This place is spectacular. A 1,200-acre eyrie in the Santa Cruz mountains, just 8 miles (but a good 30 minutes, on account of the twisty single-lane mountain roads) from Palo Alto. The residence was established about 30 years ago by Carl Djerassi, a Viennese chemist and writer who earned the money to buy all this magnificent land by inventing the Pill, God bless him. He is in his 80s now and still has a house on the property. Apparently he occasionally drops by to visit the residents. I would love to meet him, if only to thank him for keeping me child-free all these years. We have a great group: two fiction writers, a poet, a choreographer, a composer, a sculptor, and two visual artists whose work defies categorization. A lovely bunch, all grownups, no narcissists or snooty entitled types or crazy misanthropes (all of whom do tend to crop up with annoying frequency at artists colonies). The staff is friendly and helpful, and the food is excellent. Chef Dan makes us dinner M-F, and there hasn’t been a less-than-scrumptious meal yet. He keeps the fridge stocked, and we forage for breakfast, lunch and weekend meals.
I’m working well here. I’ve been waking early for me, at around 8:00. I shower, have breakfast, read the Times and start writing at about 9:30. I work for several hours, cobble together a quick lunch, then continue writing till 5:00 or so, at which point I take my reward for my labors in the form of a one- to two-hour hike around the property with some of my fellow residents. There are pathways throughout that lead through stands of towering redwoods and across rounded green mountains that look like perfect hobbit dwellings, and around every turn one discovers amazing sculptures by the many artists who have been here.
Happiness is the ability to saturate oneself in extreme beauty, sore leg and butt muscles, a full stomach, good company, and 3 pages of new prose daily. That’s my current definition, anyway.