Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, December 6, 2010

Places that make me pause for thought

If you're lucky, once in a lifetime, you will live somewhere that makes your heart sing. For me the little town of Volcano, CA. does this.
This is the quintessential little town. It's north of Pine Grove and east of Sutter Creek in an old gold mining area. There are 100 (oops! I guess 3 more people move into town) folks in this charming town and it's at the 2053 ft. elevation. It snows here but usually not enough to shut down transportation in and out. Please go to this Amador County site for more information.
This is the St. George Hotel. It's the biggest building in town and, although we've never stayed there, we have eaten there many times. It's just a beautiful old hotel and is the first building that you see as you drive into town. It's for sale, if you're interested.
I think this is the most wonderful Saloon. It's attached to the hotel and is one of the "hot" spots in town.
All the buildings are old and most are made of stone because of the fires and because they have an abundance of rock in the area.
We lived here for 3 years before we built a house down near Jackson. We lived a few miles above the town off of  a road called Shakeridge, on the way to the famous Daffodil Hill.
It was a beautiful place to live and if we had not already bought this land that we live on now we would be living up there somewhere. Every time I drive up into this area I feel like I'm coming back to a very special place. It has been 12 years since we left, but I can still see Rosie (an old timer who lived in town)  waving from the bench out in front of the little grocery store on Main Street. She was the one woman welcoming committee in town. She's gone now, but I'm sure her ghost is still walking around town somewhere.
Saturday was my Birthday. I have decided to make as little of this as possible. It seems to work better than celebrating with cakes and gatherings. So, I had accepted an invitation from a friend that still lives on Shakeridge to go to a Christmas Luncheon with her above Pine Grove at her church. I picked her up at her house which needs to be on a house and garden tour. It's so charming.
"J" is a very humble woman who would never want to show off, but I think it's one of the most charming homes I've ever seen. The dog adds to the ambiance and greets everyone like a long lost friend.
I lust for that potting shed in J's backyard. They bought it at Lowes and they added some gingerbread to it and painted it... and put a deck around it. Oh be still my beating heart. I love this little shed.

We packed up some food and drove back to Pine Grove and to the church.
The Luncheon was lovely. "J" had decorated her own table, one of seven, for the luncheon.  She made little gingerbread ornaments for everyone at her table and  invited other ladies to sit with us.
Mind you, I don't go to church very often and this is a very heavy bible centered church so I was waiting for lightening to strike when I walked into the front part of the church...... but lo and behold, nothing happen. I guess God knows my heart is in the right place ( this is the "closet catholic" speaking from somewhere.)  and all the questions and good investigative study I've done on this subject have been considered by him... her...this eminent, infinite light of the universe. I've been told that I have an intellectual syndrome about religion. That I need to just let go and have faith. Well..... That's a different, very long, post for another time.
Just the fact that all these women accepted me with handshakes and smiles..... and the fact that lightening didn't strike me, tells me that no matter what the outcome of my search, there is good in most everyone and that most folks who have THE ANSWER seems to be very accepting of those who don't.
I had a great time and the food was wonderful. In the end, I was given a small book called Our Daily Bread....
This little book brought back memories of my Grandmother who would always give me one to read when I visited her in Napa.  Sometimes she would send them to me with a note about God and how I should always be aware of a higher power that loved me. To this day I believe that all the beauty in this world and what my Grandma and my Mom taught me about nature and life, is a big part of what this eminent light is that we call God. It's has to do with knowing you're not alone in this world and it has to do with love.... unconditional love. I get it! I think the rest is about togetherness and confirmation and the need for sharing the belief that someone came here to save us from our sins. This is where I come to the intersection with all the red lights. I love the feeling of religion, and the music, and the celebrations, but when it comes right down to it I think there are still some pieces of the puzzle missing and, like a lot of other choices in life, I accept what makes this life, here on earth, more palatable.... not blindly but with much thought. This will all come to a show down or maybe just dust to dust..... some day in the near future. I'm not sure what will happen. Maybe I will be commended for my doubt.
If not, I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do.....

I had a wonderful time at the luncheon and then I drove my friend back to her house, said Merry Christmas to some of the locals.....
drove back through Volcano.......
....... into Pine Grove and down to Jackson.
I was tired. The Prospector had planned on taking me out to dinner but we decided to go out on Sunday evening instead, so I curled up with my knitting and listening to the rain outside and felt very safe.
Life can be so wonderful sometimes.
Today I'm home with a cold. I knew it was coming. It least I don't have to go to work anymore. I remember days when I did and how awful it was to call in sick when so much had to be done. The children would have to deal with a substitute and their routine would be changed. We are all special children and we all deal with changes in our routine. Life does that. I'm taking my medicine and resting a lot. I'm so fortunate to be a part of my own life.... trying to understand what all of THIS means and having the fortitude to keep reaching and asking questions.
In my heart I know that William Carlos Williams was right when he said...
"so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Life is as complicated and as simple as that......
p.s. Please no long comments on religion..... just short and to the point. But please do comment. I know I have opened a can of worms here but I'm not asking for help or arguments. Peace to you all.....


