A few years ago a pair of phoenixes landed in Quirkutopia’s coastal hills. They had flown here after an arsonist torched the box canyon that held their nest in South California, along with 59,448 acres in the 2003 Grand Prix fire. Along with the nest went years of paintings and sculptures crafted by Gretchen Butler and her husband. All but 20 of Gretchen’s paintings and one small carving were lost.
Bearing only smudged scraps, they rose from the ashes and flew to North California. Eventually landing in a sunny treesey place, they followed a time-honored tradition of many a Qurikuptopian rural-ite: they camped until they created a yurt that was in turn their home for a long long time until they built a House.
Gretchen has created a painting of words and art in a lively book called Wild Plum Café that ladles the stories and images of these years into one’s bowl in a delicious stew. Living virtually outdoors, dealing with the endless roto-tilling wild boars that plow our hills, the rattlesnakes that guard it and the beatific strangers that sometimes roam it – meet Bracken the Buddist! – she keeps a real sense of humor and casts a quirky eye to the journey. She steels herself to review the day of the fire and the things left and missed and not missed. Her intrepid husband also keeps a sense of humor, even as he puts creative effort to building the new nest and delivers her a truckload of compost as a romantic Valentine’s Day gift.
This is a completely off-the-grid nest , as are so many of our beloved Quirks. Their hillside neighbors join them in a loosely-crocheted community of off-gridders, many of them in the second half of life and most are fit and vigorous from country life. Meet them, too, at the Wild Plum Café in a work hung with art and laced with inspiration. Read your way into this painted story of two soon-to-be –geezers as they fly from fire to challenge, from loss to a life in nature. Get a copy before it hits the bookstores by emailing the author at : email@example.com See her paintings swirl off your screen at: http://www.gretchenbutler.com/ .