Commentary by Bill Buchanan
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the incessant demands of cell phones, internet messages and the myriad other demands of the modern world that max out our stress levels.
Well, I found the cure. Ava and I recently spent a long weekend in the “Cowboy Cabin” at Bodee’s Rancho Grande in the beautiful Rose Valley. It was just what the doctor ordered. I don’t know if Bodee’s owner Michele Cromer-Bentivilio instructed the ranch’s caretakers, Ken and Ruby Mellinger and their daughter, Hannah, to pamper us, but they sure did.
There is no cell phone service at the cabin, so there were no annoying tri-tone signals demanding attention. The cabin does have internet service, but I pretended there wasn’t – at least most of the time. I checked my e-mail only twice that weekend, which may be a personal record for me.
Instead of being glued to the computer or television, we found other pursuits. We read a lot. We took the short walk to Lake Michael, (named for Michele’s son), past Matty’s Creek (named after her other son, Matthew). Ava cooked in our cozy kitchen, and we dined by candlelight at our own private table for two.
On Saturday, we boarded the hay wagon and went out among the ranch’s docile herd. As Ken forked hay to the cattle, we sipped wine and shelled peanuts as a beautiful, nearly full moon rose over the valley. It put me in mind of feeding the cattle with my Daddy on our small farm in Alabama when I was a little boy. When I was a kid, I used to love to go out and walk the fields with Daddy while he fed the cattle. He would call them and talk to them, and he would sometimes lift me up on the back of one of those gentle giants for a short ride, all the while holding on tight to me.
In the truck bed, ahead of the hay wagon, were the Mellinger’s two dogs; a beautiful golden retriever named Nicky, and Bandit, their intrepid Queensland heeler. When the truck stopped for Ken to distribute the hay, they were immediately on the job. Bandit diligently surveying the herd; and Nicky acting more like a headwaiter – weaving among the cattle to make sure that each was enjoying the feast. I have never considered myself much of a farm boy, but I can’t remember a nicer evening in a very long time.
On the next evening, we enjoyed a glass of wine as we watched the full moon rising over the mountains surrounding the beautiful Rose Valley. We looked up at the stars and the vapor trails of jets far above and far away, while enjoying the beautiful quiet, interrupted only by the occasional barking dog, or the clucking of a chicken, settling down to roost for the night.
In fact, the only time the quiet was really disturbed was Saturday afternoon, when I came down the mountain to make a run to the grocery store. I encountered four Ferraris tearing down the road behind me. I pulled over to let three of them pass, one guy tooting his horn in appreciation. But there was one idiot who blew around me on a blind curve, endangering both of us, not to mention anyone who could have been coming the other way. I thought about asking Michael Shapiro to consider renaming his coalition “Ojai Stop the Trucks and Ferraris!,” but that does not exactly roll right off the tongue.
I want to thank Michele, Ken, Ruby, and Hanna for the wonderful weekend. I can’t wait to go back.