The Lost Coast & Beyond

Image result for needle rock california

Image result for needle rock california

“Yesterday…I was able to take my lunch to Needle Rock and spend the afternoon there. Quiet, empty, even the sheep ranch is now vacated….when I arrived there was a layer of mist hanging about half way down the mountain—casting metallic blue shadows on the sea far out. And near shore the water was green and ultramarine—long quiet rollers furling themselves in orderly succession and crashing on the beach, hundreds of birds—pelicans—cormorants patrolling the water, scores of young brown gulls, and then sea lions rising for air and swimming under the rollers just before they’d break. (The rain falling on the house sounds like the sea).

Image result for needle rock california

“Very quiet and peaceful on the shore. Gradually the mist descended and veiled everything so that you could barely see the waves breaking at the foot of the cliff. I can still think of nowhere I would rather settle than at that ranch—if it could stay more or less as it is.

The other day we drove to Patrick’s Point beyond Eureka. …I sat in the sunny haze over the sea and listened to sea lions barking on a rock.”

–Thomas Merton (1915-1968) , Journals, October 11, 1968

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On this visit to the Lost Coast of Northern California, my friend Merton was on a quest to find a future relocation site for his hermitage in Kentucky. He had settled on purchasing the  caretaker’s cottage at a small defunct sheep ranch near Needle Rock at Shelter Cove as his choice. (It has since become a Park Visitor’s Center). But before relocating, Tom was on his way to explore what he planned to be a several years’ long pilgrimage in Asia to study with various Buddhist and other traditional Asian spiritual masters. Two months later, on December 10, he was electrocuted in Bangkok, mostly likely in a CIA assassination hit.

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It was in the declining flush of a beautiful autumn evening, that I stood alone in the quiet solitude of a stately forest’s edge. I had wandered long, in the spirit of deep and solemn meditation, through scenes which might well arouse the soul of the poet, or quicken the painter’s eye…. The forest was full of rich coloring and exuberant foliage. Scarlet, purple, gold—the different shades of brown, from its darkest and reddest duskiness, to the palest fawn hue—a soft and saddening intermixture of greyish tints, contrasting with the glossy green of the yet unchanged oak, the monarch of trees, and his many and strong wood relatives—and with the bluer verdure of the pines, the silver-lined laurel leaves, and the feathery cedar—all these were mingled to make a splendor gorgeous, yet harmonious, and as I gazed upward at the sun, which beamed, mild and red, through an atmosphere of blue and softening mist, I caught his ruby glance down the glossy green ash-leaves, and thought in my soul that there ought to be, if there were not, an inhabiting spirit for every leaf in the forest, and for every rich sun-gleam that colored and rayed the air, in this glowing and glorious Indian summer!

–Mary Howard, “Mr. Lindsay’s Manuscript,” c.1840

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.

Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.

A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.

–Washington Irving (1783-1859)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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