Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

The last 5 days I’ve been relishing the summer at Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre in the Ventana Wilderness west of Big Sur. We’ve been coming here every summer for 12 years and it always feels like a second home when we arrive. I don’t know of another place like it on earth.

It’s was the first Zen monastery outside of Japan when it was established in the late 60’s and it has a deeply peaceful ambiance after 40 years of mindful care and meditative practice.

I led a bridge building project here several year ago with students from CCA and the extraordinary British designer Richard LaTrobe Bateman. We produced a dense little catalog of the project which is available here.

Next to the bridge, my favorite project at Tassajara is this suite of sculpted seating nestled in a grove of ancient plane trees. They were created by one of Bayarea’s most interesting, and unsung sculptors, the late J.B. Blunk.

Moment #10 – The Fish

The fish seemed huge as the crowd gathered to admire the catch in the wind whipped grey light following the afternoon storm. He was so small that when his father told him to take the fish he’d caught he could hardly lift it’s snout out of the sand as he carried it proudly across the beach back to their house. The men from other houses jokingly yelled ‘Hey! That’s mine!!’. He just smiled and kept dragging the fish across the sand.

Moment #8 – Mescal

We found this wonderful little Mescalier just off the plaza de Santo Domingo. Called ‘Los Amantes’, the interior was designed by the local artist Guillermo Orgin. It’s like a little cabinet of curiosities.

Los Amantes serves only locally produced artisinal Mescals – made in the traditional mode in small batches by individual mescaleros. You can taste a huge variety served from large glass jugs. And purchase whatever pleases you which is then decanted and sealed in beautiful locally produced bottles.

They have a ‘branch’ in the east village in New York. Part of a growing movement to bring artisinal mescal to the US.

El Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca

The Botanical Gardens adjoining the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. We looked down on it from the Museum yesterday but I wanted to get closer to all of the agaves, euphorbias, figs, frangipanis, palms and other succulents.

Nobody can enter the garden unless you are a tour. So it feels like you have the place to yourself!

Sensitive plantings of hundreds of species of use to the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca city

Wandered Oaxaca city today savoring the contrasts between stone, clay, plaster and pigment.