Sunday, January 8, 2012

A reason to celebrate

Sun Jan 8th 2012

Admittedly, I am not the greatest at writing consistently with my blog. But, in my defense, I've been finding my footing.. sorting my way through this funny life off the grid.

I have felt all along that the larger task at hand, while residing (much more than knee deep) in this insular walk, is to share with others this extraordinary experience. However, attempting to do so while sorting through the details of the balancing act that is my life far outside the box has been the hitch. 

I do make special note in my physical journal of particularly poignant events.. and at times.. the subtle nuances resonant within me, changing me to my core. However, the more I Facebook.. or journal.. (with the fragmented 'spare' time I have, the less I seem to document here for you, the beauty and challenge of this unusual life choice. Take heart though, it is my belief that as I grow more deeply knitted to the actual path that called me on the road in the first place, (meaning: living closer to nature and not having to balance between the duties that bring cash and the duties that keep a roof over my head), then consistency will flow more organically from my mind to the ether of the net.

Since the onset of this outside the box journey many of my ideas about how my life would unfold has been influenced by my primary task at hand which has been consistently to develop a much more refined ability to listen closely to the pulse of my life in its bond with the Universe that swims within and around me. And that I have. So, my writings.. much like the remainder of my walk.. remains outside preset plans.. and in its own rhythm. 

If you enjoy exploring this walk with me.. than this becomes your walk as well on some level.. to follow along at the unusual pace. The events of my walk are now shaped daily by the hands of the mystery. Its been that way for some time now and I am finally feeling myself expand into what I hoped for when I embarked on this pilgrimage 3 years ago. I am moving closer to the way I resided in the world during the best of my childhood, when I was so intimately bound to nature I barely identified a division between myself and the natural world.

And, so it is. 

Tonight I write with a sense of celebration. Sharing with you the story of my brief communion with nature as it unfolded today in an ordinary and yet somehow extraordinary way.

I've grown accustomed to the rhythm of life here on the mountain.. (Still in N. Ca... actually a hill.. only 1,200' above sea level. But the removal from all that is ordinary.. city life.. cars.. highways.. electricity.. city water.. city sewer.. it feels more mountain than hill... so mountain it is in my experience). The weather often changes three seasons in a day from fall to late spring. This January and in December we've had an unusually warm and dry winter on the mountain. Average rainfall is not even the tiniest bit tapped yet for winter. None the less, it is chilly at night.. freezing temps often but during the day it could reach 50 degrees, but once the sun falls temps drop rapidly. Mist joins us daily.. rolling in across the adjacent hills, into the valley until they envelope us also high up the hillside.

Long johns keep me toasty, heavy jacket in the morning, one less layer when I walk the boy for our morning, mist covered walk, then as the day progresses I lose the layers.. only to return to them as the short day wains and the sun recedes behind the hills. 

I've taken full advantage of the extra sunshine and lack of rain by readying my travel trailer for a major overhaul. (I bought an 18' travel trailer for very little money and am adding my sweat equity to it.. to bring it to life).

After a very full, enjoyably and productive day removing cabinet doors, steel water tank, damaged plumbing and 3/4 of the floor, along with moving all the parts into the barn for indoor work once the rains return, I realized I was hungry. Stopping to grab a nibble, I realized it was getting on time to think about walking my furry man on his end of day exploration.

The sun was about to drop behind the evergreens on our western hillside.. so I began my prep into evening duties. I have found it is best to stay on top of this if I am to have the energy and daylight to get a fire going, get a meal cooked etc. If I don't move on it, Yona looses his time sniffing out the new scents that mark for him who has traveled on our trails, in our fields while I was chiseling away at the trailer.

It gets SOO cold once the sun drops, I wanted to get all my debris off the grass, (the internal workings of the trailer.. cabinets, couch, cushions etc) and into the barn where they'd be dry. Once accomplished, I set out on my evening walk with the dog.

We enjoyed a very pleasurable exploration of the southeastern hill just below the barn. It is a large expanse of wild grasses that are intermittently leveled out where the deer bed down at night. I've been looking for their favorite sites for bedding down so I can increase my chance of locating antlers once they start dropping by end of January early February. This has become my morning and evening ritual with the boy. I explore places that will be less easy to identify once the heavy rains lay all the grasses down on their side and darken the remaining grass with the heavy mud that is typical of this rainforest environment this time of year. 

