I took part of the day off from puppy care to join my son at Bouverie Nature Preserve today. He’s part of a jr. docent program. As the kids started their training, the parents hiked. My group went to see the Peregrine falcon nest at the waterfall. On the way, we saw a newt, banana slugs, turkey vulture remains, water in the creek. Our docents were incredibly knowledgeable and fun to hang out with. The weather was great until the hail started! It was so restorative to be out in nature, looking at the moment.
David Bouverie bought the original land as a retreat and destination for his wealthy San Francisco friends. Eventually, part of his mission was to instill a love of nature in young people. Being on that property reminded me of my great aunt. By the time I knew Aunt Len, she had a well-established apple orchard and sheep farm in Wisconsin. We’d help her pick apples, make apple cider and set up for the annual art fair. She hosted family Christmas parties and welcomed us into her life whenever we wanted to drop by. There were always too many animals to remember, living in her barn, or even in her house. During lambing season, she always had a few orphans sharing her bedroom. A trip to Aunt Len’s was always an adventure.
As I got older, I learned her story. Her father had bought the farm for her when her fiance left her. She was sort of banished from the family and their upper class affairs. But she went back to school to learn about agriculture and started a new life. She continued to play cello in a local quartet and hosted the art fair in the orchards. She was every kid’s idea of what life was all about. A free spirit who worked hard and enjoyed herself.
As we picked apples or made cider, she’d tell us stories. We never knew what was true and what was imaginary. But it didn’t matter. It was a magical place in a magical time with a magical woman.
So as I hold my little Einstein or play hard with Bitey, I can’t help but feel Aunt Len smiling down at me, approving of this little adventure.