b o l i n a s

[ 20:38 sunday 12 march – bolinas, california ]

traveling from san diego to san francisco last friday i felt a powerful urge to get away somewhere remote for a day or two. warren said he knew just the place. yesterday he and ann brought me here to bolinas. it’s exactly what i needed.

san francisco is less than twenty miles away down the coast, but it might as well be another planet. bolinas consists of fifteen hundred independent-minded people scattered around the tip of a peninsular; a lagoon on one side, the pacific on the other. the town centre boasts a bar, a general store, an organic co-op and a tiny museum. most of the buildings are wooden. many have hippy murals painted on their flanks.

i’m sitting now in my room in the “grand hotel”. in point of fact the hotel comprises two rooms above a bric-a-brac shop. the room itself is delightful, all sloping floors, odd nooks and crannies, mismatched antique furniture and mid-century prints. there’s a kitchen downstairs in much the same vein (an ancient stove with flues coming off in all directions), a freezing bathroom and an overgrown garden at the back. i adore it. the proprietor is a twinkle-eyed old fellow called vic who’s lived here thirty years.

this morning it was pouring with rain but i went out walking anyway. filaments of cloud curled mysteriously through the trees on the surrounding hillsides. the sea was like hammered pewter. on the beach i came across a raven sitting on a tree trunk, tearing at the remains of some animal. he let me creep up really close, just a few metres, and watch him as he dined. after a while he flapped away so i carried on walking and just continued with no hurry and no objective.

eventually the rain eased off and the sky got brighter. a bit later the sun came out so i took off my coat and shirt and lay down on the sand for a while. there was nobody around, just the trickle of rainwater draining off the cliffs, the chatter of sea birds and the rumble of surf on the reef. some time later the sky clouded over and it started feeling chilly so i turned round and made my way back again.

the vegetables here are phenomenal, especially the kale. all the farms round here are devoutly organic. apparently prince charles visited a couple of weeks ago to swap notes. the locals emphasise that he spent three days here and just one in san francisco.

there’s a kind of vibrant town democracy here i’ve never encountered before. a lot of people seem to care about the community enough to participate in regular committees and ballots. amongst other things they’ve managed to sustain a moratorium on new houses for thirty years, for which they had to win the supoort of the supreme court, and successfully opposed a state decision to spray pesticide over the area. these are big achievements amongst many more quotidian matters. this is probably the closest thing i’ve encountered to a greek city state and it’s made a big impression on me. i’ll be fascinated to learn more.

tomorrow morning at quarter past six i’ll get on a bus that will deposit me in marin an hour and a half later. being here in bolinas has refreshed my spirit and given me space to reflect on everything that happened in san diego. i’m ready to return to the fray.

: c :

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