Tag Archives: sonoma

Explore Your Bioregion!

Today I was feeling extremely depressed; among other reasons, both situational and neuro-chemical, my third novel, Redwood Falls, was rejected by what I and many others who’ve read the book thought would be the *PERFECT* publisher for it, Ashland Creek Press (they’re actively seeking eco-literature).  My work has been rejected hundreds of times and I’ve developed pretty thick skin, but this one really stung hard.  It truly seemed like the perfect match.  I wonder if the material was too radical for them?  It’s going to take somebody with serious chutzpah to publish Redwood Falls, as it involves tree-spiking, knocking down power lines, sabotaging railroad tracks, and bombing oil refineries–a sort of modern-day Monkey Wrench Gang, but more radical (more extreme ecological problems demand more “extreme” methods of combating the problems!), and with more of a literary bent–I’m not saying my book is better than The Monkey Wrench Gang, I’m just saying the narrator Foster is a tortured writer whose mother (a painter) will do ANYTHING she can to keep him from writing, because she is terrified he will end up an addict or a suicide, like so many other writers and creative people in general.

My apologies for the tangent; it somehow felt relevant.  So I decided that I needed a little time in nature to soothe my tormented psyche.  I took my shirt off (gotta get dat Vitamin D!), leashed up Rikki, and walked the half mile to a nice spot at the nearby Sonoma creek.  It was so very peaceful and cathartic and healing.  I sat in the calm, cool water.  I threw stikkis for Rikki.  She chewed on them, and I watched her nosh at the creek side salad bar, as she is wont to do.  There was a 20-foot blackberry bush overhanging the edge of the creek at one place; I found some of the ripe ones and ate them straight off the branch.  They were exquisitely sweet and juicy and just a tad tart.  There’s nothing like picking and eating wild berries right off the plant.  Some of them I ate straight up, some I dipped in the creek to clean off–I wonder which is better?  My mom is always worried I’ll get giardia, because I make a point of at least tasting, if not drinking, all fresh water I swim in that seems reasonably clean.  Hey, I’m a mostly-healthful-eating vegan–hence I’ve got a dynamite immune system, and the creek and river and stream water hasn’t hurt me yet!  It’s probably less dangerous than drinking most municipal tap water, given the prevalence of flouride (an INDUSTRIAL BYPRODUCT of fertilizer manufacturing) and chlorine and other pollutants.

Beautiful rock I came across in the creek.

 

My favorite part, though, was when I sat on a little boulder jutting out of the creek side and stuck my feet and shins in the water.  Dozens and dozens of minnows, beautiful, graceful little fish, came up and began nibbling on my toes and feet and legs.  It tickled a little, but felt nice, too.  It had been a couple days since I showered, so they were probably munching off bits of dead skin (Your first reaction is probably, “Gross!”  But truly, it’s a beautiful thing!)  I felt very connected to my local ecosystem in that moment, with juice from the blackberries still sweet on my tongue and the sun heating my bare flesh and my legs pleasantly cool in the water.  And that is so important.  I’ve been to National Parks and felt less connected to the place than I did to this relatively meager little locale; and yet it’s close enough for me to walk to, even with my fucked up knees.  We don’t need to travel far (and soon enough, when automobile culture “crashes,” we won’t hardly be able to!)–to have a marvelous nature experience.  Get to know your local bioregion; it may be the difference between Life and Death when our umbilical cord to industrial water and food is severed by ecological collapse.

I also picked up trash–EVERY DAY is nature clean-up day when you’re an Environ-meddler!!  I ended up with three plastic grocery bags (one of which I was able to salvage to pick up Rikki’s turds with), a big plastic garbage bag, an unidentifiable chunk of clear plastic, bottle caps, an Arrowhead plastic water bottle (think about that one for a second and you might glean one of the pathologies of civilization), an aluminum beer can, and a whole fucking folding chair, buried in about two inches of mud and rocks on the creek side–who knows how long it’s been there!  And it’s still in perfect working order, I might vinegar the shit out of that bitch and bring it home for the porch!

Doing all that made me think that, when you get right down to it, a big part of environmentalism is cleaning up the SHIT–literal and figurative–left behind by the assholes who came before us.  Whether that shit is actual shit, or nuclear waste, or pollution in the air/water/soil, that’s what it comes down to.  (If you want to learn more about what industrial humans leave behind, I highly recommend What We Leave Behind  by Jensen and McBay, and Garbage Land  by Elizabeth Royte.)

