Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Last Call from Wellspring?

Some of my best times over the past few years, whether writing or relaxing, have been at a unique, though not secret, location in Mendocino County, the Wellspring Renewal Center. Now I've received some sad news.  They are closing. I am bereft.

We all know the economy has been hitting everyone hard, particularly non-profits. Like many institutions, Wellspring has always had to work to keep their outgo covered by their income. It seems that it has at last become insurmountable and after 30 years of operation, their board made the difficult decision to fold up the tents and turn out the lights.

I imagine that letting go of the book-balancing struggle is a relief in itself. But the place will be sorely missed by so many people. Moi, especially. It was my own Writers Residency that I was always accepted to; it was a retreat to the soul-healing woods when I and the Captain (aka Nearly Normal Norm) needed a respite from work, family, suburban noise and strife.

It's where the cabin porch always beckoned.
Where the swimming hole had its own friendly beast. 
Where I found an abandoned car in the forest. 

It's also where the Captain and I shared our cabin with a bat, but that's another story, and sadly enough, I have no pictures of that. "What in flaming blazes was that?" and  "Shoo, bat, shoo!" plus a frantic, high-pitched discussion about whether lights would attract or scare away flying rodents figured largely in that story. Eventually the poor beast found it's way out the opened door, and the next morning the staff treated us with that dignity reserved for suburban folk not used to country life, while patching the hole right away.

Actually, these were, in general, nice bats, important in maintaining an acceptable level of insect life nearby.  The next night, the Capt. and I sat on the porch at twilight and watched them swing out and around the meadow scooping up all those annoying flying critters and we were content. Especially since the bats weren't using our cabin as home base.

There are more stories of course:  the nightly call of owls, the sight of rabbits and herons, the amusing activities of the acorn woodpeckers and stellar jays - some of which I have told already. There were moments of poetry and moments of quiet companionship; there were times of insight and contentment only possible when the frantic buzz of our electronically-mediated world has seeped away. It will be difficult to replace this retreat in my life.

Wellspring will stay open through the fall season, until October 30th. Which means, if anyone is interested, there might still be time for one more visit, one more writers retreat. I'm plotting and planning right now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Attitudes Not Platitudes

The Goddess of Green Lights woke up on the wrong side of bed yesterday morning. So I had plenty of time to read all the bumper stickers on the dark green Mustang convertible in front of me, as we hit red light after red light on my way out of Petaluma to work.

I’d Tell You to Go to Hell But I Work There (and I don’t want to see you everyday)
How About a Big Cup of Shut The F**k Up
It’s been 365 Days Since I Gave a Sh*t.
I Used to be F**king Stupid But Then We Broke Up.

Who the f’ing hell drove this car? Tried as I did, I never got a good look at the driver and there wasn’t a passenger to give me any auxillary clues. The car didn’t pull into SSU as I assumed it would (had to be a student, right?), so I wasn’t able to park nearby to get a good look. Drat and dagnabbit!

I really wanted to know who drove that car. Would the persona created from the bumpersticker ‘tudes match the person who actually got out of the car? A fellow or gal as aggressive and rude as the stickers,  short hair with a confrontational stance perhaps, with loud, even cruel, laughter? Or reserved, with a small ever-present smirk and few, though pointed, comments? Would he/she be constipated? Why do I think this car belonged to a fella?

Or would the driver be against type?  Mild-mannered, the proverbial “nice, quiet, never any trouble” kind of guy yet seething on the inside, bones buried in the back yard, a secret room filled with the photos and trophies of a stalker. Were these bumper stickers meant in all irony? Perhaps it was an uncle’s car and they were somewhat embarrassed to be driving it. Maybe the bumperstickers were the only things available when rust spots began showing up. A soccer mom with a hidden message for the coach?

Near the key-lock for the trunk, sort of the center for all the wordy messages, was a sunbleached image of a Native American dreamcatcher with a superimposed wolf’s head in the middle and large feathers or long wooly tails hanging down. Now -- does this add depth and dimension to the character, create empathy? Does it blend with the messages or add a different, contradictory flavor? Or does it read as erroneous, something that came with the car (assuming it was second hand), or that someone stuck on as a joke? 

Who do you see driving this car?