Thanksgiving continuity

Just back from the regular Thanksgiving I’ve been attending for the past 8 years… this year’s was even better than it’s been during the generally wonderful gatherings we’ve shared in the past. It takes place in a beautiful box canyon between Ukiah and Clear Lake in Lake County. About 80-120 people show up. Some of us having gone for years, others are there for the first time. Every year it’s a unique combination of familiar friends and new faces, and this year’s ‘crop’ of newbies was particularly splendid.

There’s a real autumn up north as you can see. The place has a big old lodge, a half dozen cabins arranged in a u-shape, a “heart lodge” where we gather for the meal and various other party-like activities, and most deliciously, an outdoor hot tub that can hold at least 15 people easily. I had a great soak every night around midnight under brilliantly clear skies with the milky way and countless stars brightly shining down. The whole thing put me in a great mood, as you can probably detect in this pic:

A lot of the conversations revolved around our growing concerns about community, mutual aid, aging, security, etc. Friends are in the hospital underlining these issues. And happily, the event itself is becoming a major pillar of our shared lives, continuing for over a decade now, and providing an annual break from our crazy busy-ness to see each other, check in, have deep and hilarious and poignant times together, and not have to hurry off to the next event. The continuity of our gathering is now so well established that the ongoing search for stable connections and families and homes is at least partially assuaged by the increasing solidity of this event itself, which defies easy categorization…

I have about 80 photos of folks in various happy configurations. Here’s one with Lisa, our inspiring hostess and birthday girl smack dab in the middle…

The other key characters who have brought this gathering to fruition year after year are Tom and Carin, and here they are:

That’s Carin on the left and Marcie on the right.

Here’s another gang of old friends enjoying Marcie sprawled across their laps:

In years past and very briefly this year too, we’ve faced the genocidal origins of this bizarre holiday. But for the most part we take our pecular four-day break as a chance for rare conviviality, a wild collectively produced festival of fun and warmth and tender mutual care. White Wolf and Jini Reynolds joined us, the first time the two of them were in this canyon together since they helped ‘cleanse’ it of the meth-ranch that inhabited it 30 years ago and envisioned it becoming something like what it is now…

For me this gathering can be painfully squishy and dominated for stretches by new-age spiritual mush… but within a few minutes it can turn 180 degrees and be a soul-grabbing, heart-filling meeting of the minds with friends who leave me giddily inspired. Hot tubbing, dancing, hiking, cuddling and laughing (a whole lot of laughing, what a blessing!), teasing and cajoling, and yes, for my true happiness, arguing! Thanks to everyone who made this weekend possible.

For your entertainment, here’s a yootoob from the post-feast clean-up called “American Woman In the Kitchen, barefoot (not pregnant!)…

These stills capture our stars just before this performance, and also the enthusiastic audience… before too long there were about 25 of us boogeying in the adjacent dining room, ogling our dishwashing heroes in a mutual loop of endless appreciation…

I’ll leave it at that. Much more to say, much more to remember, and way too many photos to bore everyone with here…. back to politics very soon I promise. We had some new ideas and some exciting plans start to take shape… hope everyone survived or thrived during their own holidaze…

2 comments to Thanksgiving continuity

  • Ravi

    HI Chris,
    Thanks for the images and reflections, I always have too much family gathering going on here to ever get up there, but I really appreciate the gathering and the way it benefits our outward rippling communities. See you soon,

  • Alcina Horstman

    Damn you’re fast! I missed the whole thing as I went to bed (!). At least I got a minute of it…

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