Thursday, April 14, 2011

Organic Farm Stay with Friends Delivers On Downtime

Driving down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway earlier this month from a long spring weekend getaway in Paso Robles, I noted to myself how insanely calm I felt.  The kind of feeling one would get, I imagine, after a good meditation session.

Generally speaking I handle stress pretty well.  As part of the management of my stress I exercise, have hobbies, enjoy good friends and try not to worry about the things I cannot change.  I wish I could say I've also mastered the art of meditation in the traditional sense of the word.  But I have not.  And it is not for the lack of trying.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health - Mayo Clinic
Silence my mind while trying to sit still?  Nope...no success; there's so many thoughts that creep into my mind space.  A yoga session of downward-facing dogs and eagle poses is calming...but peace of mind?  I'm too busy concentrating on not falling over!   Plant a bell pepper seedling in my vegetable patch, chop a gorgeous tomato or go in search a great Spanish cheese for my enchiladas?  Yes!  Nirvana!  I am calm, at peace and am in balance with nature and myself.

Apparently I've been in need of a super injection of calm, peace and balance given my notice of how I felt at the end of the trip.

Good friends of ours met up with my husband and I in Paso Robles.  The four of us had no agenda other than to stay at an organic farm, do a little wine tasting, eat good food and enjoy each other's company.  Before we ever made it inside our "Bungalow" accommodations, the gas BBQ at the front door usurped all of our attention.  Within moments of its sighting, the four of us determined we were going to make our own great dinner  one of our nights there.  Hence our agenda was set.

Fellow Farm Resident, a Jacob Sheep
All the gourmand choices lay before us in this fertile area.  The next morning over our farm prepared breakfast we learned from our hosts there was a Farmer's Market that very day.  They guided us to a sustainable Fish Market, for the star of our meal.  Of course, over 200 wineries to choose from for our accompanying beverage.  Along the way, we tripped upon an artisan's cheese store.  And lucky for us, our friend who is always anxious to try his Italian, charmed a fellow Italian baker for a sweet ending treat. 
View from Still Waters Vineyards

Speaking Italian
What a luxury to take the time to really appreciate our seasonal choices. In my usual day in and day out routine, I rarely can spend an entire day devoted to such endeavors. The meal turned out to be exquisite and well earned.  It required all of our senses to pull it off (the whif of wine, touching for the firmness of a tomato, the inspiring sight of the seasonal vegetables and our salmon, and the listening of the first crackle of our risotto frying in the pan).   The journey of the day was really where our memories will lie.

So why is it I experienced a so similar an outcome to meditation?  Traveling to a new environment puts ourselves in a novel situation.  Our brains have no choice but to think differently.   There is focus and heightened awareness of our surroundings.  No room for habitual ways of thinking.  And by traveling with friends or family,  making it to a destination together, there is a sense of camaraderie and accomplishment that forges deeper ties.

If you want to recreate some or all of our weekend, here's the links to our destinations:

Hollyhock Farms Bed & Breakfast
Templeton Farmer's Market
Pier 46 Seafood Market
Le Vigne Winery
Still Waters Vineyards  (spectacular views and of special note, fine olive oils)
Vivant Fine Cheeses
Artisan  (a lovely American Bistro if you want a night out on the town)


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