During the walk I decided to head up a bit into an area I'd not visited since spring where there was a particularly rich, expansive view of Bear Butte. There's a platform devised out of two heavy duty, long boards. I dreamt last year would be the perfect spot for a bench or two.. to sit and watch the mountain grow. Sadly, the view is now obstructed by an enormous fallen giant, one of the many to go this year. A huge OLD oak tree apparently dropped just in front of the long, flat platform. It blocked the view I imagined.. but created its own contribution of beauty. 

I stepped in closely to consider this lovely old oak. It is approximately 300 yrs old. It is gnarled, pitted in spots but massive and twisted in the loveliest of ways. Covered in "old man's beard" or so it is called. One can identify "old man's beard" found frequently on the oaks all over California. You might think of spanish moss, it is similar but native to this continent and a bit more bushy in its appearance.

I was amazed at its minimal root structure and walked around to see the space where it pulled up the earth and scattered rocks in all directions. As I gazed at the, now dried root ball, looking deep into the well left in its upheaval. I wondered if anyone was living in the crevasse that was created there. I was absolutely riveted by the form that lay there stretched out across this high hill. This old giant use to sit so near the platform I felt last spring it was like the oak too enjoyed the view.. looking out across the valley, greeting the rising sun, watching the Butte change throughout the day, the seasons, the many years it graced that hillside.

I walked around the giant.. considering it's long life on the planet. Wondering what it was like as a sapling. Did anyone consider it's life at that time? Did anyone sit under its shadow, thinking one day it would be a giant? As I moved over and around it, I returned to the rootball and noticed the rocks lying there.. debris from the fall. It was then that I noticed a strange shaped rock lying in the gully that was once this tree's foundation. The rock stood out in it's sense of order as if it were hewn by hand. Honestly, if I didn't know any better.. I'd think someone sat down and carved this perfectly conical form with rounded ends. It seemed that unearthed there, in the great giant's footprint was this item one might find in an archeological dig.

Moving in for closer inspection.. I became more convinced I was looking at something ancient. It was huge, heavy and of a sort of limestone I suspect.. it was kindred to cement in its feel, but clearly stone, harder than limestone. (I've carved limestone and have a sense of it. This stone had a mild veining to it.. more so than limestone.. but felt kindred).

When I reached in to seize the heavy form I imagined it was used once a long time ago.. to crush grain or nuts to make into a meal, to feed the tribe. It was so beautifully formed, it could have easily been poured concrete from a mold.. except it was clearly stone. I noted two chips. one on either side, where it must have been forced to succumb to so immense pressure. Perhaps it was the pressure of being crushed slowly over time between the strong toes of this ancient tree.. only the tree and its creator could know.

Convinced as I was this was an artifact of some sort, I toted the heavy monster down the mountain to the base of the hill where my friends (and landowners) would be in 40 min. or so.. for their pups' evening ball fetch on a lovely, flat green, mowed field once used for a dressage practice ring. The form was far too heavy to cart all the way back up the mountain to the barn where we were returning. So, by the gate it sat.. awaiting the assessment of my retired ranger friends who would have an excellent working knowledge of artifacts that might fit this description.

I returned to the barn with my boy.. hungry and happy. As we passed the horse arena just outside the barn I saw an odd combination of haze and brilliant light at once.. at repositioned myself to see between the gnarled tree branches to make out the strange light illusion that captured my attention. 

There before me was a perfect, brilliant full moon rising with the hint of mist stretched out in faint bands before it. The moon felt unusually large, as is often the case when sitting just barely above the trees. I ran to get my camera in an effort to record the amazing moon that we were treated to this evening. When I returned, I snapped away as many as I could until the sky grew too dark to navigate with my somewhat limited digital camera. Sadly, the pic did not come out well at all.. But you can use the image as a jumping off place.. for so much more! :)

Knowing my boy was hungry, and wanting to make the most of this moon that would, before long, be just another lovely moon in the sky, (as if that is ever ordinary out here). I made haste with his meal and a beverage for myself. While in the barn, the phone rang. It was one of my ranger friends, (Suzanne), calling me to tell me to hurry and check out the moon! (Gotta LOVE these women!)

