How I Almost Started Writing: Russian River

I am standing on a cliff above the Russian River. The green stone is in my hand and the sun has been setting forever.

Try as I might, I cannot find a good way to explain the fact that seals and cows live just a few hundred yards away from each other. The best I can come up with is:

“Seals or not, this is cattle country.”

…which is undeniably silly and surreal.

I found the green stone waiting for me on the beach near Bodega Bay. There is absolutely no reason for me to place any significance on the finding of this rock, but I know that I will carry it across the continent and across another sea. Years later, if I work at it, I will remember how cold the wind was the day I found it and that I took my shoes off anyway and walked in the surf.

I take a light supper at the Mystic Isle Cafe. Just handful of people here. The lights are off in the bar. Chairs stacked on tables. When I come out, the sky is filled with stars. The ocean is purple. Even now the sun is still setting.

I am thinking of other sunsets of mine along the coast.

I am thinking of Santa Cruz and of Point Reyes and also about that crazy road to half Moon Bay where you come up over the mountain top and then take a long swooping curve down the other side through the smell of burning brakes wondering if you can catch a glimpse of the sea which you can’t but you can fly off the road trying.

There are so many curves you can’t help but get a little dizzy… like the time I had to ask my friend to pull over at the entrance of the Zen center so that I could throw up. How many people find enlightenment at just this particular point in the road I couldn’t say, but I’ll never forget how hard I laughed at the friendly soul who honked.

Should it be strange that I mix all of these trips together?

Weaving between the redwoods, I can’t keep my eyes off the river. The green stone is in my pocket. At last, it is good and truly dark.


How I Almost Started Writing is a series of brief portraits focused on the times in my life where I found myself on the verge of focusing solely on the writing life.

11 thoughts on “How I Almost Started Writing: Russian River

  1. Gotta be careful – the north coast is famous for destroying the best laid non-writing plans – didn’t you see the siren warning for writers???

  2. @Mallory I saw it but then someone clonked me on the head with all that scenery and I promptly forgot. :)

  3. @Ulla Thanks for pointing that one out. I labored hard over the right order for that particular phrase.

    @Mallory I wish I could but one of those cows made off with my sharp stick!

  4. This is so rich. Rich colors – green stone, purple ocean, star(light), redwoods, and in the photo the azure to cerulean water, orange to salmon sky, and the black of the silhouetted rocks. Rich scents of river bank, sea salt, meadow, smoking asbestos (actually asbestos isn’t used in brakes now), the mix of ale, sweat and pipe tobacco, I’ll leave it at that. Rich sounds – gentle wash of water against the bank, braying cows, barking seals, clanking plates and pints, squalling tires, a channel bell.

    I think I’m trying to play in the wrong league.

  5. @Deb Like Mallory said, the scenery there is evil. 😉

    Thanks for the kind words, but don’t sell yourself short!

  6. Jamie, each time I believe you have written my favorite post you fool me and write one that tops it. I have decided that they are all my favorite! You truly have a gift for pulling readers into the story and subtly communicating textured layers of feelings without ever discussing them. It is a beautiful pieced that pulled me in and had me closing my eyes and imagining…

    Thank you Jamie, thank you.

  7. “Years later, if I work at it, I will remember how cold the wind was the day I found it and that I took my shoes off anyway and walked in the surf.”

    “wondering if you can catch a glimpse of the sea which you can’t but you can fly off the road trying.”

    “Weaving between the redwoods, I can’t keep my eyes off the river. The green stone is in my pocket.”

    To heck with the visuals, these are great. I think the emotional undercurrents of your words in this instance touch me more than the actual colours.

    Loved this post. I can see I have some catching up to do hmm?

  8. @Isle :) Thanks!

    Yeah, even with the summer sun calling me into the backyard, I’ve still found time to put up a post or two.

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