In Fresno, and nearby areas.
The San Joaquin River at Woodward Park.
Incense in the air, like a spirit, in my grandparents’ house.
My cousin and I meet an adorable, friendly cat in the orange orchard at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.
This kid is all KINDS of precious! What a cutie! He also let me pick him up.
I pass by my old house, where I lived when I was ten. A lot of memories here.
Back in my grandparents’ house, I always want to take in every moment of home. Even the oranges are beautiful.
This dining room is where we have shared many meals together. It’s emptier, now :,(
But still, I remember the joyful things my grandpa created, and I carry them with me.
But this is still the land of angels, and I wish to return again, again…
– Gentle J. Pine
Heat time sunrise Fresno California
roses hum cricket’s continuous singing–
mourning dove’s soft hoot on the terrace
is perched at the edge of the sky
My desert is alive with the spirits of pine needle,
cottontail bounding in sage, to San Joaquin river
white live oak offering incense,
a hanging pot floats magic carpet to red roof
In the lush breeze of July dawn in the valley
listen for Worldmaker sauntering in the garden,
with Coyote and prickly pear he goes in the garden–
run out to meet him in dew drops on adobe
Chalk is the story of neighborhoods.
The children point the way in the roads.
Histories hover over these sidewalks
where the mothers stood in the doors
while we buried our wars
at the end of the cul-de-sac,
the shrine of the pack.
Old land in your infamous summer.
You were paradise and continue to be
in your wrinkled oaks of the valley,
yellow stone hills thirsty.
On paper it rains ten inches a year,
desert magic washes boneyards in creek-beds.
I was a child on the roof, in the clouds,
small ears alert to industrial thunder
that would dare take the soul
with the earth.
It might be the drive between sparkling, montane Quail Springs and comforting, familiar Fresno which is the most dismal, alienating four-hour drive in all of California. A ghastly expanse of oil rigs puncture godforsaken rock and ash where once were gentle Valley Oak and wildflower savannas roamed by Tule Elk and Bear. Nameless towns of nowhere on dusty highways appear from the no man’s land of big-box fast food stops, gas stations and sketchy motels with blinking neon lights. Any sight of human habitation in the form of neighborhoods are either monolithic tracts of identical mini McMansions, or lopsided old houses supported by tarps and barbed wire appearing to huddle together for dear life (assuming the inhabitants have found strength in community, as I hope). Just to make sure I got the message, I was pulled over by flashing blue and red lights and awarded a speeding ticket for doing a modest 68 in a mysteriously unmarked 55 mph zone, according to the cop, who was just doing his job. And when I, approaching Fresno from a distance still on the lower highway 41, saw that the air was so afflicted by a heavy carpet of smog so as to veil the mountains and the sun’s full shine in a brown haze, I almost no longer believed. At the edge of despair I thought the land was lost forever, when at once, something flashing, flame-shot with gold, caught the corner of my eye. From below the signposts and still grass of the roadside there arose in chorus a great congregation of birds from the earth like a fleet of angels in resurrection. I saw their beating wings catch the morning sun and reflect, in each perfectly synchronized turn of the flock, the red haze of the marred light in a new-made shimmer as if to give unshakable glory to the life eternal which still lives in this world, even in such a time as this. I saw more flocks gather around me as my car traveled on, and they flew overhead and resided there in the air in cadence with my own pace of flight. Their shadow was so dense above me that my sight became for a moment darkened, the outline of each feathered body becoming one. When having passed over me entirely, and, leaving the wake of my movement to myself once again, they seemed to take all darkness with them. And my eyes were wider, restored with light.
A recollection from my time at Quail Springs Permaculture Farm, Autumn 2013
image source: pixabay license
Two nights ago, Grandma and I read together Ursula K. Le Guin’s, “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight?” and last night we saw Life of Pi. I like both these stories!
Buffalo Gals was read to us in Anake, and I was so tired that week that I fell asleep in the middle of it. But what I did hear slipped into my dreams, and I wanted to go back and hear it again. The next day, Marcus said to not worry if we did not hear all of it, because maybe you weren’t ready to hear the whole thing.
