|Adrienne Meir (left) with Hospice of Santa Cruz County Board member, Cara De Simone|
By Adrienne Meir
In all the years that I have lived in Aptos, I have never had the opportunity to attend the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group's annual event, Gourmet Grazing on the Green. However, this year, being the new Assistant Director of Development for Hospice of Santa Cruz County, it was one of my job assignments to man the Hospice booth at this annual outdoor fundraising event. (Gourmet Grazing on the Green raises important funds for non-profit organizations that support individuals with cancer).
I was quite pleased with this assignment since my colleagues raved about the wonderful food and wine that restaurants and wineries all over the county offer in abundance at this well attended event.
The morning of Grazing on the Green came and I was anxious to set up my display early to avoid the normal last minute rally for parking for such a popular event. Even though I had set my alarm clock for an early Saturday morning wake-up I had another wake-up call of the rhythmic pitter-pattering on my bedroom window….rain!
Of course anyone that hears the word “rain” for an annual outdoor event usually displays that look on their face, even if it is not spoken, of “oh, isn’t that too bad”, but I would have to say that the reason that I am writing this is to relay quite a different experience at my first “Grazing”, in fact the experience I had was somewhat Divine in nature.
There is something profoundly symbolic about the first rain of Fall. A renewal, a starting over, a cleansing and a sense that the earth is being fed, as well as our sometimes weary human souls. I would have to say that Mother Nature offered a memorable gift to all that attended this event.
It was if we were all given permission to splash in mud puddles, get sopping wet and not care, and huddle under common umbrellas and tents with folks that we hardly knew. As I sat at my booth and observed the pure joy on so many faces it was euphoric! Please note that some that attended this event are currently battling cancer, or may be in remission from cancer or may have just found out they have cancer or in some cases are in the dying process with cancer. Some are cancer survivors and others are the loving families that support their loved ones by living right along side them. The great part is that they all had smiles and giggles and bad hair and muddy shoes and they all exuded an authenticity and a sense of peace of being joy filled right in their moment.
As I watched with a pure contentment of being in the right place at the right time, I could hear stories of survival and support and gratitude all around me. College students, babies, families, retired couples walking arm in arm, and even the event volunteers all seemed to embrace a childlike wonder in the rain.
Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green was a huge success in raising needed funds for many of the non-profit organizations that support folks with cancer. Beyond this huge gift, which “Grazing” gives to the community every year, came an unexpected gift….which reminded us all of the power of community and the transformative effect it brings even when we simply huddle together with strangers when the rain comes.