Saturday, 23 May 2015

Eco-conscious mini-house, Trinidad California

The towns of the far north California coast were hives of industry when access was by sea, then came rail, then rail left and economies wilted. With alternative culture came new people. As in many seaside places in Australia some of these towns are also places for marginal survival of people scraped from city life by adversity. You drive the Avenue of the Giants and see also economic difficulties with recent-years' tourist decline and the preference from DVD/MP3/heyyoume-implanted car passengers for two dimensions over three dimension and tourist artefact over majestic stunning reality.


To begin at the beginning, to set the mood, to start the magic - you can watch entranced and/or let Joni play for you while you go down the page. The creatrix of everything I love in modern music, sadly unwell as I write. I never knew before recently, in my awe, of she of my age, that she had had polio and such other problems to overcome, to shove aside, disregard in creating serenities, mysteries and swooningly beautiful things.

I deliberately headed this blog entry with the same words as Karin's airbnb listing for her wonderful place in Trinidad to help Ms Google find it. We stayed at Karin's mini-house, close to but very private from her forest-wrapped home on the nights of 18 and 19 May 2015. It's worth sharing our pleasure.

We have family histories of living and building in rural places but you don't need to have such history to enjoy this place. Indeed if you've never been to such a situation but have a tiny hanker this is a wonderful introduction to small house life and to the experience being surrounded by the air and earth of trees and other plants as you sit, as you eat, as you dream at night.

I now sit in San Francisco morning having just read this science commentary on how trees communicate, via gases in the air and most importantly with chemical exchanges via strings of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.

All you ever felt about the magic of being among trees, plants, flowers, hands in decent soil has a real chemical base. Having been certified many years back as an organic farmer and having a permaculture design certificate, I have a distaste for woowoo muck-and-magic thinking of too many doctrinaires. Instead I get a warm glow from the real science as well as a measure of fury at the way chemical agricultural and thick-skull forestry blindly ignore science. The web of ecology demands understanding not giggling or dancing round garden gnomes. We are in the ecology, we go with it, contribute to it... or we die.

Looking at airbnb options in northern California the majority seemed to be cosy firesidely hey-see-waves-through-my salty-windows kinda places with obese-ish prices varied by the size of the sea-glimpse. There are a few really interesting places far into the big woods, offering perhaps deeper experience in self-sufficient situations but we had limited time, modest geographical knowledge and a rental car, so it suited us to have this fabulous 'taster' three minutes from Highway 101, approached on bitumen and with everything around us - sea, forest, village and the magic of the towns of Arcata and Eureka: the latter a huge risk when you are supposed to be driving way way on down the coast and you stop for breakfast and leave about lunchtime. :-)

We were very glad we'd booked two nights at Karin's. Being urban or town people in bigger home spaces you spend the first hours here with elbows bopping a bit, disconcerted by the need to turn around sooner and more often than expected. A kitcheny jostle. The second day and night your elbows eventually get it, your brain gets it, your nostrils and lungs get it, your heart steadies and life expands and you smile and say ah-ha. You knew when you first looked around in this small house that you had every conceivable amenity (except TV, if you call that an amenity) with books of so many different serious genres, with Karin modestly and helpfully on hand with local knowledge of both invaders and native American peoples and ready with well thumbed photostatted additional reading... if you can bring yourself to such from sitting or wandering quietly immersed in the bucolic. We could have stayed a week or more, read some books, write some stories, live the life.

A house a tiny bit bigger than the old greenhouse,
 an accretion of this bit and that bit over time,
as happens in the country and and in life
— in the corner of the orchard, edge of forest.
Very sensible to have the bath/toilet opening onto the porch rather than into the room.
Turn around after taking that first picture and past the apple blossom this
five minutes away

Fifteen minutes away in Arcata, [ah-KAY-tah] where the dogs are learned and employed
and men talk disc golf not Discworld
though some dogs are just shy
Every day on this trip, this time in the lovely Cafe Brio, Arcata, Liz does this most-most romantic internet-feasible thing
–the ultimate grace before eating, sharing her meal with Mikey who is back working in Seattle.
She had the chicken and mushroom pie.
Helen well pleased by the hefty, cold-climate friendly soup of the day
and I had the Reuben, good pastrami on house bread with light and delicate sauerkraut.
"How'dya like the Reuben?" asked the lovely young woman from the counter, rushing by.

Here too I came upon what has to be the most thoughtful and interesting free paper anywhere, Greenfuse. I'm taking it home.

The energy of this town, its verve and muscularity too, are contributed to by
the presence of the northern campus of  one of the great state universities,
Humboldt University (the California one, not the Berlin one) which says of itself (see that link)

You'll be part of a campus known for its longstanding commitment to social and environmental responsibility. And when you graduate, you'll have more than just a degree
– you'll have the skills to go far in life and make your community better.

Greenfuse comes from a few minutes south, Garberville.

Here on a Facebook page screenshotted below I found something about the editor/author Kathy Epling... her blogs of prose here and poetry here. Wild country miracles.

Someone once said to me as I set out to travel: "I hope you find what you're looking for." To which I replied: "Oh no, how boring that would be. I hope for things unimagined."

... Found. Once again, always different.

Keep your eyes and hearts open. Please. Feed your innocence.

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