Benevolent Beauty

Jessica Dofflemyer ~ all rights reserved
photo by Jessica Dofflemyer ~ all rights reserved
Jessica Dofflemyer ~ all rights reserved

Spirit Garden, Big Sur, California


Less than 24 hours after waking from a dream with the word nacimiento in my mind, I get an email from Big Sur.

The coastal community has been dealing with two landslides, which have cut off access to the north and south.  At least one slide is expected to take a month to clear.  Essentially cut off from the rest of the state, the people of Big Sur are supported with escorted convoys and helicopter drops.

The email update sent to me was to announce that there was one road besides the blocked Highway 1 that offered access to and from the coast.   A notoriously rough and dangerous route, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is the only alternate available. 

For readers of the Archives, it may be known that part of my heart lives in the stone and sea of Big Sur.  And though I love that land, I never knew about this road.  Not until the 2am, post-dream scribble of nacimiento in my journal and a Google search, did I learn this road existed.

The email update came that same day.  Subject:  Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.  A rugged passage offering the only way in or out.  Travel with care.

Not sure how this thruway factors in.  (Who’s Fergusson?)  And I certainly don’t know the source of all our dreams.

Maybe the flitting words and symbols that seep and slip from sleep are signposts.  Filaments from the web that connects us all.

For now, I’m sending good wishes to the sweet people of Big Sur.  Wishing them smooth and easy connections, with each other and the outer world.  They’ve been at the mercy of Mother Nature’s hand before.  Those coastal dwellers are a solid bunch with lots of heart.  I’m with them in my own way.  Across an ocean and in my dreams.

courtesy of Stan Russell

Making Peace with Landmarks in the California Sweater

As part of a retrospective on my recent travels to California, I’m offering another installment to the series “Excerpts from the Coastal Dwelling.”  A collage of journal entries, narrative, photographs and random poetic waxing.

Here’s Day Two:

the California Sweater

The pools become my addiction.  I’m called to them again and again.  Three times yesterday in a short amount of hours.  I end the day and begin the day with the baths.  Hot water.  Cold water.  Steep deep.  Let the steam rise from bare skin on cold coastal air.  Every combination.  Quiet.  Speaking.  Silent.  Alone.  Communal.  Wash hair.  Keep hair dry.

After soaking I bundle and seal in all of the healing warmth with socks and boots, double layers and the California Sweater [named so because it’s stored  in CA for when I come to visit].  The wool blanket/sweater I rescued from the giveaway bag – my father’s – the one he got in Mexico twenty years ago.  It exudes the subtle scent of slightly damp wool and the weave lightly prickles my skin.  This sweater is wrapped around me now as I write ink to paper and gaze at the ring – the jade one from Hawaii – its silver casting has turned iridescent turquoise from the minerals of the hot spring.  I really must remember to start taking jewelry off in the baths.

[Though I was cleansing in the waters, I was emotionally steeped in the essence of the love with the rocket scientist that had seeded in that very place the year before.  I was making peace with landmarks around every corner.]

It all came up today – a small cry, really, but one still the same.  We were instructed in our workshop to write our life’s key points in five year increments.  Thinking of the past felt like raw tenderness.  Any recollecting just brought a floodgate of grief for the love that grew from these very grounds one year ago.

These crystalline moments of sweet connection are enmeshed in the landscape here.  I pass the grassy field where we knelt and shared a tangerine while butterflies flit around our heads.  There’s the cliffside bench, the corner tree, that table in the solarium.  I walk past the cabin and the Bottle Brush tree – the backdrop for our happy photos.  The scene’s familiar but he has vanished.

If I was not left with questions I think that I could walk among our monuments with gentle thoughts and sweet memories.  A gratitude.  Can I still find this place inside myself even if the questions are never answered?

Facilitator encourages me to be thankful for what we did share.  She says sometimes things don’t always look the way we thought they would.  And as we write our intentions and desires regarding our livelihood – our place in the world – the doubts arise about dreams. Are they really possible?  Can I trust my heart?