Dorland Mountain Arts Colony
...befriend an enchanted place
P.O. Box 6
Temecula, CA 92593
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|Dorland Rises from the Ashes|
by Julia Gibson, Dorland Board Member and former resident
After the fire, I felt sure that Dorland was over for me. I'd had three transformative residencies. The land and light were in my marrow. But how could a rebuilt Dorland be the enchanted place it had always been? I loved the splintered grey of Horton's recycled doors, and couldn't imagine working well in a brand-new cottage with windows that wouldn't require a jerryrigged clothesline apparatus to keep them open. So I wished all the best for the new Dorland, of course, but I didn't envision that I would ask Karen to put me on the list.
Recently I was honored to join Dorland's Board of Directors, and it was in that glad capacity that I spent a day at Dorland. Our first postfire event at the site was an afternoon gathering of potential supporters to show off the work done to date. I had been up the Dorland hill once since the fire, when hulks of charred trees gloomed the grove. Now there are few signs of the devastation. Karen, Robert, and Martha have been working tirelessly on reconstruction. The land has been cleared of debris. Some trees were lost, but the oaks are still a grove, and shade dapples Karen's office trailer and the studio space that Robert shares with his new wife Janice. The former narrow washboard road is now an impressive 30 feet wide, with drainage ditches and culverts. A 12,500-gallon tank provides water for hydrants and an irrigation system for the native plants that will prevent erosion on the fireravaged slopes.
I'd been told that foundations had been poured for two new cabins, but when I stood on the concrete slab where Horton's once stood, I was overcome with nostalgic exuberance. A large white tent had been put up on top of the slab for the event, so it was easy to imagine walls, windows, roof, a rocking chair on the porch. My friend Noelle Sickels and I were handed glasses of wine by Board members who had put together a beautiful feast. We toasted days and nights to come and reminisced about long quiet days at the work table, lamplight suppers, the hoots of owls, morning sun edging over the mountain.
It was a perfect Dorland afternoon. A string trio played, organized by violinist and Board president Curtis Horton. Robert's and Janice's paintings were out for all to admire. We ate paella in the tent as the mountains turned rosy. Dessert was served pondside by the cupola built by the Temecula Kiwanis. Noelle read to us from her book The Shopkeeper's Wife, which Dorland helped her finish. People left with a vision of the Dorland that is underway and willingness to help bring about the next phase.
Soon the slabs will disappear beneath floors and walls. A contractor has been hired to build the first two cabins. By spring there will be two rocking chairs on two porches, two work tables, two woodstoves. I'm dreaming of time on one of those porches, in one of the nunlike beds, mountains surrounding. Put me on the list, Karen. Please.
Standing on those slabs brought back to me all that was and will be Dorland. The practice of silence and solitude. The company of birds. The sacred unremitting oaks, staunch against fire, eager to send out new shoots from the ash.
Our success is dependent on your continued generosity. Our financial needs remain urgent! In spite of significant contributions, the tremendous costs of satisfying government requirements for rebuilding and fire safety have drained our resources to the near breaking point where even our shoestring budget is strained.