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Bodega Bulletin - February 2015

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Bodega Bulletin - February 2015

When it comes to defining “love,” everybody can attest - it is a part of everyday life.  I hope I’ve been clear enough in previous columns to detail examples of the strong, intimate bond that ties Bodega together.  We’re a loving, forgiving community.  I credit a huge part of the love we generate here to the history we carry on our shoulders, which could range from the sepia toned pictures we display in the shops around town, to the dirt we wash off our hands in our quest to continue a our way of life, to the respect we show our elders, to the way we conduct ourselves when in comes to forgiving those we cohabitate with, to the storytelling and memories we share in gatherings.  That being said, the loss associated with love can seem irreplaceable, in a way is, but there are certain

Walter, whose mother was a Gleason, asked what the column would be about.  My criteria states that I reflect the people, places, and events that define our home.  “I have ten pages of brainstorming,” I sighed, “though no final product to show for it.”  It’s ironic how something so prevalent can also be elusive. He pulled me into the back room of the Casino and pointed to a faded sepia-toned picture of young children from the Schoolhouse.  “You see that woman, that’s my mother, she was a Gleason, and her mother was a Fitzpatrick.”  I elevated myself onto a chair to take a closer gaze at Ms. Gleason.  Even from the fade, it was easy to see that Walter had inherited her eyes.  He plopped proudly back onto his stool wearing a smirk, “but, that’s about all the history I know.”

I spent a great amount of my childhood on Welling ranch.  My grandmother had a quaint little ranch house she called home for a lick over thirty years, and both of my parents lived there during my mother’s pregnancy.  My aunt Tania Prosser and uncle Don Miguel run half of the five hundred acres to this day.  They raise Angus cattle, a large flock of sheep, doves, border collies, and guinea pigs amongst other animals.  Don’s mother did the same while she was living on the property.  

I didn’t have many memories surface about my young life in that house until I returned to Sonoma County when I was nine years old.  That ranch house was the first place my father took me after we hadn’t seen each other in seven years.  Near the end of the property line there is a hill.  The cell phone tower that now sits at the apex had not yet been erected.  We walked from the house to the top of this hill, a road I had been allowed to drive while sitting on his lap as a five year old.  Our trek was loud with gusts of wind.  When we reached our destination overlooking the town beyond, we stood in silence.  The power lines buzzed sporadically with electricity and the wind had calmed to a soft whistle.  “The last time I was up here the sun was setting, and I thought the world was ending,” he reflected, “I never thought I’d be here with my daughter.”  I was so unsure during the drive there, had felt like a foreigner in a world that could have been a dream, but at that moment, I knew I was home.

On the other end of family inheritance, there’s love shared with those who aren’t blood.  I spent last week behind the bar asking patrons and friends alike about love, or, more specifically, their loved ones.  It’s easy to tell when someone is truly in love; everything is illuminated!  I talked to a man who had just returned from a vacation with his wife.  The main sentence that caught me when it came to his description of their bond was “we’re always getting younger.”   When I spoke to Brad Truline, whose true love was his old canine friend, Auggie, he told me “love is promise for adventure, a journey taken together wherein you never really leave each other’s side.”  When I spoke to a writer’s husband, he told me of his admiration for the blood and sweat his wife puts into her work. “It’s beautiful, to see her frustration and rage, then I read it, and it evolves into something clear and audible.”  She IS that process, to him, love in the truest sense.  

I found that the common denominator with this collective of folks-aside from the fact that they consider what or whom they love their best friend- was this: the only expectation they initially held with love was to learn, therefore, grow in a conducive direction.  Vicariously, it makes one’s own assets more prevalent.  Not to say that love is black or white-sometimes there’s regression or stagnancy-but the journey, or consummate shared in love opens us up to learn more about our surroundings, an overall should put us at a level, happy place.

The hardest part-the loss of love-has not escaped me.  In fact, I’m still trying to figure out if that is the base of this column.  Most of my conversations were about that loss, and the challenge of letting a “physical being” go while still carrying the love shared between two souls.  In response there were a lot of tears shed.  Barbara Peterson, a long time local who lost her husband last May says it sweet and simply, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?I would absolutely say ‘yes!’  Last May I lost my husband and my best friend: Nick Peck. He was my friend for many years before we started dating...this was such a wonderful situation.  We already had trust and shared experiences. Our children knew and cared for both of us.  Nick and I had a “Big Love.” We were happy and in love for so long. I feel blessed to have known Nick and to have loved Nick...26 years of joy!  Nick taught me not only how to love, but how to be loved. I will carry that love and carry his smile for the rest of my life.”  What a challenge, carrying on after we can no longer touch or see who or what we love.  We erect statues and tombstones alike, share stories, make art, sing, hang pictures, all in remembrance.  My grandmother has since left her home on Joy Road.  After my grandfather passed, the house became too lonely and difficult to upkeep.  I remember the gravity of her pain-I moved in with her upon my second return to Bodega at a fresh 19 years old, just after Dale had passed.  We couldn’t fill the void, so we packed up and tried to learn how to love ourselves, again. 

All that we love is all that we own, and as Leonard Cohen put it, “Love’s the only engine of survival,” so onward we go.