April

April is the cruellest month.

  T.S. Eliot

I woke up in an unbearably dark, gray birthday mood a week ago contemplating the first line in T.S. Eliot’s seminal poem, The Waste Land. Since then, I learned Eliot and his wife caught the Spanish Flu in December of 1918, and he wrote much of The Waste Land while recovering from the deadly pandemic following World War I.

After sheltering in place for the past six weeks with no end in sight, and incessantly watching the news that has grown more abysmal by the day, I was practically climbing the walls on the brilliant spring morning of my recent April birthday.

A Ray of Hope

Nick's Cove Seafood, Cocktails and Cottages
Nick's Cove Seafood, Cocktails and Cottages

As I buried my head – neglected silver roots and all – under a faded blue coverlet, a ray of hope glinted across my mind. Still wearing the pale pink dog and cat pajamas Marshall gave me for Christmas, I crossed my fingers and eagerly dialed a beloved and iconic West Marin coastal retreat, and hoped they were serving lunch?

In 1921, a Yugoslavian immigrant named Nick Kojich bought land bordering Tomales Bay shortly after the Spanish Flu pandemic ended. Only a few rustic fishing cabins dotted the Bay’s edge until Nick built a restaurant in 1930, added a post-Prohibition bar in 1933, and erected several guest cottages for visitors from San Francisco.

“Nick’s Cove is serving takeout,” I exclaimed joyfully to Marshall as I quickly dressed in layers for the coast. We jumped in the car with Toby and drove the hour and fifteen minutes west through the redwoods, then north along the Pacific Coast Highway to the remote hideaway in West Marin County.

Uncle Andy’s

Despite gorgeous spring flowers, there was no place for a picnic on the coast
Despite gorgeous spring flowers, there was no place for a picnic on the coast

As I scoured both sides of Highway 1 from the passenger seat, I saw no suitable place for our celebratory picnic. Beaches were closed and even parking lots were roped off.

When we arrived at Nick’s, I asked Alison at the front desk if any cottages were available. “Uncle Andy’s across the street is sparkling clean and vacant,” Alison said with a smile as she handed me the key.

Funky Yet Luxurious

Uncle Andy's cottage was filled with seaside light
Uncle Andy's cottage was filled with seaside light

I was captivated the moment I opened the door to Uncle Andy’s cottage. Walls were covered with cream-colored beadboard and studded with old-fashioned windows letting in brilliant seaside light. Old, orange-colored fir floors sparkled with care beneath a collection of worn but still vibrant vintage rugs.

A shiny black potbellied stove sat on top of big fat grout lines wedged between crusty oversized gray bricks. Projecting from the unpretentious focal point was a comically crooked stove pipe that angled unexpectedly to the ceiling, whimsically separating the cabin’s sleeping and sitting areas.

Relics from the Past

An authentic sturdy cupboard with timeless fishing rods
An authentic sturdy cupboard with timeless fishing rods

Tucked in a corner across from the king-size bed was a funky, but deliciously authentic, antique cupboard embellished with two chunky doorknobs, round bun feet, and an old-fashioned birdcage. Decades-old fishing rods leaned against the sturdy honey-colored cabinet that had proudly stood the test of time.

The sitting room displays brilliant blue boat building plans from the 1930s above the sofa
The sitting room displays brilliant blue boat building plans from the 1930s above the sofa

A trio of framed brilliant blue boat building plans dating back to the 1930s hung over the plush sofa in the sitting area. A scruffy old pine chest served as a coffee table next to a primitive armoire that housed a flat-screen television and music components. Two vintage floor lamps glowed with soft golden light.

The Back Door Surprise

An unexpected bathroom with a backdoor opening to a tiny deck
An unexpected bathroom with a backdoor opening to a tiny deck

But the most provocative room was the bountiful bathroom with its elegantly tiled and heated floor below an elaborate old-world marble wall-mounted sink. A door from the bathroom opened to a petite but idyllic deck, where the view and the lighting were pitch perfect for a springtime birthday lunch. I was enchanted.

An idyllic place for a birthday lunch overlooking sublime green grass that smells like spring
An idyllic place for a birthday lunch overlooking sublime green grass that smells like spring

Once we checked in, room service arrived with a generous serving of shrimp ceviche and two margaritas. We savored the treats from our diminutive deck while gazing over a sublime green meadow that smelled like spring. Taking in the season’s freshness filled me with joy and immense gratitude to be alive.

The old red cottage and blue boat had welcomed visitors to Nick's Cove for decades

That afternoon, Toby and I walked around the property admiring brilliantly painted cottages and boats that had undoubtedly prevailed for generations.

Toby sunning himself on Uncle Andy's front porch
Toby sunning himself on Uncle Andy's front porch

I thought about what life was like by Tomales Bay a hundred years ago. Five years of devastation had come and gone with World War I and the deadly Spanish Flu. Yet life had flourished, and the world survived.

T.S. Eliot thought April was the cruelest month because it held spring, which re-awakened painful memories for him. I cannot imagine the suffering he endured during those five wretched years of war, death, and illness from the pandemic.

Fortunately, for me the spring splendor and renewal of life April brings still inspires hope to defeat despair in this arduous time on earth.

The Yugoslavian Fisherman

Nick Kojich
Nick

Before we left, I spotted a relic I had overlooked in Uncle Andy’s cabin. It was an archaic black and white framed photograph sitting on a shelf. A man in a plaid shirt leaned forward, hands on bent knees, between two enormous fish hanging by their tails above him.

