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Cabin fever had set in at our farm since the middle of January, filling the Hubs and I with a restless desire to get away. But on a farm in the middle of winter...someone needs to hold down the fort. So I agreed with the Hubs that he take the first break, as I was hopelessly fixated on imposing my will upon my newest attempt at jewelry. After he returned I tried to tell myself to wait until I was finished, but...well let's just say that
Goddess and God decided that I needed a break, and threw every single stumbling block that they could in my dense stubborn-ass view to get me to understand that now is a time to just put things down and put some distance between these frustrations and myself. Of course it took about the time that has ensued minus 3 days to look up from my own self-imposed grindstone schedule to realize that….DUH! The 3 other days were the vacation.
I am fortunate to live in an area that is centrally located to experience all types of environments. I live in the mountains, close to near-by woods, lakes and rivers. Go 3hrs east you are in the desert, 3hrs west you are on the coast. 3hrs north, Eugene-Springfield area, 3hrs South, the Bay area. In a short time you can comfortably find any place that could allow you to get that much needed break.
I felt a deep need to return and cruise past the places that I lived in when I was younger. To see the house that my father and mother built after all these years had passed-you know just out of curiosity and a sense of nostalgia. When I grew up there in the 70’s, it was nothing more than a few tired house tracts from the 50’s that was trying to cover the crumbling ruins of the foundations of Camp White…one of our darkest Legacy’s of Shame perpetuated against our own citizens during WWII. It almost seems as if that area absorbed all that despair and hopelessness from that time and is doomed to carry that shame still.
There was a lot of open spaces, ranches and dairy farms interspersed with logging businesses and lumber and plywood mills and one small strip mall. The pear and peach orchards dotted the foothills, and there were several local hangouts for the kids but mainly in town.
When I went back almost 40 yrs later, my heart broke. Gone were the open spaces, replaced with lot after lot of ugly urban blight. Gone were the ranches, the dairies, replaced with chopped up plots full of decaying mobile homes and trash, rusting cars, and graffiti covering everything not moving.
Everywhere I looked was oozing despair, resignation, abandonment and decay. When I found where my parents home should have been, the house was gone, replaced with an abandoned shell of a single-wide trailer that had the windows busted out on an overgrown lot full of star thistle and weeds. I guess it was kind of appropriate. Because that is just how my family symbolically ended up, just as empty and abandoned and trashed.
I sat at the side of the road that was a gravel road in my time, in stunned silence, just looking at what was left and remembering what it was before and cried. You truly can’t go home again. Next I drove down the highway to where I graduated from high school. I search everywhere for all the old places, the park by the creek where I used to hang out, the old high school…. I saw a few of the old places, but what it once was; once again it was…gone. The small town feeling, the slow steady pulse that assured us all that some things never changed…erased.
I don’t know what I expected to see but it wasn’t this. The beautiful, sleepy small town with the gristmill…gone. I couldn’t even find the small town. It was replaced with a sense that a big metro city had crept in one night and puked and hastily left leaving only the over-crowded neighborhoods of “Americana truly enjoying the country life”.
Stacked one on the other or in gated communities on postage-stamp sized lots. I also had that sinking feeling that eventually the creeping blight was all going to merge into one ugly stain even up here; erasing any sign of how beautiful and pastoral it once was. And this is what we chalk up to what we now call progress??? WHERE?
How sad it truly is to see what it has now become under that label! It still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I always thought that my generation could do better than this…. obviously not. It looks like we didn’t even try. We haven’t learned to live as one with each other in respect, so how can we live as one with Mother Earth the same way? We have truly dropped the ball on that one. I only hope we can wake up before it’s too late.
By the end of that drive, I was really feeling pretty stormy so I went to where the weather matched my mood-the coast.
I knew of a place that I could go that was guaranteed to remain unchanged. I wanted to go to the Redwoods. I went there every time I was feeling lost when I was growing up because I could always find comfort there. It always helps to put things into perspective when you walk among them. So even though the winds were blowing and there were craft and storm warnings and the rain was falling…dumping at times; I found my needed peace and healing right there at the feet of these 200-300 ft giants.
The first night, I got in late, after the sun had set, but managed to find a room in Eureka, it’s the off-season so the rooms are fairly cheap. But I wanted to be on the beach. To watch the waves pounding out your window and to be able to just have the option of opening your door and walking down the stairs to be on the beach and go for a walk. So I had to drive up to Crescent City for that.
I stopped in various places, parking and strolling in the wind and rain on the beaches. Taking pictures of the lighthouses and eventually stopping at a gift shop to pick up a redwood burl slab for the Hubs for Valentines Day. The Hubs makes some of the most beautiful pieces of furniture with them and had wanted to get another. My thanks to the owner of his wonderful shop, who helped me with it to get it in the back of the truck.
Next was a pull off stop to take pictures of the herds of Roosevelt Elk that were wandering and grazing everywhere. Now at last, I was starting to feel really good! After stopping for lunch, I drove to Klamath and stopped at the Trees of Mystery.
