I’ve been on a Pop Culture roll recently what with all the Michael Jackson hoopla. And I’ve got a tribute to another, more unlikely icon lined up, but I thought I’d get myself back to Sonoma for this post. Since that’s actually where I’ve been for most of the week. Ripening fruit, a broken truck and a leaking water pipe to the main irrigation system have all conspired to keep me hanging around here instead of in San Francisco. Which is fine, as it’s beautiful, hot and sunny. There are worse changes of plan. Except for a very strange incident that happened a few days ago and that I still can’t get out of my mind.

We were driving past one of the prettier intersections in Sonoma, the convergence of two tree-shaded, vineyard-lined country roads, each leading to some of the more famous wineries in these parts. Suddenly the passenger door of the car in front of us flew open and a woman shot out and landed in a crying heap on the road. I’d caught a quick glimpse of the foot of the man who kicked her out, one of two who had been sharing the front seat with her. The two men pulled the car up about 20 yards ahead and watched menacingly as I got out of our car and ran to see if the woman was all right.

She was quietly hysterical and, at first wouldn’t talk to me when I asked her if she needed help, if she wanted me to drive her to a hospital or if there was anywhere I could take her. To my repeated question, “Are you badly hurt?”, she finally replied, “Well, this is not the first time this has happened.”

I asked if I could take her home and she answered, “I can’t go home, my mother kicked me out.” I asked if there was a friend I could take her to and told her she should, under no circumstances, get back in the car with the two men who were still parked and glowering at us from up ahead.

“My problem,” she said, “is I’ve lived in Sonoma all my life. Twenty six years.”

From looking at her, I would have said she was closer to Forty. The ropey thinness, the bulging veins and the hospital ID bracelet perhaps indicated some sort of drug problem or recent detox stay somewhere.

She got up, dusted herself off, offered her hand and introduced herself. I introduced myself, and again begged her to let me take her somewhere safe. She pulled out a set of keys and said they were to her storage shed where she had her “stuff”. Then she walked off down the road. By this time, the menacing young men had taken off, hopefully not to return.

I’m not naive enough to think that, for everyone here, Sonoma is the paradise I’ve found it to be. But it was unsettling to come up against a “parallel Sonoma” quite so closely. I’m also not sure what this encounter means, or if, indeed, it means anything. The late great Quentin Crisp, in his role as movie critic, asserted that “movies must always follow an interconnected logic. Life is under no obligation to do so.” This must be one of those moments.

I can only hope that girl was momentarily embarrassed by my presence and she does, in fact, have a safe place to go to.

Whew! Heavy. I’d better leave you with some flowers from the Insectarium, which long-time readers of this blog will know to be thick plantings of native flowers that attract the natural pest control efforts of our best insects and birds.

If only it were as easy to repel other predators — including those men in the car and whatever demons are plaguing that poor girl — with large plantings of flowers.

Part of the Insectarium.

Part of the Insectarium.

Bee coming in for a landing.

Bee coming in for a landing.

These flowers are almost done.

These flowers are almost done.

But the lavender has just started its riotous bloom

But the lavender has just started its riotous bloom

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