Posts Tagged ‘biodynamic gardening’

Actor, Photographer, Apple Farmer And 1960s Activist Nicholas King’s Memorial

July 25th, 2012

Not His Talented Acting Or Photography, But His Saving Of A Group Of Randomly Shaped Spires Made Of Rebar And His Cultivation Of Apple Trees Will Make History

Redwoods, Rocks, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast Near Elk And Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

This Blog Post Is In Honor Of My Uncle Nicholas King And Will Partially Introduce My Family, Mainly On My Mother Ardis King Hyde’s Side…

Robert Nicholas King, who passed on April 3, 2012 at age 79, helped protect the Watts Towers. To read more see the Los Angeles Times Article on how Nicholas King helped save the Watts Towers of Los Angeles and allowed the unusual sculpture to become world-renowned.

Eureka Hill Road, Redwoods, Garcia River Canyon, Near “The Land,” Point Arena, California, 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Nicholas King was my mother’s middle brother out of three, all younger than her. His first name was Robert, but when he started working in Hollywood and off Broadway, because there was another actor named Robert King, he dropped his first name and went by his middle name Nicholas or Nick for the rest of his life.

When he died of complications from dementia, Nicholas King had lived in a nursing home in

Point Arena Movie Theater With Marquee Showing Nicholas King Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Santa Rosa for three years. After he passed away his sons, Silas and Julian, my youngest cousins, and their older sister Sarah and brother Sam, just a few years younger than me, planned a memorial for their father appropriately enough in the movie theater in their hometown, Point Arena, California on the Mendocino Coast. For more biographical information, see the

Film Projector, Lobby, Point Arena Movie Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Wikipedia entry on Nicholas King.

Nicholas King came to Point Arena in a round about way, having left Hollywood for the 1960s hippie scene in San Francisco and in turn having dropped out of the hippie scene in San Francisco to move to “The Land,” a community land cooperative near Point Arena rich in Redwood forests and fertile bottom land along the Garcia River. Nick was glad to get away, to drop out, as they said in the

Sarah King Bjorg, Nicholas King (Photo) And Sam Rodia King, Lobby of Point Arena Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

1960s. His departure from Hollywood occurred not long after he had tried out for a lead role in a film and landed the part. However, due to life complications, he was not able to accept the role. The actor who did take the part became a star largely on the acclaim he received from playing that character. I don’t think my Uncle Nick ever completely recovered from that missed opportunity. He had great confidence, poise and will his entire life, but his smooth surface was also ruffled deep underneath

Ben King (Van King’s Son), Kate Todd (Nick’s First Wife), Van King (Nick’s Brother), Johanna King Hoite (Van’s Daughter) And Vigo Hoite (Johanna’s Oldest Son) At Nick King’s Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

by a subtle self-punishment that came up in unusual ways. In some respects he was one of the most optimistic people I have ever known, yet he also could get down on himself and circumstances and on some occasions felt that people were out to get him.

The Land was a paradise both won and lost, with an idyllic plan of sharing land between 10 families who were close friends, but whose relationships went on the rocks at times, finally culminating in a deep support and

Potluck Spread, Silas King (Back Turned), Julian King (Nick’s Youngest Sons), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

love of each other and their film and TV actor representative turned sustainable logger, apple farmer and apple nursery and tree cultivator, as he faded into the confusion that took over his brain in his final years. When it was all over for Uncle Nick, nearly the entire Point Arena community and many from all over the Mendocino Coast down to San Francisco and even Los Angeles and beyond to his niece, Gwenn King, as far away as Wisconsin, all packed the Point Arena Movie Theater to celebrate and mourn the life of a

Nick’s Three Sons, Julian, Sam And Silas, Motion Blur, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

local innovator, artist, lover, horticulturist, gardener, farmer and family man, who charmed his way through life and into the hearts of those he turned his good looks and joyful, wise and impish smile upon.

Point Arena is the second farthest west point of land in California; the farthest west point lying not far north at Cape Mendocino. To reach Point Arena, you either drive up a curvy Highway One along the Sonoma Coast through

Charla & Clint King (Nick’s Brother) With Silas King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Gualala from Jenner and Santa Rosa, over the mountain from Booneville and Ukiah or down the Pacific Ocean Mendocino Coast from the town of Mendocino. To read more about my trip up the Sonoma Coast to Point Arena, see the blog post, “Northern California Beaches: Misty Sonoma Coast.”

