We went up to visit my mom and hook up her electricity. I hadn't been to "the valley" as it is called for over 4 years. I won't bore you with the reasons, none seem good enough to have stayed away so long. Both my mother and my youngest brother live there. My brother bought a piece of property and created a home and successful business. My mom followed and helped him while she searched for a place of her own. She found a 5 acre parcel that overlooks the valley almost to the ocean. This is where she began building her dream.
My mother is talented in more ways than anyone I have ever known. You might think that I say this only because she is my mother. I am not alone, in fact, most people she meets feel this way about her. She is generous to a fault, and works harder than most people a 1/4 of her age. She never complains and her soul is fed through the satisfaction of her labor. One of the great loves in her life is gardening, flowers, roses, and design. She has worked most of her life in design. Making things beautiful is her greatest gift. She can turn the ugliest things into coveted treasures. She has a Midas touch and all of us consider ourselves golden to have her in our lives.
Our trip would take 12 hours, and the closer we got the more excited we all became. We drove through the central part of California, agricultural land, without much to look at. But as we start getting closer to her neck of the woods the hills start to green, the fauna and flora become richer and denser. The last 45 minutes consist of windy roads covered in oaks and bay laurel trees. The shadows lap over the road to create dark, mottled tunnels and then open up into sun drenched asphalt again. Our eyes struggle to adjust as we make our way around each turn. At dusk we have the added worry of darting deer which have been known to aim for passing cars. Their homes are in between Booneville and Philo. Both are small towns where if you blink you have missed most of it. We slow down as we make our way through the heart of Booneville passing, the senior center, elder center, fairground, general store, hotel, cafe, ice cream parlor, nursery then we can increase our speed as we pass miles of vineyards on each side of the road. Mountains surround us as we make our way through the valley that is being consumed by grapes. I recognize the white picket fence that is the vineyard next to my moms and brothers place. The sun is almost gone yet as we drive in there is just enough light left to see the explosion of color that awaits. It is like visiting a botanical garden, a retreat in all aspects of the word.
No matter how busy my mom is she always is the supreme hostess. The house is spotlessly clean, a fire is roaring in the fireplace and there is music playing. Each of our rooms has been lovingly prepared for us, clean sheets, warm feather down comforters and fresh flowers fill every room. Dinner is still hot and waiting for us even though it is 9:00pm. We can't wait to get out and get our hugs then to explore, see all the changes that have taken place since we were last there. The house is always warm and comfortable with her there. I love just having coffee with her in the mornings or ice cream at night. She loves to feed us well too, we all gain weight when we visit. No wonder I found that I was so tired the whole time I was there, my mom said I was just relaxed! I knew that I had been drugged with the food, wine, summer breeze and a mothers warmth.
The yard was full of flowers and gravel paths that both Jennifer and I spend many mornings exploring with mom. I often was so overwhelmed with things I should paint that I couldn't paint at all. Everywhere I turned there was something else that needed to be painted, an artists dream. I took almost two hundred pictures since they have decided to sell these dream parcels. The truth about living out a dream is it is often better in the dream than in the reality. Although the area is really beautiful it rains much of the year and country living is hard work. Running out of water, losing power, no emergency services, no shopping, no close neighbors makes it hard. My mom is tired and suffers from arthritis so she now wishes to live closer to her doctors and have less to care for. She told me this visit that no matter how hard she tries nature keeps taking back the land. Its so true, we struggle even in the city to keep out the weeds and there is a constant reminder that it is not really ours for long. If anyone was wondering where Randy is during all of this, well, we did have our walks but he worked much of the time. Doing moms electrical for her cottage. He told me to enjoy my time with her and I did! Here are some of my sketches while I was visiting in my moms Shangri-La, I will post the real photos on flickr for anyone interested. Such a wonderful week with my mom and family.