When I was caught in the storm this past weekend, unable to pass through the 60 foot gap in the Big Sur highway, the Post Ranch Inn kindly gave me a room for two nights, and I use the word “room” with needed and further qualification. My work is with and for my friend, Alice who provides the retail store/accommodation for the notable, smallish but much acclaimed Post Ranch Inn on the Big Sur coast of California. It in fact, has been judged one of the “Best Small Inns in the World” by Conde Nast Travel and Guide, and they should know.
When they handed me the key to my “room” it turned out to be GRIMES, which is a treehouse. The Grimes family, along with the Posts, the Pfeiffers, the Danis, the Moleras, the Burns, the Harlans, and so on, were just some of the tough pioneers who homesteaded this rugged coastland, and Billy Post, a good-old farm boy himself, most happy on a tractor, named each accommodation after one of those other rugged souls. One could only imagine what Mr. Grimes and his neighbors, living without indoor plumbing and electricity, without a road between them and a civilized town (well, we can at least connect on that one) would have thought about the current lodgings commemorating and bearing their names.
Grimes, it turns out, is one of six treehouses, and I think the best of the lot, for if you go to the Post Ranch Website, and click on “treehouses” it is pictures of Grimes which appear. The other types of accommodations include Coast Houses which are sculptured to resemble a redwood tree, everything angled and woodsy, and Ocean Houses – probably the most coveted of the lot, bermed into the edge of the cliff with grass and flowers growing on the sloping roof, accessed down a little side hobbit-hole path, and opening in full glory to a deck hanging over the Pacific Ocean. The architect Mickey Muenig conceived this masterpiece, fitting it into the old Post Ranch as if it had sprung from nature spirits. I really admire his work.
So I took my key to Grimes and feeling slightly out of my league, settled in for two nights of – I won’t say impersonating the other half, because that would insinuate that we as a society are half poor and half rich, but rather I impersonated the other “upper fraction”. Grimes, it seems, goes for about $1000. a night. The Ocean Houses more like $2500. So you see what I mean about the upper fraction. I must admit I sort of carefully insinuated myself into the unit, not really making up the bed in the morning, but definitely straightening the covers as any interloper might do. I did use the deep soaking Jacuzzi tub built of Raja slate and ladled into my bath “lavender and arnica with Big Sur botanials” bath salts ($18-) out of the laquered pomegranite bowl ($56-). I did eat the organic nuts and imported chocolate out of the refrigerator. And I definitely enjoyed the hand wrapped all cotton mattress with a French wool wrap topping ($5488-) and the 800 fill power Hungarian goose down and syriaca comforter ($820), covered with the cotton and linen duvet cover ($350-) and ditto the down pillow ($295-) and the soft as silk organic cotton sheets ($310-) I know all this because I sell them.
So what’s not to like? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, and I know it seems as if I’m a silly poor-me goose who should be thoroughly enjoying this sumptuous opportunity. But I sat there that weekend and thought all the time about home, and not to further sound like Dorothy in Oz, but it is true that there’s no place like home.
The subject of Home has been much on my mind since we embarked on this journey to move from California to Minnesota and the Nervous Nelly in me, has naturally clung to the notion that we would be “losing” our home and therefore we must hope we can re-establish it in the new location, as if it would get lost somehow in transit, maybe in Colorado or Iowa. Of course I know that home is not the physical building or the “things” that decorate it, but I have to admit that there is a great sense of comfort and familiarity in the photo of me at four with my arm around my mom which hangs above this very desk. And I would miss beyond belief the carved teak elephant table that my father had shipped from India. Or the wagon wheel hub that Robert unearthed in Bixby Canyon when he dug the foundation for our house there. Or the tortoise shell and ivory treasure chest (I know, I know – illegal and endangered materials) that Norman, my godfather sent to me from the South Pacific. Or even the rat-eared copy of “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson. Things like that which speak of home and history.
I can take all those things to Mt. Faith Ave. They are not welded down here on Castenada Lane. And obviously when I was sitting in that lovely Grimes room, truly enjoying the crackling fire and the foggy redwoods beyond, I was not reminiscing about missing my treasure chest. But I was missing the energy and essence of home. I suppose we create a space that not only reflects our taste in art and objects, but in so doing we embue the very atmosphere with ourselves. And it feels good. And we miss it.
Part of it must be the familiarity. We know that Dorothy went back to Oz eventually. But at the time all she could think of was the chickens and the cornfields and Auntie Em. And maybe if Auntie Em had been sucked up into the tornado too, Oz wouldn’t have seemed so foreign. And so, of course it’s true that if Robert had driven up the long coast and joined me, it would have been a party! We would have laughed at the chance to be upper fractions and tried all the amenities not just the bath salts, and wrapped ourselves in Post Ranch robes ($160), and he would have poked the fire because he is much better at that than I am. I have to keep in mind, that when we move across the country, we will be taking our energy and essence as well as our objects and most importantly, we will be doing it together.