Kage Baker loved the little town of Pacific Grove.
It’s an exquisite small community of highly individualized shops, world-class restaurants, Victorian homes in all sizes from estate to seaside cottage, and paradisial natural beauty. It’s one of the few places in the world where Monarch butterflies winter over; when they grace its trees, the air is full of floating embers. Otters loll about just off-shore, being criminally cute. Whales sport in the deeper water further out. Cypress trees are everywhere, frozen in dancers’ poses. The waves are huge and majestic, and even the foam carries a tint of cobalt blue.
Being right beside Monterey – itself a treasure trove of food and art – doesn’t hurt, either.
What drew Kage there originally, though, was that Robert Lewis Stevenson spent a lot of time in Monterey (and Pacific Grove) when he came to America in looney pursuit of his American divorcee. He won the lady, and eventually wrote Treasure Island based on the wild rocky sea coast. So for Kage, that indicated that the area was a cool place to pursue personal art and dreams.
When she had tracked Stevenson’s progress through every section of both cities he had ever visited, and visited every adobe in the area (Monterey is reputed to have the most adobes still in use of any city in the U.S.), and taken all the tours including the Ghost Tour (where we were pursued through the Old City Cemetery at night by geese) – Kage decided the charm and beauty of Pacific Grove was perfect for Writer Escape Weekends.
These were predicated on being someplace here we could not be found easily, in peaceful and amiable surroundings, and doing nothing but eat, sleep and write. No tourist activities. We started out in motels with kitchens, so we could do our own cooking and only go out once a day for dinner; we eventually graduated to the all-embracing comfort of the Green Gable Inn. Our room was a temple of quiet and beauty and the view was nonpariel. Being a B&B, the Green Gables provided us with breakfast, afternoon wine and cheese, and cookies and sherry at night. It became an annual retreat.
When Kage died, Pacific Grove and the Green Gables went on my emotional “Never Again” list. I didn’t see how I could bear it, or justify it, or ever need what those weekends had given. But I did have to write … So, last year, I screwed my courage to the sticking point and went back. Sniveling coward that I can be, I persuaded my friend Neassa to come with me for emotional support – and, mirabile dictu, it worked! I wrote stuff, stuff worth keeping! It was pleasant and calming and downright restorative!
This year, I reserved my favourite room in my favourite B&B once again. I took us to dinner at The Forge In The Forest, a restaurant that some portion of Kage must surely haunt from time to time, enjoying cocktails by the lit forge in the bar. Writing happened, and I found the seeds of a new Ermenwyr story, and we got into such a fit of giggles in the room Saturday night that the next-door neighbors came knocking on our door at 1:30 AM to suggest we might want to shut the hell up … I think they expected a pair of college-age idiots doing all that giggling. But it was only two middle-aged ladies, telling Faire stories till way too late at night.
It can be rather healing to get busted for loud giggling late at night, when you’re as old as I am. Thanks, grumpy neighbor. I needed that.
I don’t think we’re going to repeat the Ghost Tour, though. Kage must have been rolling her eyes quite enough as it was.
Oh! To top the grand weekend off, I got home and found that my stuffed Anomalocaris had arrived by mail. A picture is enclosed, just because it’s cute. Explanation to follow!