Is there anything more lovely than a thistle?
Camping this weekend in a friend's meadow up in Mendocino, we minced around plenty of these. So pretty, but definitely look don't touch.
We have been attending this annual multigenerational weekend party for over a decade and are usually one of the tents. This year, though, we decided to skip the set-up-break-down biz and "camp" in our restored VW Vanagon (it has a transplanted Subura engine, so it's technically called a Vanaroo).
Sleeping on a full-sized futon with our down comforter and flannel sheets hardly qualifies as roughing it, but when a thick fog rolled in during the wee hours of the morning and we heard all our tent neighbors waking up to put flies on the tents, we thought we were pretty clever.
You never know what our host will have on the spit—lamb, pig, or goat. This year it was a particularly handsome pig.
The host adds rice and green salad, and the guest potluck the rest.
At night it's music, chat, and marshmallows around a campfire. Here, Husband gets a chance to catch up with the host, my first landlord in Berkeley and the person who introduced Husband and me.
In the morning everyone is treated to amazing berry crepe. Which brings me to the next weed. So a friend and I are sitting at one of the tables set up outside chatting over coffee and crepes. We're talking about the past year, during which she has struggled with her teenager daughter's use of drugs and alcohol and the issues that naturally accompany those substances in hands controlled by developing brains. Hard stuff, particularly scary given that this girl has two parents I really consider to have their shit together. Clearly, this can happen to anyone. They're handling it though with compassion and intelligence, getting their daughter professional help and maintaining a house completely free of problem substances—the liquor cabinet is gone, and prescription drugs are under lock and key.
And so in the middle of this conversation, what do the sixty- and seventy-somethings at the other end of the table do?
Why light a huge spliff, of course. I believe the technical term for this is Wake-and-Bake. It's ten o'clock in the goddamn morning. And kids are everywhere. Fortunately most of them were playing in the orchard when this occurred, but a few years ago they lit up in the living room while the kids were playing cards at the other end of the room. Boundaries, anyone? Whoever thought would come the day when the biggest stoners I know are the seniors?? Not that I really do think it is an evil weed, but a good glass of wine or well-mixed martini sounds so much better to me. I'm not totally sure how I'm going to handle the pot issue. I won't lie about past and occasionally present inhaling, but I'm planning on emphasizing that using it with good judgment (which I'm not sure many kids can do) is critical. And I'll probably need to point out that lighting up at ten in the morning is not good judgment. If she questions me, I'll instruct her to move down the table and have a conversation with one of the stoned seniors.
The blackberries edging the road and surrounding the property were in full fruit.
I followed behind a pack of kids. They picked low, I picked high.
After an hour, with a few bloody fingers, I had enough for another batch of homemade Crème de mûre and some more of Jen's blackberry ice cream.
But even the blackberry has its drawbacks. The blackberry thickets have become more aggressive than the our friend who owns the property. She'll be eighty at the end of the month and admits that she no longer has the energy to work eight hours a day beating them back, tending the garden and orchard, and maintaining the house, meadow, and pond. She wants to work for maybe three hours and then rest in the shade, read a book. She's thinking of putting the property on the market. She is not an old lady. Doesn't dress like one, act like one, or look like one. When we talk, we're the same age; she's just wiser. She's not slowing down; the berries are speeding up. Goddamn weed.