Several years ago—back when I lived in Michigan, Ben was just my pal and California wasn’t even a speck in my dreams—I learned about a hidden oasis on the Pacific called The Sea Ranch by way of photographer Brian Ferry’s blog. The place looked wild, peaceful and breathtakingly gorgeous. And the recommendation stuck. Ben and I have talked about going ever since we moved to the Bay Area over a year and a half (!) ago. I’ve been busy with a new role at Good Eggs, and we have a host of visitors coming and going this spring. It seemed the perfect moment to get away—to breathe fresh ocean air and require nothing of ourselves. And so, the last full weekend in February, we skipped town and made our way up the coast, through Bodega Bay, past a thousand stunning vistas, to the northern edge of the Sonoma Coast.
The Sea Ranch is a tiny community, spanning ten miles of the coast but reaching just one mile inland. Those who founded it were committed to the principle of living lightly on the land and built homes with distinctive architecture that blends seamlessly into the surroundings. It’s a place where people have done their best to care well for the earth, keeping it in its gloriously wild state. Aside from the natural-hued homes, miles of trails, plenty of wildlife and a stunning coast, there’s not much: a bakery, a beautiful little non-denominational chapel, a lodge with a restaurant, a winery tucked between the Redwoods on the hills. We walked, drank wine while the sun set, ate well and admired our surroundings—little else.
Our room boasted windows that looked out on the water, and at night, we cracked them open and listened to the crashing waves while the sun slipped down from the clear sky, through a ridge of clouds and into the ocean. A group of mule deer wandered toward our window, and dusk slowly gave way to night. When we went outside, the sky was full of stars, and I felt blessedly small.
We sat by the same window in the morning. While Ben showered, I clutched my coffee and read Nigel Slater’s Notes from the Larder, watching the fog creep ever closer toward the shore, the sunny morning turned to gray. I was reading through his February entries and, serendipitously, stumbled upon this:
I have always loved the color gray. Peaceful, elegant, understated; the color of stone, steel, and soft, nurturing rain. The view from the window across the harbor has every shade, from driftwood to charcoal: the lagoon, the restaurant’s weathered cedar cladding, the moored boats, the trees on the opposite shore, all in delicate shades of calming gray.
The weather that weekend was perfect for our mood, precisely what I needed: one day full of sunshine and brilliant blue sky, then next foggy and mysterious, gray like the wood panels of the houses. We walked, that gray day, for miles and miles along the coast, watching birds swoop and seals laze the day away on rocks not far from shore. I don’t know that I’ve always loved the color gray, but that weekend, I absolutely did. I think I’ve been converted.
I don’t have a recipe today, just this. I hope it calms your spirit as it does mine.