In October, a woman named V. joined Hartwood Grove. She lives on the Puget Sound, which is a multi-hour drive from Eugene. Needless to say, she does not come to every single circle, but she does attend most Sabbats and is pretty good about coming to at least one circle a month.
The minute I met her, I knew she was a person I wanted to get to know better…but it is a little hard when you can only see someone so infrequently. This past weekend, though, V. invited me to her new home. Initially, the incredibly generous invitation was that V. would cover my round trip, feed me, put me up at her place, and treat me to a day spa in exchange for serving as a “living practice dummy” in the training of one of her Reiki 3° students. As it evolved, though, I ended up becoming a Reiki 1° student along with V.’s girlfriend as V’s student taught us as well as learned herself.
But that ended up being a fairly small component of an AWESOME, jam-packed weekend.
Funnily enough, one of the highlights was the transit itself. Bus and train-fare to Washington ended up being almost the same, with the train a few dollars less…so I took the train for the first time since I was 5! It was so cool! While it was much slower than it would have been to simply drive, it was way more enjoyable. There was tons of leg room, the fellow travelers were very considerate, you could get up and walk around if you needed, the restrooms were clean, and everything was a lot of fun! Even just staring out the window was an experience. The train track doesn’t follow the same path as the interstate, so I really got an education as to what Oregon and Washington landscape and small towns are like!
Another major highlight, though, was visiting a place called RCR. V. had mentioned it a couple of times in the past, saying that it was one of her favorite places in the world, it had cocks the size of a full grown man, and had to be seen to be believed.
Of course, I thought it would be a super-kinky adult store.
It’s even better. RCR is a private home, but it also serves as the location of the owners’ gift shop and photography studio. But to simply say that does not, in any way, convey the wonder of this place. RCR is tucked away in the forest near the Sound, and you really have to know where you’re going in order to find it…so by the time you get there, you already feel as though you’ve stepped into a magical place far away from the rest of their world.
And “magical place” might just be the best way to describe RCR. Well outside city limits, the owners could pretty much do whatever they wanted, and RCR is the result of several decades of eclectic construction projects and creative dreamings. The house/studio/store is basically the type of house you would have given all your Christmases to live in when you were a small child. The owners did all the construction themselves, and mostly used odds and ends of recycled and reclaimed materials, so each room is a wonder unto itself. Better yet, there are secret passages, turrets, lookout points, and all manner of everything that is epically cool.
This is also not a picture I took, but it is a great depiction of the RCR rope bridge…which I totally conquered in one try. Trust me, I surprised myself. You’re a good 5-6 feet up in the air, and the bridge goes on for way longer than you’d think is safe. I totally thought I was going to die in the middle stretch, everything wiggles around so much.
The house is really, though, only the centerpiece of an equally amazing piece of property. Everywhere, the owners have carved out different special places, and the whole net effect is like a playground for grownups. Near the house is a very cool plot of garden space where just about every neat idea you’d ever read in Mother Earth News is being put to use. They have a playground carousel in the back yard, a look out tower, a rope bridge (which I totally conquered in one try, much to V.’s amazement…and mine, if I’m to be honest), and a tire swing to end all tire swings. I’m not joking. The tie point has got to be 20-25 feet up in a tree, so you’ve got a huge swing path. You drag the tire up to a tree stump, jump on, and arch out waaaaaay over a cliff! It’s completely exhilarating! So, as you can see, a large part of RCR really is a playground for grownups!
It also has a serious side, of course. There are all sorts of reflection groves, little spring-fed ponds, fairy paths, and all manner of places for (fun) contemplation. I’m itching to go back and explore some more!
The owners, being the generous souls that they are, open up their home for an open house every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 pm, and they enthusiastically encourage all their friends and acquaintances to bring their own special friends and family…and everyone does! V. and I were the first to show up, but by the time we left, the shop was full of people who had dropped by to chat, hang out, and have a bowl of soup and some homemade root beer! The owners had set a few of us up stringing beads to add to some (incredibly eclectic!) birdhouses that would be raffled off that afternoon, and then ushered us into making encouragement cards for a friend who’d been recently diagnosed with cancer. To be honest, the whole thing kind of reminded me of what the salons of older days must have been like.
I’m pretty sure that V. must have learned her brand of generosity straight from the RCR proprietors. Not only was she gracious enough to pay my way up to Washington, put me up in her home, and take me to a spa (all of which brings tears to my eyes because I’m completely broke and wouldn’t have been able to do so on my own), but she wouldn’t let me do a lick of work! I was forbidden from even washing a dish! (I sneaked a few when no one was looking!) When we went out to eat towards the end of the weekend, V. wouldn’t even let me get the check! And she was so nice about everything, I couldn’t help but half fall in love with her.
For all the amazing experiences I had this weekend, though (RCR, learning Reiki, lazing about in a Korean spa, going to an adult store with a bunch of giggling women, gorging on sushi…you know, basically every awesome thing ever), I think I enjoyed just hanging out with V. and her friends the most!
I knew that V. and I had a good bit in common before this: we’re about the same age, have similar senses of humor, and really enjoy cooking and some really off-the-wall crafts like pysanky. But I didn’t realize just how similar we are. I think V.’s more of an extrovert than I am, is probably more likely to delve deeper into tangential lines of interest than I am…but aside from those nuances, I basically feel like I’ve found a long-lost twin sister.
I’m so glad to have found her, been brought into her wonderful world, and made a part of her life. I really hope that someday soon I can repay the fantastic kindness she’s shown me this past weekend. Really, I feel happier now than I have in ages, and I’m so thankful for all of it.