In Santa Rosa.
I always do, each time we go. It is almost a requirement.
Just when I think that I must have been imagining how magical that place is,
just when I tell myself I could be as happy anywhere I am...
We go back for a visit.
Nope. There's nowhere like it on earth.
We planned it all so well, packed up the van and hopped in, turned the key and... nothing. I was unwilling to accept mechanical failure as an excuse for a ruined weekend, so we jumped that puppy and found a repair shop that was miraculously without patrons. It was fate, I was sure, even though I don't exactly believe in fate.
In no time we were on the road with a shiny new alternator
alternat-ing away under the hood.
As the horizon began to rise and fall with the tumble of vineyard covered hills,
I heard a little tune in my heart.
It sang welcome home, oh, welcome home!
And I sang back at the top of my lungs
to Annie Lennox playing on the radio.
We stayed a night with sweet Joyce, who always insists on meals eaten out. T'was then that we learned that it hadn't been the alternator after all! It is so cool when you get to pay $400 to find out what is not wrong with your car. That's ok, nothin' a pair of jumper cables can't fix, four or five times.
We wondered if it was wise to continue on to Francine's house, but oh, how could we not? Francine, a person so kind and without guile, so loving and receiving, so creative and generous, is someone you would walk miles to see. Car trouble was no trouble at all if it meant a few hours with her.
The minute we arrived, sleepy Jonah reached out for Francine
and snuggled into her neck to stay.
We ate so many strawberries that we almost burst,
but they were so sweet and juicy,
stopping would have been a crime against mother nature.
We snuggled and loved on the kids, read and visited.
We ate roasted chicken with our fingers.
And more strawberries.
I had to, as I always do, rest my weary soul in Francine's studio.
The feeling there is like a temple or a forest, and I don't believe that many people
could enter without tapping into the flow of creative energy there.
When it was time to go, our van started, no trouble at all.
It was time, I guess, though I didn't want it to be.
So I left my heart (or some of it, at least) there at Francine's.
I know she'll take great care of it.
Make that two!
Out here, by some strange magic, my four children can
play in a hammock together without one squabble.
Francine's amazing studio...
When my studio grows up, I hope it is just like Francine's.
My walkin' boy(s).
Everyone should have a Francine.
Gary, Francine's gentle hubby, is as loving to our little ones as she is.
Inspired by crop circles, The kids made "Rock Circles".
Tessa, though reminded, forgot to bring shoes on this little trip.
Slippers worked in town, but I had to construct homemade
flip-flops for treading out in the tree bark and gravel.
Duct tape; it's the new Jimmy Choo.
Time to say good-bye
Mmmmm. One more love.
As always, we come away laden with goodies and treasures. Lavender bread, organic berries, crystals, Mastic gum from the Middle East that tastes of flowers and exotic tree resin. Even a little pair of frog boots for Jonah boy. But mostly, we came away with a warmth and cheer that got us all the way home.