While on the phone she briefly mentioned they agree the form I found is probably exactly what I thought it was. Tomorrow we will return to the site and check the root ball for the bowl that should accompany the very large pestil. They added that if it were used by native people of this region, they probably used it to crush acorns. The nomadic community would have stashed the object someplace safe to retrieve it when they returned to this area seasonally. I LOVE this mountain and feel so blessed to not only be here but to have the women here on this land that know it so intimately and share their excitement for and love of this land so freely. I will miss them dearly when I depart.

After my brief chat with Suze, I returned with a bottle of champagne, (to celebrate.. the moon.. the anthropological discovery.. the day's accomplishments.. ? You name it). In addition I was smart enough to include a comfy folding chair and a meal for the boy. I set myself up and watched as the daylight gave way to the darkness or what would be darkness if not for the astounding light the full moon offered. Adding to this perfect vision of grace and beauty.. the scene was completed by the song of two or three pigmy owls calling in the distance, (their calls sound like some odd blend of owl and a bouncing ball). 

Slowly I nursed my glass of bubbly and by it's completion, I realized I too was hungry.. I trotted back in the barn to track down a gift dropped off earlier today by Suze. An odd assortment of free food from their fridge was now mine to enjoy. Yummy cheeses, yogurt, and.. oh, (smoked eel) Sushi... (YUM!).

I nabbed the sushi and ran to the truck for a very special set of chop sticks. (I bought two pair of exceptionally nice chop sticks on my last visit to Philly prior to departure). Apparently this was the special occasion I was waiting for to finally open this set of chopsticks. Champagne, the moon, sushi, pygmy owls and my dog.. what a way to celebrate! 

If you can not step in my skin and feel the specialness of it.. I am not sure how to spell it out exactly. But, first of all, this was no ordinary moon. Secondly, I made a promise to Yona that I would do all in my power to create a life for him that was filled with pleasurable experiences that we would SHARE. I've recognized recently, with my work load that I've set him too far aside again.. behind the work at hand and it was time to change that. I imagined this trip to be one where he and I would be closer to nature.. and we would be that together. He has demonstrated time and again his appreciation for our special time together even though he is a fairly independent guy. He clearly loves our time together.

But instead.. I've returned to living as I would on the grid.. and return to the barn at night.. every night. I got in the pattern of going in after his walk to make dinner.. I'd then head upstairs and write or read or watch a movie on the laptop or sleep. But, in spite of the immense beauty and close proximity of serious, expansive, wild nature, rarely do I ever sit outside with my boy as I had originally imagined. Let alone do so at nightfall.

So, there I sat.. me, my boy, my champagne, my sushi and the MOON!!! I tossed the ball for the boy a bit.. then as the sky darkened.. he settled in and we just SAT and watched.. and watched.. and watched as that big bright beeeautiful moon rose. We both just sat and watched.. and listened and thought our thoughts.. and watched some more.

It was in the silent watching.. that it occurred to me.. this is the PERFECT time to enjoy my little, cheap bottle of champagne because, well, in addition to accomplishing a HUGE list of things today.. I was doing what I intended to do back in 2008 when I embarked on this trip into the "wilds". As I sat there.. in my silence.. I conferred with nature.. with my boy.. we sat together.. and drank it all up. THIS was well worth the bottle of champagne originally intended for New Year's Eve to mark a big transition into the mysterious 2012. I am very glad I waited.

Now that I have the travel trailer and am transforming it into the mobile sanctuary and studio I imagine it being.. i will be able to move about the world with greater freedom while retaining a bit of comfort, safety.. and ease for the body.. without sacrificing opportunities to get closer to nature for simple events much like tonight. That with the simplicity of this simple experience, luxuriating before this moon, it somehow charges something within me and I immediately brighten in its wake.. realizing.. all things are unfolding.. I am on my way deeper into my dreams.. in a pace that is easy and slow.. a pace that allows all good things to unfold in a fashion that allows me to drink up and fully savor the lush, luxurious life that is mine, far off the grid.

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