But this is the absolutely essential part, so PAY ATTENTION!:  It is not enough to merely clean up the shit left behind by humans.  Because we can never get it all!  What we have to do is ***STOP THE SHIT FROM BEING MANUFACTURED IN THE FIRST PLACE.***  In other words, if we want life on Earth to continue with any kind of diversity, we MUST hinder the smooth functioning of industrial syphilization, with the ultimate goal of dismantling it wholesale.  That’s it.  That’s the only way we’re going to stop the current Mass Extinction of plants and animals underway, caused by industrial civilization.

Rikki, NOT pleased at the prospect of a post-creek bath.

Sonoma Coast and Synchronicity

A couple days ago my fiance Rebecca and I took a half-day trip to explore the northern Sonoma coast; what a majestic place it is!  We started off from the 101 by driving through the towering redwoods and past the Russian River, following it all the way to its mouth.  Then we turned north and climbed the coastal bluffs and the scenery became more and more stunning.  Wildflowers were abundant on the shoulder and the hillsides:  California poppies and their almost-psychedelic oranges and yellows, purple and white lupine, the brilliant red of the occasional Indian paintbrush…

Lovely pine tree in its earliest stages of development.

The cliffs are rugged pastiches of gray and black and auburn and sandstone, rocky and jagged from the ceaseless slicing hands of wind and sand and wave.  I stared for miles and miles into the azure distance of the open ocean, feeling so very free and liberated, the total antithesis of the ceaseless, manic, cruel and loathsome mental condition forced on the incarcerated.  I thank Earth every day that I am a free man–free from prison, anyway.

We stopped at a beach and threw a stick for our American bulldog and pit bull mix Rikki; she and I jogged through a stream (from which Rikki and I both took cool, sweet sips–to Rebecca’s ire–but I can’t help but taste real water, when it’s from what appears to be a safe source) that led into the ocean and through the rocky surf.  Rikki also is an unquestionable symbol of freedom.  To see her bound along on the beach is to truly know ecstasy and unadulterated joie de vivre.  If only we humans were lucky and smart enough to capture and maintain that kind of attitude.

On the way home we had an interesting and profound interaction with some other humans, one of those serendipitous events that wouldn‘t have happened if not for the perfect collusion of random choices.  Rebecca pulled us into a turnout so we could take Rikki to pee.  An older man and woman pulled up in a silver van and got out.  Rebecca and I were both immediately struck with how much the man resembled an older version of her dearly departed father, Bob.  He had the same fine, combed-back white hair that Bob had toward the end of his long and courageous battle with cancer and other ailments.  His lips were soft and drawn down in the way that those with few or no teeth are–just like Bob without his dentures.  So adorable!

Some of my most interesting moments on the road have begun by striking up conversation with strangers, so I approached the couple.  Turns out they’ve lived in the New Orleans area their entire life.  The woman had never even left Louisiana!  I told them about my volunteer relief work with Common Ground after Hurricane Katrina, and about how intensely profound an experience it was.  They told us how wonderful a time they were having in California already on the very start of their three-week trip.  I recommended several places they just had to see along their route.  Rebecca and I were both stunned further by the resemblance between the gentleman and her father:  he had the same goofy sense of humor; and his name was also Bob!  It was eerie, and our subsequent discussion confirmed that we both felt the same vibes pulsing off the sweet old man with his lovely N’awleans twang.

This is not the place for me to wax philosophical on synchronicity–because I could, for pages and pages–but it is something to think about.

I told the couple how to avoid a three-hour clusterfuck on their drive from there to Humboldt, then shook hands with Bob and his wife and I hugged.  I wish them the best, and am so grateful that our respective orbits entwined for a brief stretch.

People come from all over the country, all over the world, to California, because it is the Wild West; it is one of the last areas with large unbroken tracts of wilderness in the lower 48.  It is a place of magic and incomprehensible beauty.  But soon it will all be gone–logged, decimated completely of wildlife, poisoned, “developed,” and plowed for agriculture to feed the growing overpopulation of humans (GET A VASECTOMY, guys!); unless, that is, we build a serious resistance movement to the destruction of the west and the planet.  Let’s Rewild the West, and All the Rest!