As a young actor in Hollywood, Uncle Nick not only was a regular on TV shows and had small roles in several films, but he also loved to watch films. Over the years I

Nicholas King’s Home At The Land, Giant California Coast Redwoods, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

remember watching movies with him at the Point Arena Theater and other theaters, but also on VHS or DVD at his house on The Land or at Rough Rock with my parents. How fitting that my cousins planned his memorial in the Point Arena theater, where all 230 seats were taken and many mourners were standing, on both the main floor and the mezzanine. The service consisted of a slide show of still photographs of Nicholas King with his first wife, Kate, his second wife Jewls and

Old Barn, Nick’s House, Redwoods, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

his children, friends and other family. After the slide show, many of Nick’s friends stood up to talk about him. Afterward people munched on the potluck feast laid out on the tables, while a music DJ played Nick’s favorite songs, relatives gathered outside to catch up with each other’s lives and inside there was even a little dancing. I had not seen my cousin Johanna and her husband Simo for nearly two decades as they had lived and raised three children in Europe. Nick’s brother

Johanna King Hoite, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Van King, Johanna’s father, was there with his wife Linh, neither of whom have I seen much for the last 10 years. Van’s other daughter, his eldest, architect Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom had published a book this last year called, “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames for Living.” Just as Julian King, Nick’s youngest son, began to lead the cleanup inside the theater, the Point Arena based poet, teacher, classroom entertainer, author, visual artist, sculptor and wild dancer Blake More appeared on the scene in her hippie trippy poetry painted, moon, star and seashell festooned biodiesel mercedes. She wore her funkadelic outfit just for Nick.

There were many other highlights, including a few stories from Nicholas’ good friend Julius Palocz. One of Julius’ stories illustrated Nick’s indomitable, undefeatable character. Apparently Nick and Julius and another friend or two had planned to put a new gutter on Nick’s house. It was a wooden gutter and quite heavy. They had three ladders, none of

Simo Hoite (Johanna’s-Husband), Gwenn King Tanvas (Clint’s-Daughter), Sam King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

which reached high enough.

They climbed up on the ladders, lifted up the gutter and of course inevitably, the gutter fell and broke. Nick told those present not to worry. He said they would do this, fix that, nip that a bit, cut off that, bring in this and it would be better and stronger than ever. And it was. At one point one man, who had started an entire apple orchard from Nick’s apple trees, asked the crowd who had obtained an apple tree from Nick. About 85 percent of the crowd,

Nick’s Tool Shed, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

probably over 200 people, had trees from Nicholas King at the Garcia River Nursery. I had planned to talk, but they wrapped up the sharing portion before I stood up.

I had thought about what I would say if I had the opportunity. I reminisced about my uncle and all the good times we had with him as a group of cousins, as well as those I had with him alone. I had eight cousins in the first round and four more in the

Apple Trees, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

second marriage round. When the older cousins were coming of age, I remember the oldest sneaking off with Uncle Nick to hang out. They invited me into that group I believe once or twice, but mainly it was limited to those older than me. Uncle Nick was always the hippest uncle, the one that related the most to us kids, though we of course loved and enjoyed Van and Clint, the other two uncles and my mother, who my cousins called, “Antie Ardis.”

Nick’s Beehives, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I remember visiting The Land as a boy, swimming in the Garcia River at the swimming hole, running half naked through the fields and riding with Uncle Nick on his bulldozer. I remember watching him mill Redwood logs with his portable mill, splitting Redwood rounds for firewood, smelling the muddy earth smell of the heavy chunks of freshly split Redwood. We fished for Steelhead in the Garcia River too. I remember helping him work in his apple tree nursery. He used to give me a mild, easy-going lecture on grafting fruit trees, or varieties of apple stock, or apple blossoms, or other diverse farming or gardening subjects. In later years I would visit in my van. I brought food and wine and we drank and told stories at night. Uncle Nick and I took long walks on The Land in the mornings, walking along the Garcia River. We sat in the sauna by the Garcia River in the afternoons like old Indians.

One time Uncle Nick came to visit me at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. We went out walking, as we always did, as a thunderstorm threatened. We decided to hike up onto a nearby mesa where there

Dancing In The Projector Light, In Background: Sam King, Julian King and Hugh Todd (Kate’s Second Husband), copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

was an ancient Native American Pueblo burial ground. The burial ground was hard to find. Many times I had been up on that mesa and never seen it. To track it down we had to wander around through the pinion and juniper forests, looking for just the right opening in the trees. Suddenly the sky opened up and we were drenched in a torrential downpour, trying to take shelter among the trees as lightening and sheets of rain deluged upon us. As we sought shelter among the trees, we suddenly could make out the

Local Poet, Blake More, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

low rock walls and shapes of stones that marked the burial ground. That particular hike to the burial ground, neither of us ever forgot. Somehow between the rain, the drenched red earth, huddling under the trees being surrounded by flashes of lightening and the mysterious sacred ground before us, we bonded like I never have with any other human being before or since, except perhaps my father and mother and a girlfriend here or there.