Animal spirits are more clear to me now. I understand how completely alive animals are in their own right, whether wild or domestic. They feel love in their own way of being that isn’t dependent on our recognition of it.
“Eco” means “house”, and to animals, their habitat is their bedroom of life and dreams. Now there is a similar comfort of being at home in these wild places as I feel in my bedroom sanctuary, or my camping tent. And I understand now the human-animal way of true belonging in the world, safety in storms, the world itself the one great comforting tent. I wonder if the people of the Tanakh felt their desert tents were a traveling world-home, at home wherever they go with the wild God of the Original World.
image sources: pixabay license
There is a portal to the Underworld in Fresno, California. In the middle of the unassuming, circular on-ramp to Highway 41 heading south on Friant, north of Riverpark, you may find it. I recall it was a beautiful small piece of unrecognized land. But in my dream it is an off-ramp. Through this door you can see the big businessmen and the greedy and powerful who abuse their power are half human, half beast. We are all half beast, but these who are evil have bloated bellies and foul fluids dripping from fangs. They pull their sweatshop workers behind them in chains. Their money is blood and gold trinkets which they bargain in lives for.
I have a partner here with me, my companion exorcist. We find the portal to the Underworld in the earthen middle of this circular ramp to 41. There is a spiraling pathway into the center of the circle from the asphalt, a miniature map of where the wild begins, and reclaims what she lost. “Do you remember the way in?” My companion asks me. “The Earth will open for you, and will close around you. Darkness will be all you can see and your breath will leave you entirely as the weight of the ground presses in. There will be no breath for a moment, and all will be blackness. Then your breath will return in a great rush, and your eyes will open, and your ears and nose will open, and you will be on The Other Side.”
We go into this place, and my breath is lost to the darkness. When it comes rushing back, it is a new breath unlike in the world above. My name here is Edath, and my companion is Adair.
The spirits here are up to no good, and it is up to myself and Adair to foil them. Scouts on reconnaissance, Adair is to fly the plane, but the bad spirits discover this and are angry. We must go quickly. We fly above their dwelling with our invisible wings, the ones I always have when I am an exorcist, attached to my arms and down my back and legs. But we have dropped our silver sword, Adair falling toward the abyss along with it, but by a great energy I lift him back up to me.
image: Creative Commons CC0
Sifting through stuff, I found just now a note written by my grandfather, Robert. (His squiggly wizard handwriting is unmistakable.)
“The Golden Treasury of Poetry.
Laughing Song, with bumblebee.
Remember ‘The Blind Man and the Elephant’.
What is an elephant? [Insert unintelligible squiggles here].
–Thick skinned hoofed animal.
Elephant, rhinoceros, pig.
Check life on religion.”
Looks like he’s still leaving me bits of encouragement along the way.
“Along the way…”…! That reminds me…
“Whenever you want to brighten your day
Just help someone along their way.”
That was something he made up.
Images © the family of Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.
Written age 11, December 15th, 2001
I was walking along the river one day
When the sky turned dark and drifted away.
I saw the pigeons flock about
and swam away did all the trout.
I smelt the grasses, sweet and mild,
And heard the call of all the wild.
The wind so quickly swept over me
As if I were by the sea.
I felt the coolness of the air,
The river running fresh and bare.
Taste the sweetness of the honey,
Saw the rabbits, cute and funny.
The stars were winking strange but great
And I thought to myself, “what is my fate?”
Lost about here in this secret bend,
Will there ever be an end?
The moon looked down upon my face
Giving me comfort in this last peaceful place.
Will all this be here still someday?
Or will it all have gone away…
December 2001, age 11
Image © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.
Written when I was age 9, July 30th 1999
As I rode upon the horizon
I look up and see,
a golden leaf falling
and a redwood tree for me.
Over the green wide rolling hills
in the fresh air so free,
the blue sky as light as paint
and the bright purple flowers
so cute they make me faint.
As I look around and see a rainbow,
yes a rainbow world for me!
Then I think, “yeah,” a rainbow,
what else could it be.
We all have our own hands,
but together we create life’s body,
That’s the end!
Images © the family of Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.