Thanks be to Northern California, this tiny, beautiful slice of deep goodness and beauty, a place equal parts graceful and wild. It really has become somewhat of a home for me; I don’t feel like a visitor or a vacationer anymore. I know the ins and outs of the farm and I know what needs to be done. And my hands are (generally) capable of doing whatever it is.

I’ve swooned a lot over the beauty of this place, how stunning the sky is and the way the fog rolls in at night. But I haven’t fully fallen for all of the living, animate things here until this past week. Tim and Susie have a really incredible community of friends and family, and while the farm is geographically isolated, there is no lack of social connections. Some of my favorite days here were spent in the company of various members of Tim and Susie’s wide circle of friends. I am, as always, amazed at the simplicity of human connection, and how much it matters.

I think about the quote in The Rules of Inheritance, a book full of grief and the sometimes-grace of it, “I am silent, marveling at the power we have to unlock a person.” Amanda sharing her life with me driving between Fort Ross and Gualala, Patrick sharing his with me sitting with our feet in the river, Susie’s life spilling out in the garden and Tim’s in the kitchen. And then mine in little fragments too, trading pieces of myself for pieces of others. Somehow becoming a mosaic of it all, or hoping to.

And I can’t possibly leave out the most important creatures of all, the ones that brought me here and kept me here: the sweet, sweet goats. Portia and Callie running into the barn in the morning, Juliette bouncing carelessly behind them, their noses buried in a flake of alfalfa. Juliette: the gift that brought the milk, the one that made this all possible. Watching Tim make goat cheese for the first time, I was thankful. Tonight I made it, stirring the culture and rennet into the milk, putting on the lid and crossing my fingers. So I’m trying to be thankful and present, trying to take the time to lie in the pasture with Juliette and be her jungle gym since she has no other playmates. These goats and what they give us, what they can create… it still amazes me.

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