It's a Miracle I Didn't Melt
July 29, 2009

Lone Lotus

More than once, after a few days of my hair driving me bonkers, I've threatened to shave my head. Of course I've never made good on that threat, but a couple of days ago, if you had handed me a pair of clippers, I would have taken them to my head without a second thought.

We spent most of Monday and part of Tuesday at Tassajara, a zen retreat center in Carmel Valley. We have friends that go every year (for a short vacation and for the food), and we decided to join them. I had heard a little bit about the center and after reading through the reservation confirmation e-mail about what to bring, I thought I was prepared. I knew there was no electricity or cell phone signals, I knew there were bathrooms but no showers in the rooms, I knew to bring a sweater because it might get cold in the evening, and I knew there was a swimming pool and hot springs. I did not know, however, that it would be as hot as the surface of the sun.

For some reason, possibly because I've never been to the Carmel Valley (Carmel, yes. Carmel Valley, no.), I was picturing big shady redwood trees, lush green ferns, and comfortably cool weather. I could not have been MORE wrong. The reality is that it's very hot. So hot that my eyelids were sweating. There are definitely trees which provide an ample amount of shade, and there were lots of other plants and some nice grassy areas. The center itself is a collection of buildings separated by pathways and bridges, a creek running behind everything, and plenty of chairs and benches where you can sit and read. Were it not for the shocking high temperature, I would have to say it was downright lovely.

And the food? It really is exceptional. Tassajara is apparently well known for their bread, but everything we ate was delicious. Our goal was to have at least three meals while we were there. We arrived in time for lunch on Monday, survived the blazing heat until dinner (which was when it finally started to cool off a little), managed to sleep through the night, and then had a lovely breakfast before we headed back over the mountain towards the foggy coast.

Oh! So the hair thing. A few of the people working and studying at Tassajara have shaved heads, which doesn't have anything to do with keeping cool, it's a Buddhist thing. But after walking around in that heat and not really being able to do anything with my hair to get it of my neck and face, I was envious of those with much less hair on their heads than myself. I was contemplating asking if they had a set of hair clippers anywhere, because I was ready to rid my head of hair IMMEDIATELY. If I hadn't been able to manage some tiny pathetic pigtails, I seriously might not have any hair right now.

I was even still considering it when I got home. It would be so much easier! No hair products, hair dryers or straightening irons! After some time in front of the bathroom mirror, I decided now probably wasn't a good time, figuring I would probably regret it (especially with a wedding in my future) and I'd rather not have my hairstylist kill me the next time I go in. However, if I shaved my head, I wouldn't need to go to the stylist...

Still, I don't think I can do it. Not quite yet, anyways...



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© Whitney Brandt-Hiatt: All writing, images, and photogrpahy are the property of Whitney Brandt-Hiatt unless otherwise noted.