“Evey Freed, how I wish I could have known you!”
Last Saturday I drove a couple of miles up the coast from Pismo Beach to Shell Beach, a lovely quiet enclave where I found parking right on Ocean Boulevard next to the cliffs and the narrow strip of beach below. There were only a couple other cars. From time to time, someone walked or jogged by. Otherwise, I had the place completely to myself.
I parked Roadcinante parallel to the beach, opened both side doors and Velcroed in the screens to let in the delicious chill of salt-tinged air, and cooked a breakfast of veggies and shallots sautéed in olive oil, scrambled with a couple of eggs, and topped with some fresh olive tapenade I picked up at Trader Joe’s (redolent with fresh marjoram = attack of swoon). Then I took my breakfast, along with the dogs, to sit on a bench at the edge of the cliff.
I ate slowly, savoring everything – the crunch of vegetables; the silken eggs; the feel of the wind on my bare skin; the dogs’ soft breath on my feet as they lay next to me, soaking up the abundant California sunshine; the rhythmic rising swell and falling ebb of the ocean.
When I had finished eating, I let the dogs lick my plate, and then I sat for a long time. Absorbing. Appreciating. Giving thanks, if you will. And chatting with Evey.
Yesterday (Monday) as I was packing up to depart from Pismo Beach, I met a couple of young men who work for Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” initiative, an awesome project where clothing is repaired and recycled rather than tossed into landfills. We talked for a while about all kinds of things, and traded favors – I took a picture of one of the young men by his truck and he took a picture of me holding a Patagonia jacket by Roadcinante, dogs included.
From Pismo Beach I drove on up to San Luis Obispo (SLO) where I dropped off the dogs with a wonderful sitter I found on Rover.com. I parked Roadcinante and was picked up by a brand new friend I’d never met, who swept me away to meet another new friend I’d never met, and an amazing afternoon unfolded from there.
I was treated to a pedicure (oh, these feet after a couple of months in desert locales!), easy-breezy girlfriend-time getting-to-know-you conversation, and a stop by the delightfully kitschy Madonna Inn (a must see), where these new friends treated me again, joining me in a toast to my dear departed father, Walter Cooper Gummere, Jr., whose 100th birthday it was (we drank a complex jammy wine from the Hahn winery, totally reasonable, highy recommended), and then dug into a scandalously large, absurdly sweet, impressively beautiful hunk of the Madonna Inn’s signature Champagne Cake.
Oh. Mah. Gawr.
Later I was gifted with some essentials for the road – a few adorable clothing items, some fancy hangers, a dish towel, and the coolest warm hat ever.
The thing is, lovely sweet people went out of their way to make my day, my journey oh so much better. We are talking about generosity for its own sake. People who give of themselves in order to brighten the world.
Like Evey Freed, whose memorial bench I sat on for quite some time last Saturday in Shell Beach. On the back of her bench there is a metal plate with these words from her grateful family:
“Evey Freed, 1924-2013.
She taught us to love and live
with a big heart and aim for the perfect day.
Sit. Relax. Enjoy.”
So I did sit, relax, and enjoy, thanking Evey all the while for being the kind of person who inspired such a lovely gift.
I guess this is what I strive for. Though I continually fall far short, too often caught up in my own stuff, this is my ideal – to take the time to practice generosity, to multiply opportunities for others to experience joy, to reflect brightness with and for others so that somewhere down the road, when I am no longer around, a person might come along and linger a while, start a conversation with me that might begin with “Hey, thanks.”