(Magical Hallow’s Eve to all! Today and tomorrow are my favorite 2 days of the year. I am happily enjoying them with My Sparkly Unicorn and my Winter Fairy Princess. I am a hawk. I look forward to posting the present, but as of yet, no time to write. So here is more of the very recent past. We’re almost caught up. And as soon as I am in a home, I will be back on track.)
We pull into Arcata, CA. Victorians and craftsman homes decorate the hilly streets of this redwood meets coast community, where Humboldt State University and about 30,000 absolute bohemians nestle in this oasis of green.
We enter downtown where we have reservations as Arcata hotel, a historic lodging on the city square, and we get caught up in the homecoming parade. I can plainly see the difference in the high school kids here versus where I cam from (and probably from where most people live), from the cheerleaders to the volleyball team to the football players; these kids had a live wire of eccentricity. They have a chilled out quality; maybe I can see a fierce sense of uniqueness and independence, nobody looking alike or following shopping mall trends. Perhaps it has rubbed off from their parents, or maybe just living in a place where quality of life means outdoors and the activism; from environmental to social. The air is a bit mysterious all the same and it could be I am just looking through a fog of herbal haze, once again; Arcata is like city-center of a marijuana growing rural community. There is not denying or ignoring it. Agriculture is the life here and the main crop is what some call Sensi.
As we park the truck, we see a few men in their 40’s sitting on the curb, in plain day, pulling bong hits. They are dressed in casual, high-end earthy yet professional clothes. It looks as if they are on their lunch break. This type of thing occurs throughout our 24 hour period here I am told by my Arcata sources. It’s almost unbelievable. Apparently you have to be caught with more than 50 plants for any legal action to take place. And smoking in public does not seem to bother anyone, including the police who casually stroll the town square, smiling, giving us directions to the coolest outdoor playground ever (they had real climbing walls for kids). I know this public display of highness would really bother some people, especially ones who really think marijuana is more detrimental than consuming alcohol or prescription drugs (other forms of self-medication). They wouldn’t want their kids to see it or have to explain what that ‘smell’ was. But we have no cares about that. I spent the last three years with my kids watching unconscious city development, land raping, building strip malls of box stores and useless suburban track housing. What’s worse? Explaining to them what kind of “herbs’ people were smoking or living in a place where throwing cigarette butts or fast food wrappers out their car windows as red lights is the norm? And although I don’t partake in their street corner joint passing, there is a freedom to being part of it as an observer, peeking into lifestyles so vastly and openly different from what I just lived. To watch this rebellion at work, to know it exists, thrills me. Overall, it’s not about what they are doing but the essence of people doing what they believe in; what feels right to them. It’s a wonderful to express how diverse we all are and be exepted. I hold no judgments on how anybody lives. Rather I am exillerated by the differences we all hold on to (or let go of).
We wander around in the rain all day, eating local pizza (whole wheat and organic, mine smothered in basil and spinach and sun dried tomatoes) and drinking local brew both of which were fantastic. I stop in the local herb store and buy some bath salts mixed with herbs. There are a ton of ‘street people’ begging on the streets here. For a 30,000 person town, it’s almost outrageous the number of beggers. Although they aren’t the cracked out on Meth kind, they seem to just be stoned out old hippies, and they seemed relatively harmless. I am told by my sources they are harmless, just living the same life as vegabonds as they did 30 years ago.
At night we dine on fresh sushi from the sushi bar in the lobby of our hotel. B downs about 30 pounds of raw fish, 3 oyster shooters, 2 sake bombers and 3 bottles of Asahi. Mia eats 3 pieces of yellowtail and 4 pieces of salmon sushi. The fish is so fresh, straight from the sea. The place is packed and festive, kids run around and nobody cares or tries to ‘shush’ them. It is obvious this is a community that honors the presence of their youth, undisturbed by the shouts and laugher and cries of kids. It is so refreshing. By 10pm at night the city center is vibrant with people; long haired, dreaded, styled and chic. All types dwell in this place. I smiled at the mix of people who smell like the forest and sea and those who were obviously into cleansing with soap and wearing stylish couture. All the same, they laughed together, strolled around town arm and arm and dropped dollars in the jar of the dirty barefoot dreaded kid who played the guitar at the corner.
We took the girls up to bed and I took a bath in the claw foot tub with new herbs and salts I picked up at the local apothecary that day. B went for a walk, no doubt to try out the public displays of burning the local crops. His mentality was when in Rome… He came back to our room, the girls asleep and me nice and clean and cozy in bed. He handed me one of the most delicious butter cream cupcake I had ever had. It was covered in shaved white chocolate and sprinkles, pure velvety decadence. He apparently stumbled into a bakery and espresso joint that stays open until 11pm. I devoured it and then passed out hard on the bed, listening to pellets of rain pound against the windows of the 200 year old building thinking I was in heaven.
The next day I went back to the herb store and felt inspired. I used to be a daily taker of herbal infusions; making teas, salves, poultices. Somehow along the way I stopped, but hitting this green and watery landscape has created a shift in me, I can’t help but be seduced by herbs and their magic and this land has awakened the herbalist in me. I bought bulk Nettle and Oatstraw. I knew both of these would help my varicosity issues if I made really strong infusions of them. Both are also extremely nourishing in general while pregnant (or not). I also bought senna leaf, fennel seeds, cinnamon bark, flax seeds, slipper elm and licorice root to make a brew for a gentle pregnancy cleanse. Sitting in the car without my own bathroom has been hard on the colon. Lastly I bought a big bag of yarrow to make a poultice with, that mixed with a castor oil pack should relieve some of the swelling of the veins. Herbal lore is in my roots; it’s sensual and powerful and feel connected something greater within when I make magic with green remedies.
As we left the little city of Arcata we stopped at the co-op for some outrageously sweet beet and carrot juice, fresh squeezed and then I had to jump out of the truck and run into the cutest little second hand kids shop where I bought a few pair of Baby legs, (a small obsession I have is legwarmers for both my kids and myself) and some raincoats for less than 4 bucks. When I told the mama-owner we were on our way to Bellingham to live she sighed, You are gonna love it there. It’s more special than here.
Can it be true? I look forward to the rest of my journey on the road, but I know the real adventure begins when I start a new chapter in our new city.