperated reasonably.
As we dined in this feral garden, the storm came closer. The juxtaposition of nature and culture reminded me of a painting by Edward Manet, except we kept our clothes on.
As we dined, huge flocks of birds were seen in the sky scurrying to the north and away from the coming weather. The cows were braying. The trees twittered. The air was electric and erratic.
And we ate and visited.
Our host is very connected to the native Indian culture. He is Cherokee. He has drums, and saddles, and peace pipes, and ceremonial feathers throughout the house. Before dinner, he proudly showed me his newest ceremonial feather assortment that he keeps reverently in a wooden box under a felt cloth much like any other priest keeps his sacraments.
Outside, we are eating casually and with purpose.
Finally, the storm comes.
And it comes with a great fury and force.
And it was then,
that we picked up our plates, our food, and our crystal.
And we went inside,
Where we laughed with a joy and excitement,
that I doubt any of us will ever forget.
We spent the rest of the evening with talk of Japan and their culture,
and how the Native American culture is in some ways similar.
We finished with a dessert that would be the pride of the finest restaurant
in any of our dense population centers.
Some of my readers and friends have asked,
"What can we do about the on-coming perfect storm
of Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the rise of the reactionary right .
and the torrent of troubles they will bring?"
Perhaps we should eat well, think well, speak well,
and be well, and be in tune with ourselves
and the environment around us.
When the Storm comes.
We will know what to do.
Thanks for dinner.
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