Thursday, August 26, 2010
Humboldt Hippies (or Shiny Happy People, Everywhere!)
I recently traveled to northern California for my brother and sister-in-law's post-wedding bash. They married in impromptu fashion in New Zealand, too far for most friends and family to travel. They've since settled down with their young son and a couple horses in Arcata, which is a small, coastal town five hours north of San Francisco. Arcata boasts Humboldt State University, and more pot, dreads and underarm hair per capita than most places. For my debut visit, I considered wearing a tee shirt that said I BELIEVE IN SHAVING, but I didn't know if the locals would appreciate my humor or understand my goodwill toward woman--shaved or unshaved.
The post-wedding bash took place on an organic farm in Willow Creek, which is 45 minutes over the mountains from the coast. The farm overlooks the Trinity River, so the backdrop for the weekend was river, mountains, Douglas firs, wildflowers and blackberry bushes. The farm even boasts a bear, who was very polite and did not crash the party. The friends camped and the family members stayed in gorgeous cottages nearby. We rafted, feasted, danced, ate fresh farm-grown food (and cardamom ice cream!), and made merry.
My brother and his wife are outdoorsy and nature-loving, and all their friends are too. I spent the weekend with people who truly love and care for the earth and each other. They are herbalists, landscapers, musicians, artists, yoga instructors, teachers. One friend strummed a guitar and sang countless folk tunes by heart under the trees on Sunday morning while we ate blueberry pancakes cooked on an outdoor stove. It was an amazing weekend, some close calls on the river notwithstanding. (I learned that I should never, ever jump out of the raft in the middle of the rapids to try to rescue my mom, who went overboard! She and I both survived the incident, thanks to my raftmates who hauled me back on board, and to Kai, a river god who kayaked against the current to rescue my mom, who was clinging, petrified, to the riverbank!) A flurry of photos follows...
My beautiful sister-in-law, the bride, flippin' blueberry flapjacks
My "little" brother and my mom--river rafting survivor!
The photos that follow are of the amazing artichoke. I was sooooooo excited to stumble upon artichokes growing in the flower garden. I grew up eating them, dipping their leaves in melted lemon butter and running my front teeth along their meat, but I had never seen them before they landed in the bins at the grocery store. They're so beautiful in the garden!