One Christmas just before my mother died, Uncle Nick came to visit us at Rough Rock in the Northeastern Sierra Nevada. While the snows whistled outside, we sat indoors near the fireplace, put together a 1000 piece puzzle and talked. It was a good Christmas. The last time he visited Rough Rock, he and I sat up late one night outside in front of the house watching a large fire burn out the stump of the Hyde family’s favorite oak tree. Our favorite shade oak tree had to be taken out because its roots were clogging the septic tank. Uncle Nick and I talked

Blake More’s Biodiesel Mercedes, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

about roots. We talked about family issues: control and anger, after all we are an American family. Yet American families can share great love too. There has always been love, camaraderie, fun and kindness in the family. In the early days, everyone knew how to keep up a good smile, even when someone in the group was mad at someone else under the surface and everyone knew it. There was always some issue or another, but there was also a bond and a joy in togetherness,

Van King, Ben King, Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom (Van’s Oldest Daughter), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

especially among us cousins. We sat at a separate table from the adults, which was both the wisest and the dumbest arrangement possible. I remember one Thanksgiving dinner where we cousins had a contest at the kid’s table at my Grandmother’s house, to see who could make the wildest, messiest, mashed-potatoes-squeezed-between-teeth face. Nick’s daughter Sarah won.

Uncle Nick was often our inspiration, sometimes in a

Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom, Author Of “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames For Living,” Point Arena, California, copyright 2012, David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

rebellious way, but more often in a hip, fun way. He had a way of making anything interesting. His photography of people showed a deep sense of understanding. He also made some excellent historical documentary black and white photographs of Point Arena being nearly wiped out by a huge storm in the winter of 1983. A few of his friends and family brought together these images in a self-published book called, “The Great Disaster at Arena Cove.” Nicholas King’s legacy as an environmental activist in groups such as Friends of the Garcia River and Save Our Wild Salmon, as a farmer’s market seller, a community member and artistic thinker, lives on in his children and his nieces and nephews, all the next generation and their children too, in Point Arena and everywhere people knew him.

Many people celebrated his life in the Point Arena Theater that day, May 12, 2012. We took our time to think back and socialize as Nick’s friends and family all together one last time. Yet, after it was over, it felt good to move away from the crowd, to go back to The Land and sleep among the Redwoods, to awake with

Kim King (Ben King’s Wife) Watching Johanna’s, Caitlin’s And Her Own Children, The Next Generation, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

the dew and smell the sun on the apple blossoms, to drink in the cool morning air as it blew gently over the quiet meadows of The Land that was Nick’s home.

More on the Mendocino Coast, Mendocino and Fort Bragg to come in future blog posts…

Do you have an uncle or other relative with whom you have a special connection?

 

 

 

 

Charla, Clint, Simo, Vigo, Sam, Caitlin, Johanna And Others, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Julian King Throwing A Peace Sign, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fields On The Land Near the Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Swimming Hole, Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Irises, Nick’s Garden, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fog, Mist, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Living The Good Life 1: The Book and Background

October 11th, 2011

Living The Good Life, Part One

Reflections on the book that launched the 1950s Back to the Land movement, Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing, and how Ardis and Philip Hyde implemented the book’s philosophy…

Lower Lawn, Japanese Maples, Aspens, Raised Beds, Apple Orchard, Part of Gardens At Rough Rock, Spring, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by David Leland Hyde.

Living The Good Life With Ardis And Philip Hyde, Part One

By Nancy Presser and David Leland Hyde

The first day I met David Leland Hyde, he introduced me to the life and work of his late mother and father, Ardis and Philip Hyde. David explained his father’s life long dedication to wilderness conservation through landscape photography of the American West. David also shared how his father designed, drew the plans and built the family home.

Even though David was fighting off a mid-winter flu, he still took the time to lead me through the Hyde house and Philip Hyde’s photography studio. David said that his father built the place himself over two years beginning in 1957. Ardis Hyde helped in the evenings and taught kindergarten during the day. They acquired 18 acres and built what was originally a 1200 square foot home plus garage and studio, all on Ardis’ school teaching salary. Quite a feat I think even in the 1950s.

After I knew David better he shared with me that everything around us in the home, the flat roof, the solar hot water panels, the clerestory windows, the raised bed vegetable garden, the fruit trees and the whimsical stone lined pond and flower garden were all ideals of self reliance and low impact living that his parent’s adopted back in the 1950s. The foundation of the Hyde’s living philosophy came from the book Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. This Amazon link goes to the original version which is now out of print and only available used. The new version, The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living, contains the Nearing’s first book Living The Good Life and their second book Continuing The Good Life all in one volume for one low price. Recently, David happened to have his mom’s personal copy of Living The Good Life around and loaned it to me to read.

