A Return to the Farm

Sometimes serendipity takes you by surprise – but sometimes, if you really pay attention, you can catch it with its hand in the future jar. After serving a Vipassana course back in April near North Fork, CA, I had experienced a great stroke of luck. At the end of the week, a fellow meditator, a Thai man named Sathya, had informed me that he was visiting a farm up the road and asked me to come along. Of course I’d agreed and as soon as I had entered the property and met Hansel, the farm owner, I knew – right then and there – that this place would hold a great importance to my future.

I had been in touch with the family soon after returning to LA, expressing my desire to offer them a little rent in exchange for letting me come up from time to time. They told me that that sounded like a great idea and to just give them some heads up before I came through. I could have easily put it off, after all, who has the time or capacity to stop life and go live on a farm? Well, the beauty of a lot of the work I I is that is can be done online – and the farm was blessed with DSL and even decent AT&T reception. Technically people didn’t event have to know I was on a farm 🙂

So soon after a joyous July 4th in the woods of NorCal, I ascended through the winding mountain roads to North Fork. I passed through the little town and continued driving into the Sierras, carefully noting my odometer so I would not miss the nondescript turnout for the farm. I had even made a note of the combination lock of the gate, so when I finally found it after a few wrong turns, I was able to open it right up and find my way to the small cliffside studio I had rented for the week.

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Part of the deal however, was that I had promised to help out on the farm as much as I could and the very next day at the crack of dawn I found myself, together with a handful of volunteers, moving large amounts of earth to create some new fruit tree terraces. It was a extremely liberating feeling, being out in the sunshine, creating something with my energy that would produce unquantifiable amounts of new energy in the future, in the forms of apple, pear and cherry trees. Around lunch time, the days work would come to an end and we would all gather in the main house for a big vegetarian lunch.

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I spent the afternoons and evenings in quiet solitude down at the studio. Writing in my journal, doing yoga on the porch and reading a slew of old books, magazines and articles that I’d neglected over the previous months. Occasionally I would take small hikes around the property, discovering small waterfalls in hidden groves and exploring the rusting artifacts in the farms junk yard. As evening fell, I would often sit on the large rock that clung to the cliff’s edge outside the studio and look at the winding river one thousand feet below. When the sun set it would often casting rich reds and purples long after the burning yellow orb had disappeared behind neighboring mountains.

This had been the first time I had visited the farm since discovering it in late April. As I locked the gate behind me, I was glowing with a sense of calm satisfaction and creative fulfillment, ready to tackle whatever the City of Angels was cooking up for me next. It could toss me around and suck my energy, but as long as I knew this farm was here, I knew I could always have a place to heal and get ready for the next iteration.

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Wild Things Sanctuary in the Woods of Ithaca, NY

Baby. Animals. Everywhere! By the time I arrived, Victoria’s Wild Things Sanctuary (501c3) had multiple raccoons, 2 baby deer, innumerable squirrels, a couple of day old skunk, groundhogs, a vocal crow, 6 baby ducklings, 2 angry possums and a chipmunk. Understandably she was a bit spread thin to entertain me, but fortunately I had enough on my plate. The day after I arrived I realized that my website had been hacked and become a Wachovia Bank phishing trap. All my files were gone but luckily after a couple of very anti-social days I managed to restore my blog’s pictures and writing.

Also, Josh was more than happy to entertain me, visiting his friends who were playing a game of ‘Smugglets’ which involved tossing two croquet balls connected by a rope (AKA ‘the whore’) into goals by the use of curved sticks called Smugglets. We also took a road trip to Jeffs farm, to catch a successful glimpse of a reported pilated woodpecker, to shoot some guns and pieces of wood floating on a lake and then to go fishing in the same lake. On a hike afterward he took me to a cabin that he’d used as a basecamp in hunting season and where a young deer head was still hanging from a tree. Joshua also took me to a local farmer’s market and we hopped a fence near a gorge to relax at one of his favorite chillin’ spots.

Sudden rise in gorges suicides prompts ugly chain link fences on all the bridges in close proximity to the school. In truth, the shear drops do make spontaneous suicide that much easier, although they’re no match for a really dedicated jumper. (Perhaps that’s just enough of a deterrent though…)

Late night Law and Order marathons with Bubba the rabbit and Picchu the chinchilla became the norm. By the end of the week the animal situation was so hilarious that I offered to make a video of “A Day at Wild Things Sanctuary…”

It was then back on the opulent Cornell “Campus to Campus” bus that delivers you directly, pampered with Wifi, hot drinks and snacks, to downtown Manhattan in under 4 hours.

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Victoria rehabilitating two young fawns at WTS. As a struggling non-profit organization – she could always use your help!

EPIC: The Death Valley Dunes 2010

Wild Skies

A few times a year a group of adventures seeking individuals meet up and go on EPIC outdoor adventures. This is the 3rd year returning to the Eureka sand dunes of Death Valley to spend a night on the dunes, under the bright stars.

Group Shot

There’s nothing like retreating to the desert with some of the smartest people you know to discuss topics such as quantifiable morality, malleability of social order, altruistic incentive, interstellar logistics, routine hacking and continued experiments in experience engineering.

The Dunes

The “booming” dunes of Death Valley are just a handful in the world where the conditions are just right that the sand, as it shifts emits a deeply resonant groaning! A magical place filled with old mines, bizarre rock formations jutting up from the austere desert landscape. More pics here…