I later pulled up a YouTube video about the history of Nick’s Cove and there, to my astonishment, was that photograph with a simple one-word caption – Nick. My eyes clouded with tears.

The legendary boat house at Nick's Cove on Tomales Bay
The legendary boat house at Nick's Cove on Tomales Bay

Today, Nick’s Cove is the longest running restaurant, oyster bar and inn on the West Marin Coast. Nick survived World War I, the Spanish Flu and immigrating from Yugoslavia to America. What he created has not only survived, it has thrived for almost a century.

And that my dear friends should give Americans – hope.

For the love of April, America and hope,
XOX

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 25 comments
  • Masha Butler
    Reply

    Happy Birthday – I hope I can go there someday. But you helped me imagine it! Thanks. Marsha

  • Laurie Larsen
    Reply

    As does your beautiful way with words!! Always!!!

    And of course — HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear Linda! AND MANY MORE!

    Love and lots of Hope to you, Toby and Marshall

  • Pat
    Reply

    So glad that you had such a wonderful birthday

  • Nancy Lyons
    Reply

    What an uplifting story. I am so glad you were able to celebrate what I am sure will be a memorable birthday when you think back to this. And Eliot definitely nailed it…April this year truly was the cruelest month.

  • Teresa Steadman
    Reply

    How wonderful! You are so talented, even as a writer. So happy that you were able to escape to such a unique place. I am from Georgia and planning a trip your way and would love to stay at Uncle Andy’s cabin. Hope you had an awesome birthday!

  • deborah healy
    Reply

    Happy Birthday Linda. It sounds like you found the magic on the coast and made it your own. You discovered the perfect cabin, peace, and great food and enjoyed them with those you love the most. Well done.

  • Denise pias
    Reply

    Moving story. Thanks for the writing. Happy Birthday Linda! What a way to make it memorable.

  • Kirby Kendrick
    Reply

    This is the best blog ever! We feel your great love of nature and design in a whole new way! Happy Birthday!

  • Gail Oliver
    Reply

    I love the story. Beautifully written!

  • Barbie Derby
    Reply

    I feel the same way as Kirby “One Of Your Best Lynn” & LOVE LOVE the PICTURE OF TOBY, he really Shined!!!
    Happy Birthday To One Talented Texas Star*

  • Joan Von Weien
    Reply

    You raised my mood today, as I have realized that to use common sense, I am in for the long haul!!

    Charlie Brown, my Havanese buddy is keeping very good company with me, and we imagine together your nostalgia in returning to Nick’s and staying in the cabin.

  • Jenny Duffy
    Reply

    “Sensitive beings suffer more but they also love harder, dream wider and experience deeper horizons and bliss. When you’re sensitive, you’re alive in every sense of this word in this wildly beautiful world. Sensitivity is your strength. Keep soaking in the light and spreading it to others.”— V. Erickson

    Linda, the same sensitivity that has led to you create and share your beautifully offered life experiences; the same sensitivity that nourishes your art and that incredible “eye” of yours; the same sensitivity that sometimes expresses itself in melancholy, is much the same as tone and harmony. Together the music of life is composed . Thank you for your lovely story. (p.s. Toby’s photo is perfection)

  • Maria
    Reply

    HaPpY BiRtHdAy, LiNdA!! Good on you for getting proactive and making the very best of your birthday. I’ve never heard of Nick’s Cove. It looks and sounds delightful. I’d like to visit some day when “this too shall pass”. Hang in there!
    xx

  • Kathleen Borkowski
    Reply

    Happy Birthday, Linda!🌿🥳🌿
    A delightful story & celebration! Just beautiful.

  • Cynthia S Dahl
    Reply

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul
    And sings the tune without the words
    and never stops – at all –
    Emily Dickinson

    Happy Birthday Linda.

  • sandy spargur
    Reply

    A dreamy birthday and such and adorable photo of Toby.
    Your words are inspiring for us all. Thank you for sharing you wonderful day🌷

  • Jean Bennett
    Reply

    Happy Birthday, Linda!! 🙂
    I am so happy for you, that you got to spend your birthday in such a sweet place 🙂 Thank you for sharing your beautiful time at Nick’s Cove 🙂

    Jean

  • Shelia Minier
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Your story and pictures lifted my spirits on this dreary, rainy day in east Tennessee.

  • MARLA
    Reply

    BEAUTIFUL! As it always is from you!! Toby precious!! Happy birthday mine is a month away. Been thinking about how to celebrate life live and beauty!!

  • Barbara S Allen
    Reply

    Very inspiring. What a beautiful place. Glad all is well with you and yours. Thanks.

  • bob
    Reply

    …cool story & adventure…tfs…

  • Yvonne Danelle Carpenter
    Reply

    Besides the scenery, great story and quaint setting, my favorite thing was the boat pulled up on shore that held so many goodies. There is a ‘special’ place for everyone when we slow down, make the effort to find it, and then appreciate it as Nick has done. What a wonderful gift he has left for others to enjoy! Happy Birthday, Linda.
    Danelle

  • Torild Roberts
    Reply

    Linda, you are an enchanting writer. I am so happy that you had a wonderful birthday.
    The pictures of Nick’s Cove, with Toby in the chair, really put a smile on my face.

  • Diane Arroyo
    Reply

    Happy belated birthday Linda. Love your adventure. You writing takes me there with you. Thank you for the words of hope & Happy Mother’s Day too.

  • Kay Criley
    Reply

    VERY BELATED BIRTHDAY WISHES, dear Linda❣️“The root of joy is gratitude,” and that gratitude turned gloom into bloom for your birthday💗💗💗 Kay

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