Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pastorale 1: Glamping with Doggies

During a trip to visit family and old friends on the Central California coast last weekend, my younger twin sisters Susan and Hilary above hosted a back country picnic in the Upper Oso campground of the National Forest behind Santa Barbara. Hilary, on the right, had just finished chemotherapy and breast cancer surgery with a genuinely inspirational mixture of humor and strength, and she still seemed to have more energy than most normal human beings.

My friend Jack Murray, an 82-year-old retired university professor of French Literature from UC Santa Barbara, once told me on or about my fiftieth birthday, "Oh, the 50's. What a difficult age, where you tend to bury your parents and either get cancer and die, or not."

The prognosis for my sister Hilary's survival is unexpectedly good after this recent ordeal, which means she will probably outlast her Great Pyrenees sheepdog Lopie above, a once-scary dog the size of a small horse and with the jaws of a shark who has turned into one of the great sweeties of the animal world.

The picnic was a rare peek into a strong, intimate women's group where the men, including husbands, sons, and brother, were no more important than the many beloved dogs who had also been invited, which was a good reminder of our respective importance in the order of the universe.

The picnic was something of a squatter's affair since we weren't paying the Park Service for overnight camping but nevertheless appropriated a beautiful site for the afternoon. At one point, a gay couple from Hollywood wearing Brokeback Mountain cowboy hats walked by with their dog. They stopped for a doggie sniffing and chat, where it was discovered they were staying in the spiffy miniature Airstream trailer that every woman in our group sighed over as they entered the campground. The couple kindly let everyone check out the interior of their Airstream and also posed for a photo which is an homage to David Gardner. As we left the campsite, Hilary said they were "glamping," a word hitherto unknown to me which translates as glamorous camping. Sign me up.


AphotoAday said...

Godspeed with Hilary's continued recovery.

Nancy Ewart said...

Add my prayer to Donald's about your sister's contined recovery. I loved this piece and your comment about the relative importance of men in a strong women's group. So few men either know or understand this - you are a rare guy who does. Anyway, charming piece and love that Airstream trailer. My grandfather had one which we used to all go camping in when he lived in Oregon. Wonderful times.