This journal focuses on the art, history, culture, and wildlands of the northern Big Sur coast. Periodic entries and documents appear at random here.



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« "Love is a river. Drink from it." | Main | The Loss (?) of Our Mountain Home »

At Mundaka with Peter Evans

When Debi and I first came to upper Rocky Creek, we made sure to listen as closely as we could to those who had been living here long before we arrived.

And I remember very vividly sitting in the cabin Peter built by hand himself—and noting in rapt attention so many close artistic details in Peter's work. This was a way of being in the canyon that we needed to learn. And not just Peter, but his cabin itself, was already teaching us.

And now nearly 20 years later—and just days after Peter's beautiful handmade cabin had burned down in the same fire that also took our own place that we had learned to create—Peter wasn't about to allow losing his cabin to deter him from playing flamenco guitar so beautifully on his usual nights at Mundaka.

Sehra and Peter Evans

Coming to Mundaka, Debi and I were preparing to meet a friend who had lost everything. Instead we met a friend who was just beginning.

If Peter hadn't had a guitar (or daughter) in hand, he'd have had an adze or plumb-line.

It was as if the rebuilding had already begun. But this time the building would be explicitly generational. It wouldn't be a building that one built for only one's own remaining lifetime.

"I want Sehra and Dylan involved in everything," Peter said.

And Sehra and Dylan already are actively involved in everything.. What is created from the ashes of Peter's handcrafted cabin will be something both old and new. It will honor the creation of the past by carrying that creation forward into a new creation now. It will serve both what was—and what new inspiration is begging to be set free now.

That's not—by any means—all of upper Rocky Creek sitting around that table. But it's some of it. Dorothy and Greg Cole are just off camera. Debi's taking the photograph. Joel Severson is an honorary citizen. 

Rebecca, who was raised in upper Rocky Creek, was telling Debi and I how important we were to her—as if we were some elders.

"Rebecca," I said, "Debi and I sat around Ed and Dianne's kitchen table and learned from them. Your grandparents Jack and Elizabeth were still living up on Twin Peaks when no one else was living there. The first time I met Jack and Elizabeth they were out in the road filling in ruts with shovels. Debi and I haven't taught you anything."

She wouldn't agree.

You get the point. There is a generational beauty in this great loss that is worth perhaps more than anything.

When your own children—and the children of your friends—want to rebuild on what you and their parents have done, what you've lost begins to change.


Thank you, Gabriel Georis and Mundaka—and Dorothy and Greg Cole—for your warm hospitality.

Reader Comments (3)

community brings rebirth
the gifts of good food, wine and company
laughter emerges
wounds heal

Dear Chris and Debi,
Thank you for your sweet, powerful, profound, humble and somewhat self deprecating words. Yes, we
still feel, and in some cases, still look young, but you sitting around that table, regardless of age, are elders in
wisdom and life experience. Choosing to live in an area with such blessing, beauty and peace, was a risk we were all willing to take, knowing full well, that someday there may be a price to pay. It was just a matter of timing. It could have been me and Joyce sitting around that table with you, trying to make sense of it all, wondering what to do next.Thinking about what would or could have happened had we been there. Could we have saved Sweetwater? And I grieve for the Tibetan Buddhist community that just began the renewal of that gathering place, using it for what the Spirit has always intended. And mostly I grieve for my former neighbors and friends, feeling disconnected when I wanted so much to be connected, reading and taking in every scrap of news about people and places there. We left Sweetwater because it was time. And we're so grateful for those years and for the friendships made and deepened. Like you, I long to walk again the place I most loved and gave myself too, perhaps to glimpse in the ashes a vision of what may yet be.

July 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Lyke


Debi and I love you and Joyce exactly as if we were still doing yoga together in your living room or yurt at Sweetwater! Exactly as if you and I and Gordon and my friend Dave were once again sitting around the table up at our place by candlelight having the sweetest and most intimate of conversations.

What a gift to all of us upper Rocky Creek has been and continues to be.

There are epochal moments of place and history into which one wishes one could be reincarnated. Maybe Paris in the 20's for some. Or San Francisco in the summer of love. Or the very days when you and Joyce were at Esalen.

But there's no moment of place in time that I'd rather be re-born into than the one we were both born into together during our time together in upper Rocky Creek. No other hallowed poets and sages and outlaws I'd have rather been among. No more golden era. It's no accident whatsover that among the sweetest messages Debi and I have received are yours (both here and on Facebook when you first learned of our loss and Jeanne Brown Hopkins' comment in the blog-post that precedes this.

Sanctuary indeed.

I always think of our particular nook in the woods as a refuge within a refuge. The fire hasn't destroyed that. It's just cleaned up the yard a bit.

Not a coincidence either that it would take the fire to properly introduce Kay and Cory and me.

Refuge within a refuge.

I grieved when Jeanne left. Celebrated when you and Joyce arrived. Grieved when you and Joyce left.

But none of us has left at all.

Much, much love, dear, dear friends!

PS As of word I received from Todd today, the yurt, upper cabin, and sleeping room currently are still standing. What Jeanne would call the "gate-house," the sauna, and the greenhouse we reference such things in the canyon these days...(like our own scattered small places) all "ash."

I don't need to point out to the preacher the liturgical associations:)

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris

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