Jo Mora - Reflections on Inspiration

 I had the good fortune of being the gardener for Jo Mora's son Jo N. Mora and his wife Kitty at their family home in Pebble Beach in 1968-1970.
 Their house and land looked out over the Pacific Ocean, the full horizon spreading blue  ocean north and south. Figures on the white sand of Carmel beach were invisible from this distance.
 We would cut trees and brush together and then I would work alone doing the simple tasks. Often we would converse about his father, once Jo took me into his father's studio, it was the first time I saw the real labor of an artist, not the refined finished work, but the toil and perseverance, the simple tools, the locale where inspiration became reality. 
 I remember once Jo pointed to all of the mountains that stretched to the south and east and said, "My father and I have ridden horseback all over those mountains and we never got lost because I would turn around and remember where we came from, people get lost bcause they don't look behind them as they go forward." 
 He had a lovable no nonsense quality, brusque in a charming way, a hard worker who like to work (especially with someone who could keep up with him). He would go into the house for lunch and his wife would have prepared a plate of sandwiches and fruit for me that I would take outside and sit under a tree in the yard and eat lunch, she included a small can of beer, the smallest can of beer I've ever seen. 
 One day when I was weeding Jo came out and we were talking about his father and how he had ridden horseback up the coast of California in the early 1900's sketching all of the missions and the vaqueros, senoritas, horses, the whole scene. He said "wait a minute, I'll show you something" and he went into the studio and brought out one of his father's diaries, a black leather bound book, worn by time and travel, he opened the book to show me some of the entries and when he did he opened it right to the date of my birthday, I remember thinking in a stunned way, "this person is trying to tell me something". 
 And I took it to heart, the whole experience. I realized that the inspiration and freedom of wanderlust can be tempered with a sense of purpose. 
 Often after work I would drive my TR4 down the coast to Big Sur, always picking up a hitchhiker or two on the way, I would look at the vista of mountains above the Pacific and think of Jo Mora and his son, riding horseback, disappearing into the canyons, but never lost. 

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