  1. No mention of religon from me...just a "Happy belated birthday" and to say how much I enjoy reading your posts.
    What a wonderful part of California you must live in. Over the holidays we are looking forward to visiting some of the sights at Death Valley National Park.
    Stay warm and cosy and get well.

  2. Happy Birthday and I simply believe the bible :)
    love n hugs Laura

  3. Happy Birthday! And thank you for the tour around Volcano. (I love the pine branches along the fence.)

  4. First I want to wish you a belated birthday. Religion is one thing I believe should be kept to oneself. I clicked on each picture to see them larger. The hotel one reminds me of the National Hotel in my home town of Nevada City, California. I have relatives that live in Sutter Creek. Hope you get to feeling better. This was a great post. Have a blessed evening. Madeline

  5. Another beautiful, thought provoking post from you my friend. We think alike on so many things from religion to the little Sierra foothill towns we love.

    We were in your neck of the woods today following the thrift store trail along Hiway 49. I always wonder if I'm standing in line with you at the thrift store or sitting next to you at the light in town.

    I adore Volcano also. There is an article in the December issue of Sunset. They mention the St. George and the Whiskey Flat Saloon as well as the Volcano Union Inn. I have mixed feelings about that. I like that it's such a well kept secret, however, our foothill businesses are struggling so I guess it's a good thing. They need customers in order to survive.

    Happy belated birthday and get well soon.
    I just got over a nasty cold. I feel your pain!

  6. I love that you included one of my all-time favorite poems by William Carlos Williams, who was a doctor but started writing poetry in his office before he went home to his family. I use that poem in the high school English classes I teach to illustrate the power of a simple image, one like this that can remind us (or at least Wms.) of home and comfort and nostalgia. Sounds like you made many of the same connections traveling back through the beautiful place you once called home.

  7. Wow, look at you with another birthday!! Happy, happy to you...;j
    I think we are all on a journey with our spiritual selves and it has nothing to do with religon.
    Great post, thought provoking, beautiful pics. thanks for sharing and for your honesty.

  8. Connie: Where on Shake Ridge did you live? Your deer photo was taken in the neighborhood where Pete and I have lived for 30 years.

    Our current favorite place to eat in the county is the Volcano Union Inn. Great food and service, reasonable prices, and it's 5 min from Shake Ridge/Charleston intersection.

    Best to you and the prospector this holiday season!

  9. Hi Connie,

    Volcano sure doesn't change much, does it? You know the bar at St. George was voted one of the best ten bars in America? Yup. The last time we were there, with my parents, we were the sole people throwing back cocktails. (Well, sherry anyway)
    I'm with you on your friend's garden shed.
    Lovely post and sentiments

  10. Sounds as if you had a lovely un-birthday! Blessings for the coming year Farmlady!
    Those tiny old towns have a charm all their own,I sometimes wish I lived in one. Your choice reminds me of a similar old town in Australia, Millthorpe, in New South Wales. I try to go there whenever I visit my Dad.
    God bless you on your journey.

  11. How is it that I haven't visited your blog before???? I sincerely apologize and I promise to come back more often. I, too, feel that religion should be celebrated but not forced upon others--I live in southern Mississippi and of course this is the land Baptists, although we now have our share of "heathen" Catholics since so many people who lost their homes to Katrina moved here. They actually just passed, at long last, a new liquor law that allows restaurants to serve alcohol (beer, wine & mixed drinks) by the glass. Woo hoo! It's the end of civilization as we know it! I used to live in San Francisco and loved to drive into those very hills-so full of history and so beautiful.

  12. First of all Happy Birthday! Secondly...I had that William Carlos William's quote in many journals through my life...yup it's all about the simplicity. I find my strongest connection to spirituality in nature and will not get into the details except to say..."God is in the details" (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe)

  13. Belated Happy Birthday sweetie!

    Your love of beauty and nature and sharing it with us, in my opinion, is doing God's work. Your words bring such a peacefulness to my soul when I read them and if that's not part of "religion" then I beg to differ. Beautiful post!

  14. We all illuminate something from our souls, and you my dear illuminate so much for me...peace to you my friend...glad to know I have a mom/friend figure in such a magnificent place...

  15. Happy birthday sweet Connie!!! Sounds as though you had a wonderful birthday. I, too, would love that studio....so very enchanting isn't it. Some day I hope to take a class from Christine Cox of Volcano Arts and visit this charming town. Loved seeing your photos.

  16. Happy Belated Birthday!! sounds like a wonderful day you had. hope the cold is better.

    we all seek in our own way and try to understand this thing called life. we are all on our own journey .....

  17. I also meant to say I loved the photos of the town…those are my favorite kind of places to visit, or simply drive through. I need to hit the road when my sister comes and take some photos. It may be cold, but she will enjoy the road trip too. Our dad took us on so many of them growing up, all we know is like the song by Lucinda Williams…’Car Wheels on a Gravel Road’…
    I am also distant from religion since my daughter died, and I had such bad experiences in the southern religion with the kids dad and growing up, so I am spiritual, but passive on sharing my beliefs. I love the way Christ meant for us to love…with forgiveness and understanding, as well as acceptance. We do it all in our own way.


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