And the mountain disappeared . . .
Sometimes I’m simply stuck in that urban jungle and today I was awaiting repairs to my car, the chariot to new adventures.
But not all in life is an adventure. Or is it? Perhaps we can make it so . . .
My feet just can’t sit still for six or seven hours. Especially waiting on a part to be delivered and for someone to install it. Sorry, it’s the genes I came into this world with – plugged into the bodily form I inherited.
Walk. Anywhere. Just move. Move damn it !
Coffee at the California Cattle Company. Watching their little train engine chugging around in circles overhead of the diners. Nice, but just didn’t kill enough time.
Didn’t settle the restlessness.
So no sooner than I returned to the car dealership than I had to leave that mechanic’s shop and hit the pavement. And before I knew it, I had come upon a bridge. Over a colossal, blue-green, meandering snake. As far as I could see in any direction.
The Sacramento River.
There are many things striking about this different colored ribbon. Not the gray of the highways I traversed to get here. This ribbon is freer.
Flowing. Unbound. Timeless.
No drop of water the same, but flowing in that never-ending cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, precipitation in the cold upper atmosphere, and back to complete the circle to the great ocean.
Unless of course, it was temporarily diverted; for us to consume. It still finds it way back.
Just a few days before, I had rafted the Rogue River and dove deep into its surrounding wilderness. And there is a routine the body adjusts to around water courses. You begin to flow like the water. After all, we are composed mostly of water. You can feel your bloodstream tune in and synchronize.
But the Rogue was remote, and this space is where a wild river meets megatons of concrete.
As I perch here, overlooking that once pristine river, I notice a Cliff Swallow. Then more. They dip their beaks in the River for a cool drink while in flight. Then they dance – that familiar murmuration. And as they whirl, this way and that, back and forth, into that infinite symbol of the Mobius, they slowly work their way towards their destination. Their many nesting sites under that bridge.
I’m thrilled to see them because I had just read about their declining population. It seems us two-leggeds had done it again. We were killing them off by the use of neonicotinoids, a common type of insecticide.
How long before we two-leggeds poison ourselves into oblivion? Who knows? But I think we are well on our way.
I had been looking out over the waters at the occasional boats and fishermen. And I had been looking up, at those Cliff Swallows. But it wasn’t until I passed a backpacker coming from the opposite direction that I decided to look down. Down to see another kind of poison oozing through the area. Well, some of the by-products of that toxin. The poison of greed that ultimately results in the exploitation and homelessness of others.
And what do those “others” do attempting to survive. They construct make-shift shanties under protective structures such as these. Massive ones that can withstand the weather. And that are near water for drinking, bathing, fishing. A lifestyle not necessarily favored by those of us with better means.
But in a way, this primitive lifestyle has much more meaning. For it is living with the rest of the Natural world, and it is more synchronous with Mother Earth’s Heartbeat. And it’s why I’m out here in the first place.
My camp being some 31 miles away.
I can hear the sound of a drumbeat, and the strings of a guitar. Melodies to pass the time. Take one’s mind away from the destitute circumstances. Away from gnawing hunger and tattered clothing.
It reminds me of once when I traded a gold watch for a guitar for my brother while we roamed. We had a bit of music to warm us that night. It took the place of full bellies, but it did sustain us for a little while.
Yes, there is more than one country wrapped up in this America. Differences in class and wealth. They surround us if we just open our eyes. And I’ve seen homeless colonies before in my travels – virtually everywhere.
This spot in Northern California is known for Mount Shasta; Waka-nunee-Tuki-wuki as named by the Karuk. The word “Shasta” possibly coming from early Russian settlers. But prior to the imperial colonists’ settlement, the area was inhabited by the Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugewi, Karuk, Klamath, Wintu, and Yana Tribes.
Shasta’s peak is at 14,179 feet above sea level. You can see it from 140 miles away from the South. It’s the second highest peak in the Cascades and fifth highest in California.
Yet where I’m at, along the River, it has vanished. Like the tribal residents before. Completely.
How can a mountain hide?
A small dip in geological terms and the view is obscured. In part by Nature, but more so by the concrete, the temporary world of illusion constructed by people.
Shasta has an approximate volume of 85 cubic miles, making it the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Imagine an 85 mile stretch of highway, cubed (stacked upon itself times three), and then wrapping that into the shape of a mountain. And yet this humongous natural formation to my North cannot be seen here where I stand. Just 60 miles away and it is invisible.
This invisibility can extend to many things, not just mountains, although this is a dramatic example.
Many cannot see the birds. They do not marvel at their song, their flight, their mud nests clinging to the bridges. Their babies calling out for food.
They would cover up the forests with billboards, the ones they hadn’t clear-cut that is.
Most intentionally ignore the homeless. It stirs in them those dreaded feelings of guilt. For investing in the material over the spiritual. For being a “have” in a “have-not world.” For lacking compassion, kindness, love, or even interest for their fellow humankind.
Yes, there are many things we conceal from and in our minds.
But why conceal majestic beauty? Why surround yourself in concrete? Why live and work in little square boxes, only to emerge on the rare occasion. And then be frightened by what they see.
I could have sat for seven hours, in that hollow structure temporarily housing my car. My restless nerves moved my feet, my legs, and my body. To the River. The mountain disappeared.
And I saw
Footnote: The images of the homeless colony were selected intentionally not to revel the people. I had no permission to publish their faces and I respect their privacy. But there were many people under that bridge.
Rabbit Hole: I made mention of trading that gold pocket watch, that was once my Grandfather’s, for a guitar. I told that story in a couple of my much earlier posts. I believe I took those down once the blog plagiarism struck.