David is a voracious reader and has loaned or recommended many books to me to read in the time I have known him. However, intuition told me that reading this book was a priority. He first presented Living the Good Life to me in a way that made a lasting impression. He said:

In the 1990s I planted a garden at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. My mother gave me advice regularly and a local green thumb friend also taught me quite a few tricks to gardening in that area. For example, if you plant Marigolds around the perimeter of your vegetable garden it greatly decreases pesky bugs and slugs. As I delved back into gardening, I thought back on the vegetable gardens I had planted with my mother and on the gigantic 40X60 foot plantation that she tended in various years. I also realized that she was probably one of the foremost experts on gardening for butterflies in the Northern Sierra Nevada of California. At the same time some friends of mine had bought land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico and were building and farming. One day while visiting my parents in California, I interviewed my mother about vegetable gardening and gardening for butterflies. I recorded the interview, which turned out to be a delightful discourse between us and illustrated very well my mother’s deep knowledge and love of plants, insects and other aspects of pesticide-free gardening. I wish now that I had made dozens of tapes of her because she was an expert in canning, freezing, preserving, making her own soap, bread, cheese, butter, tofu and many other household items and foods. At the end of our session, she pulled me close and said very seriously, “David, here’s the basis of your mother and father’s philosophy and what we based our home lifestyle upon,” as she handed me her copy of Living The Good Life. She passed on not long afterwards. Ironically, I have only read the first few chapters. Living The Good Life has been on my list for a long time, ever since her passing in 2002. I regret that I did not get a chance to read it and discuss it while she was alive.

Because I now had a key into the insight of Ardis and Philip Hyde, I opened this crucial book to see how I could get to know the Hyde’s better and to learn more about growing a life close to the land. Being a city girl from Long Beach I never lived on the land and I wanted to learn how people did it. The closest I’ve ever come was when I helped create a cooperative organic garden outside San Diego, which we called the Edible Village. We cultivated structures out of plants. We made a dome from collected branches that became a bean and herb garden. We also built a corn maze for the kids and a labyrinth out of plants and rocks. Each participant picked out his or her own stone along the perimeter. We also had chickens and practiced biodynamic composting. I will share more about all of this in blog posts to come in this series. The introduction to Living The Good Life, written in the 1930s, and preface, written in the 1970s, are all about how crazy and chaotic the world was then. What struck me was that nothing has changed. Meanwhile, I have been working to simplify my own life over the last 10 years.

David noticed that I continued reading Living The Good Life more than most of the other books he had shown me. He asked me if I would like to write about my reflections as I read the book and how it relates to what I am discovering about the lifestyle of the Hydes. Helen and Scott Nearing, as well as Ardis and Philip Hyde in kind, had approaches to life that serve as examples that can guide us today toward living more happily and sustainably. What I find most fascinating about reading The Good Life now is that although the first publication of the book was in 1954 and the sixth printing was in 1971, we still have the same, if not worse, chaotic, degenerating society.

Helen and Scott Nearing wrote Living The Good Life after coming out of the Depression of the 1930s:

We had tried living in several cities, at home and abroad. In varying degrees we met the same obstacles to a simple, quiet life—complexity, tension, strain, artificiality, and heavy overhead costs. These costs were payable only in cash, which had to be earned under conditions imposed upon one by the city—for its benefit and advantage. Even if cash income had been of no concern to us, we were convinced that it was virtually impossible to counter city pressures and preserve physical health, mental balance and social sanity through long periods of city dwelling. After careful consideration we decided that we could live a saner, quieter, more worthwhile life in the country than in any urban or suburban center.

For further reading see also Helen Nearing’s latest book, Loving and Leaving the Good Life, written after Scott Nearing passed on at age 100. Here’s Wilda Williams’ Library Journal description:

This quiet and reserved memoir is a tribute to the “good life” and the ideals of self-sufficiency, simplicity, socialism, and pacifism that Helen and Scott Nearing shared for 53 years. Helen was 24 years old in 1928 when she met Scott, a married 45-year-old economics professor who had been blacklisted by universities and publishers for his radical views. In 1932, the Nearings left New York City for a Vermont farm, beginning the homesteading life described in their Living the Good Life (1954), the bible of the back-to-the-land movement. Later, they moved to Maine where, during the 1960s and 1970s, they played host to 2000 visitors a year. For Scott and Helen, old age was a “time of fulfillment. Scott kept his strength and bearing all through his last decades.” But as he neared his 100th birthday in 1983, he chose to leave the good life peacefully by fasting. Helen is a modest narrator, at times so self-effacing that she switches into third person as when she discusses her relationship with the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Still, her eloquent chapter on death and old age and her loving portrait of a remarkable man makes this a recommended purchase…

Both the Nearings and the Hydes managed to find and implement the Good Life. For a lively discussion on creating the Good Life on a larger scale through building a sustainable world and the issues related to it see the blog post, “Art, Earth And Ethics 1.”

How would you define The Good Life?

(Continued in the next blog post, “Living The Good Life 2.”)