Monday, September 8, 2008

Sequoia de O

Scott and his wife Lisé call their home Sequoia de O. Scott is a friend who I met by lucky coincidence and have been fortunate to maintain contact with for some years. He was an old friend of my friend RT Pierce, who ended his life by going off the Queensboro Bridge four years ago, and I met Scott when he visited RT in NY some years earlier. We had kept in touch by email, and Scott met a woman at school in Santa Barbara a few years ago. Ever since he told me they married and bought a house in Northern California, I'd looked forward to visiting him in his new life. I first stopped by on last year's cross-country trip, and marveled at what they have created for themselves during my stay there.

So I looked forward with great anticipation to this year's visit, and it revitalized me just as last year's visit has. Scott spends most of his time (when he's not working on his painting or writing) cultivating and designing an amazing garden environment in the backyard of their 110'x60' plot of land. It is truly a botanical garden of exceptional richness and quality, with a vast number of plants, flowers trees, statues, paths with arbors and trellises, a pond with a recirculating waterfall, and two dogs; and this year two more deeper ponds are being dug, which will be interconnected by a stream and traversed by wooden bridges. No surprise that local horticultural societies offer tours of the property. Although it's pretty far from my normal world, I loved walking around the garden as Scott introduced me to innumerable plants, trees and flowers by name, reminding me to take whiffs of the more aromatic varieties. And somehow sitting out there surrounded by all that foliage and gazing at one of the Buddha statues filled me with a peaceful feeling I've rarely known. The land (like much of the Northwest) was formerly covered with redwood forests, which were ravaged by logging until as recently as the 1950s, and there are massive stumps around the landscape. The largest stump (nicknamed "Grandma") in the backyard is some 20' across and 12' high, and Scott has added a stairway up the side and railings around the top; he's presently carving one side of it to accommodate a waterfall and pool to feed the new pools and streams being constructed below. Like all redwood stumps, it has a number of secondary-growth small redwood trees sprouting from it, already sizable after only a few decades.

The house is richly decorated with his paintings and photography (mostly of the surrounding landscape and seascape), and the 2nd-story rear deck is adorned with many potted plants and trees. There's also a centrally-located wind chime about 10' tall, with low-pitched chimes tuned to a pentatonic scale. This is where I spent a good deal of time at a table working at the computer - a far cry from my normal space in my tiny Greenpoint room! A much larger wind chime hangs from a 16' tripod straddling one of the ponds under construction in the yard, emanating ever deeper tones quite different from the tinkle of most window chimes.

We went on several outings during the day - notably up to Harris Beach just over the border in Oregon, to get down among the huge rocks to watch the sun set, and inland to the Smith River Nat'l Recreation Area, driving through the towering redwood trees to the river bank. We spent a couple of evenings sitting around a fire in the fire pit in the backyard, talking about life and all manner of things., and telling crazy stories.

Scott's email signature reflects what I experienced during my visit:
Art beautifies existence as mythology shapes it and nature enriches it.

On Monday, my last afternoon there, I spent hours emptying the car and trunk and trying to remove the last of the playa dust from everything. Hopeless - you can brush it, hose it, wipe it, and when it dries there's still dust remaining everywhere. Leave it to time.

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