I DO indeed appreciate magnificent surroundings. Although I wonder if I don’t just light up at anything shiny, and it all looks shiny to me.
Al said once, following some lengthy poetic exuberance on my part over a glade or glen or blossom: “I suppose it’s a total waste to rent the place to anyone but someone like you.”
I think he liked hearing it, and felt, himself, the same way about Big Sur, and (how stunning!) not everyone did.
WILBUR THE PIG
Wilbur was such a hoot. To me he was always cuddlesome. Well, almost. Pigs have a particular, er, way, about them. They’re actually insane. Although I say that with great affection. He tried to kill me more than once when, following joyful pasture picnics the very day before, he couldn’t remember who I was coming into his stall with breakfast, and was sure I was interloping enemy writ large. One is always smart to approach a piggy with food. It distracts. And of course they’re all nearly blind. Don’t ever get knocked over by a pig, they’ll stomp you to death given the chance.
All that aside, I saw Wilbur as an incredibly smart pig with a delightful sense of humor. He liked a good time. He would always do some surprising move, you can’t predict much about a pig, turn on a dime. And he was incredibly stubborn. If you said Go Left, just because you said it he’d either Go Right, or try to run you down out of spite. Pigs are fast but don’t leap well, there is that.
One day Wilbur just vanished. Gone. Spottings on Highway One near Fernwood. Was that Wilbur heading over the bridge to Clear Ridge? Wilbur was in my backyard an hour ago, I’m sure it was him. ETC ETC ETC. Well the bingo call was from a friend high up, two miles! up the next road, nobody knows how he got in the front gate unless he waited for a car to pass and open the security lock, and two miles up is Wilbur and it’s getting dark. The idiot Mrs Jardine actually instructed me, the swineherd, to walk up there (Wilbur newly spotted at three miles up and counting) and guide the impossible pig back home, with, errr, use a stick. He’ll walk in front of you. Really, he will.
Now it’s dark of night, except there’s a full moon. And the impossible sons are recruited to drive their pick-up truck and rescue Wilbur. Well it’s an even longer story, but they did, all of us did, pig in a blanket (too hysterical and also scary) screaming and hooting and attacking finally into the back of the truck and home. Getting him into the barn and paddock again was real tricky. Wilbur wasn’t talking to anybody politely for a good two weeks after that and refused to remember that I loved him so, once.
The best part of the whole story is that in the aftermath I am entirely convinced that Wilbur went up to the top of that mountain in order to see the full moon on Pfeiffer Beach below. It was a night brilliantly clear, filled with stars, a stunning night. Pigs are really poets at heart, with extraordinary sensitivities, wrapped in exteriors that border on the offensive. Too odd. What a planet.
Jesus it was a perilous emotional delicacy that place. But honestly, I got so much out of being there. Apparently my 1-1/2 years was a local record. I absolutely loved the cabin, I had the gallery going within a year, 2010, I was in about the best place on the planet, in a garden paradise five minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches in existence, and taking care of four fantastic horses and cats and dogs, Dusty the parrot, and a pig named Wilbur, something I’d never done in my life. So I figured early on I’d make it work and get what I wanted for me out of it, and I did.
One of the things that really made my heart sing was the complexity of managing all the land, 80 acres, and thinking about what was there and how to make it better and make sure nothing got neglected. It was far and away not what I was there for paying a premium rent knocked down a bit to feed the horses and Wilbur, and when they were touring, the house animals.
Everything was actually under control only I hadn’t noticed. There were tree surgeons who cut worrisome limbs, roofers being lined up, builders arranged for this and that, gardeners who were beyond superb, ferriers and vets and groomers, and eventually I got to see them all in play there.
But initially I sort of had a joy at feeling I was the glue that held an otherwise negligent rock and roll family together. Imagine how my arrogance irked! They’d been living fine without me before that, and none of them shared my perpetual sense of emergency. Mostly because I didn’t know beans about any of it and had so much to learn about what does take care of itself without meddling and that everything had been pretty much planned for. I’m not a scold type and am generally so happy that we managed to get along mostly.
In my own defense, it was an easy mistake on my part. The twin sons had gone off to Monterey to go to college before I got there, and I wasn’t there but a week before Al and Mary Ann headed out on tour for a month leaving me with phone numbers and lists of instructions. Boy I was in high adrenalin for sure the whole time.
Big Sur can be overwhelming enough just for its exquisite self, and that alone near blinded me. All the additional business of where I was and for whom, well I don’t know how I wasn’t prostrate in the high grass panting and delirious. Come to think of it, some of the time I was. It’s an unbelievably stimulating environment.
When I told them I was moving on it was met with absolute shock. I don’t think anyone ever left them before. By the time I’d left every family member had shouted at me at least once, Wilbur had charged me, each horse bitten me, the parrot had attacked, and the dogs snapped, the cats scratched.
What a time I had!