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  • I left the hill this afternoon to pick up my food for the dinners this week. Every Monday and Tuesday night I prepare a pop up dinner at our local dive bar. I source all my food from local farmers fisherfolk and ranchers. Mendocino county is rich and abundant with such people and I never have to leave a five mile radius to pick up my food. On Sunday I make the rounds, and it can take all day as there is quite alot of chatting and storytelling going on. This is nearly , and quiite possibly the best thing about my work. what is most memorable for me are my purveyors, without their devotion and hard work I have nothing.

    The few days leading up to our opening of HERE, my latest venture, were some of the most remarkable days in recent memory. We were in this long stretch of mild weather, the temps low, with that hard frost in the morning but then later on the sky clear and crisp, the sea calm.
    Sunday morning I went to visit Mike at Windfall Farm, his young son Kyle greets me at the gate with a wild flurry of ducks flying about his head and scattering at the arrival of my car . Kyle laughs amid the flapping of wings and squacking of duck and geese and exclaims that he just let them all out at the very moment I drove up! His eyes bright with delight and humor. I am there picking up the beets and the onions, and Mike invites me to help pick the red brussel sprouts . I am deeply moved as he patiently and tenderly shows Kyle, who is 6, (with small hands and agile fingers), how to reach into the plant and snap off the sprouts. Mike is kind and Kyle is eager and we walk down the rows of plants talking about the coming menus and what I can make with what he is growing this winter and do we think it will ever rain again.

    Kyle takes me over to the Rabbit House and introduces me to the breeding rabbits by name, and explains why some of them remain and some of them don’t and he shows this impressive confidence about his knowledge of them and their attributes.
    He even shares with me his favorite way to to prepare them.

    This last September I inaugurated my wood oven and celebrated my birthday with a huge pizza and dance party at my home, and we set up our friend Justin in the doorway, where she nearly killed us all, DJ’ing unstoppable dance tunes, all the while Kyle, danced with every one of us and also mostly did his tremendous moves in front of Justin’s set up.

    Kyle, master farmer, rabbit breeding expert and break out dancer.

    The next day I went to Kelle and James’ farm and picked up the most beautiful greens, They where honestly poetic, as Kelle and James are in all that they do, breathe and their farm on the ridge, just a few miles from me, is a work of great love, devotion and a deep and true understanding of gardening on every level. I was overwhelmed by the aesthetic of it , every inch a visual feast.
    The bags of purple mizuna, baby arugula, romanesco broccoli florets, rainbow chard, dino kale and baby collard greens, vibrant with life and love, beautifully bagged and boxed, waiting for me.
    Kelle and James’ old dog Betsy, who is the same age as my Rosie, is very ill and their
    grieving and worry was palpable that morning, and we all stood around in their parking area-loving Betsy up, talking about why she can no longer eat, spaghetti squash, and wondering about the rain, that promised to come but has not.

    Opening day, I cooked…and tried to anticipate what was ahead, we were not full which was actually a relief and as I left home to go to the bar, I got in my car and it
    was dead… I had to run over to Mark’s house,(thank god he was home), with my swanky coat on, clean Chuck Taylors, and red lipstick… me, now ,running behind. Classic.

    We prevailed.

    Heather’s childcare fell through and so her beautiful daughter Estelle
    joined us, she tucked away in the wait station with her ipad and her Rubik’s cube, but she mostly spent the evening with Ren and I in the kitchen. She was lovely and mindful and when I would forget something she noticed and pointed it out.
    Ren is the son of my dear friend Aimee, who is also serving there, and I was at Ren's birth with an offering of warm wild blackberry pie.

    I had played phone tag with Mike the folowing day about buying his just harvested bunnies, we managed to finally connect and were to meet at the farm at 4.

    I met Geo in town earlier and picked up the lamb for the Birria, and had a late afternoon time set to pick up the squashes from Kelle and James' farm.

    When I called them, I knew that they had to finally put down their beloved dog Betsy
    yesterday and it felt awkward and trivial to ask them about squash but when I called , James was gracious and welcoming and having been there myself, in fact Kelle and I shared siblings of two different litters over this past 20 something years, which I suppose binds us as even more than family. Her beautiful Betsy is the same age as my Rosie, and this hits close to home on many levels. I arrive there, and they are hanging with family and friends and the grief is palpable, but they are so loving and warm and James brings me these crazy beautiful squashes, again to say that these folks create beauty and love and music within all the rich bounty and challenge that life is.

    I leave there to meet Mike to pick up the bunnies that his son Kyle introduced me to last week. When we met, the sky was beginning to shift, wind picking up and the creek was much cooler and shrouded in shade by the bare alders and willows along Shit creek and Mill Street was alive with guys hanging out by their trucks as the swoosh on chill of a winter squall formed.

    Mike’s partner Karen Ann had just left this morning for Hawaii to sit at her mother’s bedside, where she was finally letting go after a long bout with cancer. Mike pulls out two large bags of perfectly dressed bunnies for me and we weigh them out in his office as the stories of Karen Ann’s mother, Betsy’s passing, the very present and stark awareness, was perhaps compelled by winter, the green pasture with the Muscovy ducks eating bugs, the goats silent in their pen, the trickle and swoosh of the creek nearby, the crick crack of Alders in a symphonic collision with the wind and the distant sea swell.

    Today, my church, my Sunday, before my Monday, the constant beauty and tenderness of life, of sustenance, how fragile it all is, how precious we all are.

    This life.
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