Equitable Barter

It’s a joy to see, in the actions of another, altruistic love. Especially when that love is directed toward you. It has a way of building upon itself, creating a foundation ever strengthening. If both parties are aware of the transaction it can amplify the reward too! I had this experience recently. Now that I think about it, it was multiple times in the same day.


Monique and I are making our way towards Santa Cruz, traveling south on the coastal highway towards a potential job. There’s a boat load of estimating that accompanies any form of construction or remodeling work and that’s what we are on are way to accomplish. We decided, since we had a couple days without work and couldn’t find anything small to fit into the availability slot, to go ahead and head towards the estimate a few days early. This would allow us to take our time and have a nice little weekend experience. Turned out to be a most rewarding choice.


As we traveled the coast we stopped at a couple beaches to allow Lyla some play time and us a little time to stretch our legs. We aren’t fans of “marathon driving” and find, for us, it’s rather taxing. Instead we chose to take a little longer and enjoy the surroundings we travel through. We stopped at a cliff side parking lot, i.e., a rut and pothole infested dirtch patch roughly two hundred feet long and fifty feet wide.

At first glance I couldn’t see the appeal. The view isn’t very nice and I don’t see any way down that doesn’t live on an angle less than forty five degrees. After about fifty feet of walking between waist high brush a wonderful view opens up and I see the way down. I’ve been here before. It’s a concoction of climbing rope intertwined around a large drainage pipe with hand holds every ten feet. I also notice that I could throw this cobra, it’s lylas frisbee, and have a chance it will stay out of the surf, but it also might go to far and be swallowed by the simple looking waves. I weigh the options and consider them worth it. With that I throw the frisbee and watch Monique look in disbelief. We are at an elevated position so it looks like it flys for a rather long distance. The disc itself flies in perfect form, standing up and then fading with a decent glide at the end, but landed at the surfs edge. I can’t let the ocean eat Lylas disc so I grab the top of the rope in my hand and take two steps down, quickly realizing that although fashionable, sandals aren’t the best footwear for climbing. I couldn’t go back and change shoes, but I must fulfill a quest. I push through the obstacle in egos fashion and run down the final twenty feet of pitch to the sands edge. I retrieve Lylas frisbee just in time too. For the next forty minutes we walk the beach throwing the frisbee for Lyla. Enjoying our time together with each stride. As we did this Monique suggested we stop and see a friend of hers in Pescadero.


After returning to the van and heading south again we find ourself arriving at Pescadero beach around five in the evening. It’ll be dark soon and we both agree, waiting until the following day would be a better time to make an introduction with Monique’s friend, Sapphire. We opt to make a zucchini and grilled strip steak salad as a main dish with an accompaniment of Lebanese lemon parsley bean salad. We work in unison, chopping vegetables, herbs, and beef to eliminate the prep work in a flash. As I cook up the steak Monique is mixing the salad and in no time we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. As I savor the unique flavors of a zucchini strip salad I notice the vibrancy of the sky. I’m witnessing a sunset that intensifies with every beat of the wind. I stare, meditatively at this magic, then glance over at the angel on my left. No, I’m not talking of Lyla either. My heart leaps with anticipated excitement at this opportunity. I am thankful to be sharing this moment with one who loves me for me; in all my fallible glory. I continue gazing until she looks at me with sparkling hues of sky. Smiling, she simply says I love you and pulls me within her wings. I relish in the warmth of a loves touch.


We wrap up dinner and work together to eliminate the dishes. As we are doing this I note to Monique that the sun is down and the park is now closed. For those of you who have not traveled I shall let you in on a secret. Park officers are some of the nicest people I have met; however, they do not allow you to stay past park hours or sleep overnight in their parking lots. They aren’t unfriendly about it and most the time provide alternate avenues to help solve your dilemma, e.g., providing information where you may park, overnight, without a fee or being woken by a uniformed officer. If you’re unsure or made a mistake regarding regulations they usually inform you of the error and explain how it was made. I have yet to meet a ranger of unfriendly character. Tonight was no different.


Shortly after sunset a white SUV parks behind us, turns on the flashing strobes, and asks how we are doing. We inform him we are aware the park has closed and will be removing ourselves as soon as we complete our dishes. I notice he glances at the pot I’m drying in my hand and then the skillet Monique is washing, politely replying “Have a nice evening”. He then moves to the vehicle beside us and wakes the occupant. They have a short conversation, and seeming satisfied, the officer leaves. Shortly thereafter, the individual he awoke leaves as well. Don’t fret, Monique and I were to follow his lead five minutes later. We drive one hundred feet away from the parking lot to the other side of the street, literally, and park for the night. Here we are allowed to overnight. I spend the rest of the evening listening to Monique play the banjo until I retire for the evening.


As I awake the following day I notice the sun hasn’t began it’s transitionary migration across the baby blue ceiling. There is light on the horizon, but the sky has yet to show it’s iridescent awakening. Monique and Lyla are both still dreaming of whatever they may be dreaming of so I decide a walk with seagulls sounds rewarding. I walk across the street and arrive at the coastline in two minutes. Maybe even less. I notice the tide is receding, but only recently. I decide to walk North as the route south is impassible. I absorb the salty sound of nature’s touch and chant a mantra: nam myoho renge kyo. This form of meditation lasts for around fifteen minutes before I have to regain control of my thoughts. Sometimes, even when meditating, I can’t always control my thoughts. It’s something I’m continuously working to improve. After a short time more I conclude my session and rest, peacefully gazing at the ocean and listening to its siren song. Before I realize the sun has shone itself and I can feel it kissing the back of my neck. I acknowledge the gentleness, ever thankful it lives. I should return to see if Monique is awake and I can start breakfast.



