I am doing the A-Z challenge, focusing on places or entities that can be found within Mendocino County. I do not intend to imply that the subjects of my writing are the most significant, only that they have personal relevance to me. Today’s letter is H for Mendocino Headlands.
Be Sure and Bring Lunch
I have become quite familiar with the Mendocino Headlands, using them as a base of operations a year ago, when I was routinely visiting with that nice Dr. Garratt, at his office in the town of Mendocino, right on the coast, about seven miles south of Fort Bragg. From Bell Springs Road, it is close to two hours’ drive to Mendocino, but we always gave ourselves some extra time, to allow for road construction, and the inevitable lumbering Winnepiggos, that mosey along at their own pace, oblivious to the real world. As a matter of fact, I date this time period as that point when I regained patience as a virtue, as a direct result of confronting these maxi-buses with grace and equanimity.
The town of Mendocino, itself, holds no attraction for Annie and me, being a touristy, expensive affair. We did attempt a meal or two there, but found that unlike most of Mendocino County, this town naturally expected that we were made out of money, and that we had plenty to spare. Well, that not being the case, we simply cruised through the town, to the shoreline, where we found, to our delight, the most beautiful coastline north of Big Sur.
Truly inspirational for a plethora of different reasons, I will start with the beauty and majesty of the Pacific Ocean. As if that were not enough, the cliffs that run alongside, long ago crafted by the pounding surf, provide a craggy, aesthetic view, from any angle that you wish to choose. In addition to the cliffs, there is the vast array of plant life, verdant and rich in color, and the unlimited species of birds, my favorite of which were the pelicans. The pelicans fly in formation, inches off the water, and every so often, they dip their prodigious beaks into the surf, to snag some unsuspecting fish from its home. I always feel a momentary pang of remorse for the poor fishie, to find itself in the formidable pouch of the pelican, but that’s what the food chain is all about.
I used the time I spent at the headlands, preparing for the imminent session with my shrink, generally having a fair idea what was in store, and psyching myself up for the approaching session. Dr. Garratt was big into Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, even though analysis was emphatically not what I sought. I was interested in contending with a mood spectrum disorder, and though Jung and Freud may have held some answers, the questions I had were geared in a completely different direction.
One of the most profoundly successful visits to the Headlands involved Annie and I making excellent time, so that we arrived with at least a half-hour to spare, so we settled in to watch the birds, and in this case, the people. Within two minutes of our arrival, I witnessed a scene involving a couple, who were oblivious to our presence. It inspired me to whip out my computer, and write a short story, that remains to this day, one of my favorites. *
Without a doubt the Headlands remain fixed firmly in my memory, linked forever with the inside of Dr. Garratt’s office, and his attempts to get me to see the irrevocable connection between me and my father. But it wasn’t my father who was experiencing technical difficulties-it was I, so I eventually decided that Dr. Garratt and I were not a fit.
Ultimately, I hooked up with Dr. Mark in Ukiah, and have left the Headlands behind, at least until the next time I feel I need some inspiration. When that occurs, I will pack up my binoculars and my computer, and head back over to the Headlands. And, oh yeah, I will be sure to bring lunch.
* The story is “Out of Sight” and can be found on my blog, under May of 2012.