Thursday, June 3, 2010

California Dreamin'

Some places just seem to recharge my creativity, especially in northern California (San Francisco and northward), especially Sonoma.  We try to go there every year, first to visit our dear friend Diane in Sonoma for a few days and then on up the coast to Mendocino to see the California grandkids, and their parents, of course.  My home and heart are in the desert, but we all need a change sometimes. Sonoma is so filled with the sweet green breathing of plants that it immediately refreshes my soul. I’m not just talking about vineyards, but of course the vineyards are beautiful.  This is the view from the end of Diane’s street.
For years Diane has collected salt and pepper shakers, but selectively, only couples, and it’s been fun to search antique and thrift shops, estate and yard sales, for new members to add to the little community.  They all seem to have individual expressions and personalities; I’m quite taken by the little Dutch couple in the middle, while the one on the far left seems like she’d be a bit of a gossip and busybody.  I’ve been thinking of some kind of creative project that would involve all these little people.

The first full day we were in Sonoma we went to Quarryhill, a remarkable botanical garden with a focus on Asian plant species, many of which are rare or even endangered in their homelands.  Paths lead visitors up and down gentle slopes, around ponds filled with waterlilies and ducks, and into hidden nooks where it seems quite possible fairies might come out to dance after the humans have gone for the day.
We also went to an art show on the plaza in the middle of town, put on by a group of plein-air painters who’d produced their paintings just the week before.  The artists were all very accomplished and the paintings quite lovely (and expensive), but similar in many ways, from size to subject matter to the palette of colors almost all of them seemed to use.  Perhaps that’s why I was so taken by this artist’s work, with its sharp lines and clear, bright colors.
Back at Diane’s subdivision, we went for a walk and visited Temelec Hall, built in 1858 by one of the members of California’s Bear Flag party.  This grand building is within the boundaries of the subdivision and residents can use it for gatherings.
    And this is one of four identical little cottages at the corners of the garden at Temelec Hall. I suppose they’re toolsheds or pumphouses or something similarly practical, but doesn’t this one look like it belongs in a fairy tale?  Perhaps if it was smaller, some of the salt-and-pepper people could live in it.
     The weather was unseasonably cool while we were there, but our visits to our friend and to Sonoma always warm my heart.  With temperatures here in Tucson predicted to reach 106 by Sunday, I wish I could have brought back some of that cool weather!

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