When I return I find Lyla eager to make her exit of the van. Monique is still buried under the sleeping bag, but awakening. I kiss her good morning, thankful for having her to share such a beautiful journey with, and inform her I will go ahead and take Lyla for a jaunt. I grab Lylas frisbee and make my return to the beach. I provide a mixture of playful wrestling, frisbee throwing, and frisbee rolling. Yes, you can roll a frisbee. After almost an hour I return to the van to find Coffee and breakfast bagels. Woo Hoo! That’s a nice reward for enjoying the companionship of a K9 friend.


We each spend the remainder of the morning, and shortly into the afternoon, enjoying the our personal pleasures and the sea. I practice Irish Washerwoman on the ukulele, enjoying the distinct challenge to my coordination. I also practiced my photography skills. No, I don’t have a fancy DSLR, but I do have my cell phone. I am unable to change settings, but it does the job and allows me to focus on my rule of thirds and angles. Monique used this time to color in one of her drawings, a mandala she drew the previous days. She also listened to an audio book. If I recall correctly it was a recommendation I provided: Lewis and Clark: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. I found it rewarding and I hope Monique will too. When I next look at the time I notice it is one in the afternoon. I inquire if contact with Sapphire was still sought; being a yes we pack up and head that way.


We make the short drive of 5-10 Minutes to outskirts of Pescadero. We turn down a small, pothole covered road and drive roughly a quarter of mile before arriving at a small farm. We park the van along the road. The drive beyond the fence is littered with ruts and gouges that I don’t believe the van can handle. I notice there are two gentlemen in the field working as the sprinkler system provides a much needed drink to natures lunch box. Assuming one must be Sapphire I ask Monique if he is the one with the hat. She informs me it is difficult to discern from the distance we are at. We will simply have to let ourselves in and discover first hand. The logical idea sounded reasonable enough to pursue so, opening the gate and closing it behind us, we make our entry.


As we walk toward the hatted gentleman a white and black dog appears, wagging its tail with the speed that would impress an aircraft pilot. Lyla instantly shares in the excitement and displays her own drum beat. Within seconds they are acting like two lifelong friends who haven’t seen each other for years. They will spend the next few hours reconnecting and catching up. Monique lets me know the dogs name is Olive and belongs to Sapphire. We walk 100 feet further and Monique says hello, with a smile and sparkle, to her friend. He smiles with altruistic love, sharing his sparkle as she does, and welcomes her openly. I watch all this unfold while feeling fortunate. Fortunate I’m able to see the reality of what transpires within the unsaid, fortunate I am able to be a part of the experience, fortunate that Monique has such good friendship in her life, and fortunate I may build the same. After a quick introduction we ask if we may purchase some produce while we are here, or work for it; this is my prefered method as it will all me to become acquainted with Sapphire. A bonus being I can learn a good deal about organic farming, soil conditions, weather cycles, and insect prevention to give some examples. We’re in luck. Sapphire refuses our money, but does allow us to help him on the farm.


Sapphire says he doesn’t have much to do, but we can help him unload his van and then pick out the produce we desire. Being from a farming community in rural ohio I know all to well a farmer hasn’t completed his day until the sun is no longer visible, unless it’s harvest or planting season when they work many hours after and before sunset. My mind refuses to accept the unloading of the van, consisting of few items, as equitable for both parties. I also know Monique isn’t going to find contentment in Sapphires current definition of sufficient. So we do what anyone with logical, common sense would do. We continued to negotiate until we reached an accord requiring us to unload the van, help harvest some produce for the market he is attending tomorrow, and enjoy the beauty that is altruism.


As the three of us walk towards the row of red cabbage we will be cutting I can’t help but feel nostalgic. I’m holding a sickle, cutting market ready cabbage with a hand held tool, and sharing sparkling conversation with two beautiful Beings; bargained and accepted by all parties. Sapphire, Monique, and I spend the next three hours sharing the tales of our memories, discovering the philosophy of another, and passing around knowledge and wisdom where we can. Sapphires enormous generosity, which he promotes through his actions, is inspirational and deserves no less than emulation. By the time we finish up it’s approaching evening. We need to get going and Sapphire has already been scheduled for the remainder of the night. Someone, in my opinion, was a lucky and fortunate recipient. With our pockets full, procured through barter, we bid our goodbye.


The following morning Monique and I awake within minutes of each other. I offer to cook Breakfast and provide coffee if she would like to give Lyla some attention. She has accepted before I finished the offer and was scampering across nature’s playground before I could retrieve the stove. With that settled I got to work and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors. It was getting close to lunch and we had an estimate to be at in about an hour so we decided to head that way. Before we departed Monique, ever worrying if I have eaten enough, asks what I have to snack on for the ride. I replied that I had just ate breakfast and would be fine. I just needed to use the facilities before we left.


When I returned from the bathroom break I got in the wagon and began the journey south. As I’m driving I notice something is making a crunching noise. I’m slightly confused as to what it could be because I had just rearranged the wagon and knew there was no trash or paper any place; upon further inspection I found the culprit. It was a bag of blue corn flour tortilla chips that Monique placed in the passenger seat while I was using the restroom. I smiled all the while eating them, knowing she loves me true. The reward of seeing, understanding, and receiving altruistic love is a welcomed reward. By the time I finish the bag we are moments away from arriving at our estimate. I wash down the chips with a swig of water as we pull in the driveway.


Wish us luck, friends!


“You have done something that will inspire the youth of our continent” Nelson Mandela, (Madiba)

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