Sunday, September 23, 2012
Last night I went to the library for a presentation and slide show on my backyard, the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area. I didn't know how truly unique it was. I live on the edge of the wild, crooked Chetco River (Tolowa: chit taa-ghii~-li~’ ). In 56 miles, it drops from about 3,200 feet into the Pacific Ocean; it is not dammed like most American rivers its size. The forested watershed supports salmon, trout and Redwood trees, and over 200 species of animals. Geologists were stumped for a long time on how the formation of Klamath/Siskiyou mountains happened. Between plate tectonics, subduction zones, a gigantic orogeny, volcanic activity, carving glacial ice and the earth thrusting and shoving, we have an usual pile of old rocks smothering the younger ones. All this makes for steep, untouched, under explored river valleys, perfect for rare flora to flourish, and at least one Big Foot.
How I came to live beside this river and ocean is my reluctant story, one that I divulge only when pressed. It involves preying on people willing to dream hard. It is also a story of a new beginning, which is the part I cherish. I fell in love with my surroundings. The more I explored, the less I wanted to leave. I found perfect places to daydream, to hide, to bushwhack and to ruminate on life. I took on trail running again, bouldering on the beaches at low tide, and kayaking. Kayaking! The landscape brought me back to a place I had forgotten about within myself. It leads me to reflect on paths of least resistance, and how easy it is to join the easy routes without noticing.
I know this life requires thought. It demands attention. This now is worth educating myself about. It benefits from my opinion, it profits when I stand up for what I believe is right. In my new beginning I learn to think for myself, color outside the lines. I honor the trek to the start of the river to see where it springs from. I don't always follow its crooked downstream path.
Utah Phillips was a Veteran, a labor organizer, a storyteller, anarchist and poet. He ran for President under the the Do-Nothing Party in 1976. Utah Phillips believed in direct-action to solve problems, and shared his philosophy beautifully through folk singing. Utah Phillips was invited to be the speaker at a graduation, this is an excerpt from that experience:
Well something inside of me snapped.
And I got to the microphone, and I looked out over that multitude of faces and I said something to the effect of: "You're about to be told one more time that you're America's most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources? Have you seen them strip mine? Have you seen a clear-cut in a forest? Have you seen a polluted river? Don't ever let them call you a valuable natural resource! They're gonna strip mine your soul! They're gonna clear-cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit, unless you learn to resist, cause the profit systems follows the path of least resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked! Hmph!"
Well there was great gnashing of teeth and rending of garments- mine. I was borne to the door, screaming epithets over my shoulder, something to the effect of: "Make a break for it, kids!" "Flee to the wilderness!" "The one within, if you can find it."