As of mid-June, most Covid-19 restrictions in California have been lifted, and life is returning to what we judiciously call “normal.” Revs. Phoebe and Seikai were both vaccinated during the spring, as California slowly moved to vaccinate people over, then under 65. We have resumed accommodating overnight guests at the temple on condition that they have been vaccinated. At this point, given the widespread availability of the vaccines and the inexcusability of not getting the shots, those who have not been vaccinated must wear a mask and stay outdoors when visiting the temple, and may not stay overnight. We intend to resume holding weekend retreats in September.
We celebrated the festival of Wesak (or Vesakha) on May 2, and had a substantial turnout of people that day. Last year, of course, we were unable to hold this most important of Buddhist festivals during the Covid-19 pandemic. This year the weather was fair and some of the participants brought flowers to make up for the total lack of wildflowers on the temple grounds following a winter of very little precipitation. We started with ringing the temple bell 108 times, followed by meditation and a Dharma talk by Rev. Phoebe. Then we processed to the Stupa, placing flowers around it and pouring water over the baby Buddha. We recited a Wesak hymn (or poem) written by Rev. Seikai in the recent past, and finally gathered for a bring-you-own-food lunch in the Sangha House patio. There was palpable joy that day in coming together to celebrate the life of the Buddha after so many months of having to remain apart.
After years of putting it off, we were able to hire workers to rebuild the super structure of our carport/firewood storage area, which is attached to the work shop. The roof has solar panels on it and we had not ever beefed up the posts and beams to handle the weight of them plus a snow load. Our friends from Top Quality Roofing in Taft came and did the job. Rev. Seikai milled the posts for the project out of a huge beam of wood we were donated years ago, and which had sat under the carport ever since. Rev. Phoebe painted the posts barn red, and then the beams once installed. Now that it’s finally done, the whole project looks great and we are grateful for the financial support that made it possible to have the work done.
As usual we have put a lot of effort into clearing brush and cutting away dead wood in anticipation of another bad looking wildfire season. But this year there is more than usual, and two large pine trees have died, which inspired us to contact a tree maintenance company and negotiate their spending a day here clearing out dead trees. That day is scheduled for June 29; the plan is for a crew of six guys to come from Ventura to do the work. Once again, we’re grateful to be able to pay people to do what would otherwise be a whole summer’s worth of work, and make the temple a little safer in the process.