The last time I had been there was about the same as when I left home…about 40 yrs ago…it has remained unchanged with the exception of the Sky Trail lift addition which definitely enhances your experience. It’s like going back in time. You literally walk through a hollow tree made into a gate, and like a time portal step into a pre-historic coastal forest. The trees are HUGE! A couple of them are almost 19ft in diameter such as the Brotherhood Tree pictured above.
There are ferns and plants growing from the Redwoods 60-70 ft in the air, and on the ground there are giant ferns and Rhododendrons and Azaleas, moss…it’s amazing and beautiful and ethereal. Just walking on the trail and taking the Sky Trail up to the top of Tom’s Ridge where you literally straddle the crest of the mountain while standing on the approximately 20×40 deck is to say the least breath-taking even in the stormy weather!
On one side is the coastal range view, and the other the Pacific Ocean view. Well worth the $14.00 entry fee just from a tourist standpoint alone! And for all the Native American buffs, they have the largest private museum collection that just has to be seen to be believed and appreciated. You could spend hours in there alone!
But it’s the “Spirit” of the place that has to be experienced. These are “The Old Ones” the giants, that you walk among. They stand in silence but speak volumes. They have withstood everything flung at them and only increased in their size and Beauty. (a lesson we all could do well to learn) Some have been here since before 1069 CE, that’s before the Magna Charta was signed, they have seen and lived through many, many things, and you know it and feel it once you enter the gate.
It’s a very humbling experience, but invigorating at the same time. Because there is a balance that has been maintained for over a thousand years there, and you can feel it humming and pulsing under your feet, in the trees themselves-it’s everywhere. I couldn’t help myself, I just stopped in the middle of the trail, threw open my arms, and opened myself to all that energy and felt instantly regenerated with a gentle lasting sense of something pretty close to immortality on our Mother Earth.
This is a place that spiritually ”Hugs” you back. I really just wanted to remain there and listen to all they had to tell, I regretfully had to leave. But not before making a mental promise to myself and Goddess and God to return later this year.
After leaving, I drove up to Crescent City and found just what I was looking for. A room on the beach. I loved it! I sat up half the night watching the crashing waves as the tide came in and the phosphorescence from the foam from my darkened room window. The wind was hammering the rain into the window in gusts, and I just grabbed the bedspread off the bed and sat wrapped up in it just watching and thinking while drinking steaming hot cups of coffee. And at the same time allowing that wind and rain to scour my grief and frustrations away leaving only new thoughts and clean new feelings where those old memories once stood.
We are so much like those grains of sand on the beach. We build all these sand castles, thinking that these are going to be a lasting memorial to our posterity and ourselves. But all the while we are only fooling ourselves and our minds. Because just like those sand castles, it all gets washed away. And our puny attempts at leaving our mark on Mother Earth, end up in time living on only in our memories where there alone it remains immortal and eventually forgotten.
There are only a few testimony’s left that speak to endurance, strength, and beauty, and in spite of the passage of time are actually still living. But even they will eventually give way to new growth. That is the cycle of life.
But at least it’s on a natural schedule and not an unnatural one of sprawl and blight like we seem to be so famous for doing. I guess in a strange sad sort of way I also understood that the blight I had just seen also would go, eventually, to be replaced with something else. And that was also a natural cycle. One thing is certain, we may change and come and go but our Mother Earth always abides–for now anyway.
I came back with a renewed sense of gratitude for where we live at now. For it is here that I can count on life remaining pretty much as it was when I was growing up. I find that I need the open spaces and the very rural settings to even feel comfortable anymore. The farms and ranches, woods and open spaces here will remain and will still remain this way long after I’m gone because of the zoning and preservation laws.
Someone here finally woke up and decided that some things just aren’t for sale or for development (a new word for that ugly type of “ progress”) . That alone gives me so much gratitude and comfort! It leaves open the hope for a new and better future. One where maybe we can learn to live with nature and not battle against it and think we are here to conquer and subject Mother Earth also to our imperial dominion.
Since this is Valentine’s Day I feel it’s appropriate to say just how much I love life at Lizardholler, my life, my family and friends-both 2 and 4 legged alike, and our Mother Earth. And I especially love places of power and energy such as the Redwoods I just visited, to keep myself in balance and to restore peace and healing in myself. I can only hope to do my part as well to restore our farm back to that balance.
One of the biggest lessons we all need to learn is not attack life and our Mother Earth, but instead learn co-exist with it and benefit from our association together. When we come to our Mother Earth it should be as one who will work to create and maintain places of power and energy like the Redwoods and to leave those places behind.
If each one of us did our part, she would be healed. In fact, our biggest testimonial of our love for Mother Earth would be to leave her far better off than before we were ever here, long after we are gone. That is the sign of “True Progress”.
Peace and Blessings
Location: Montague, California
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