September 2009


“Back already from your trip?” you ask, “I thought you just left for Evolution Valley yesterday?”.

Lesson #1 – Gaiters do not work when they are in your backpack and not on your legs
Lesson #2 – Watch your footing on granite when shaley rocks are present, regardless of slope
Lesson #3 – If you do need to bail on your trip to seek medical care, do so where you have relatives living right down the hill

After 6 hours in the car yesterday we arrived at the high country reservoir called Florence Lake which looked interesting as its mostly drained right now so they can do work on the dam.  The usual packing, sunscreening, clearing out the car and putting stuff in bear boxes and we were off to the closed down store at the edge of the lake  to consider our route. The dry lake was the reason we  needed to hike extra mileage, as the water taxi was not running, but also offered another opportunity to cut some mileage off the southern shore maintained trail route. The off trail northern route looked doable as the basin was mostly smooth granite, little mud as far as we could see.

We set off and not 500 yards from the lot I slipped on some shaley granite. Torqued my ankle a bit but popped back up prepared to go on. Until I looked down.  A wide 2″ gash in my shin  – dark red with fatty tissue popping out.  Shit. It hadn’t even hurt that much.   I sat down and compressed it and it wasn’t bleeding much but was looking nasty.

Jim and Donna were sweet in their care and irrigated it, neosporined it and taped it up best they could (which the doc later said looked great).  I decided starting an a long trip was probably not the best idea without getting it looked at.  We figured out logistics and they went on and I headed down hill in Donna’s car, not finding a medical center until two hours later – the Clovis Hospital.  After many hours there (why I did not think to go further on to an Urgent Care instead, I do not know) I drove just a few minutes to my sister-in-law‘s family home where her brother Robert awaited (my hero), scarfed down dinner, made some calls trying to locate an open store with water treatment tablets (did not) and went right to bed.

Doc said I coulda hiked on in, and I considered it but did not have any of the communal  gear, including water treatment  – a key issue – and it would have been a 2 hour drive and a  9 mile hike to catch up with them – a lot for a tired sore ankled girl. So, I decided to come home and just chill, work on house projects, get a massage and sit staring at the ocean instead of a lake.

I now feel as tough ass as the most pierced and leathered in Santa Cruz with my 5 stainless staples sticking up outta my shin. Gonna make a pretty scar I tell ya.

Feeling grateful for my good life, having medical insurance, and the love of all my peeps.

Patrick’s Point on the Humbolt Coast. A deep, wide stretch of smooth rock beach, undulating between very fine and large rocks wet by surf and drying.  They slide on each other easily, forcing a slow walk, enticing one to gaze down at their multi-hued gray golden loveliness.  Opaque quartz everywhere, but the one who has a discerning eye and is patient for quality finds agates.  They let the light clear through and are smoother in the hand than the others, often found shining in the footsteps of those who came before.   Best to come right as the tide recedes but always some somewhere on this grand sweep of beach, golden in the sunlight, you too shining in the company and true-hearted conversation of a new friend, the depth and play of that, the “come here, I have something I want to show you” hand-in-hand discovery of it all.

There’s nothing on the website about it, but when you come to Strawberry Music Festival, you are welcomed into the Strawberry family and begin to learn the Strawberry Way.  Absent a master list, I can tell you it includes things like:

* Kids have as much free fun as possible, including you grownup kids
* Be kind, polite and considerate to each other
* Share, help, pitch in
* Smile at your neighbors (even if they were up playing late next to your tent)
* Conserve water, don’t litter, recycle
* Pick and sing until you can’t any more

You come home feeling like a peaceful co-existence is possible and are reminded to live the Strawberry Way every day.

This was my first Fall Strawberry and we Tequila Mockingbirds were less than a dirty dozen this year, but we took to the event like a drunkard to rum sitting in with Camp Hold On, Camp Let Go for the jams and sneaking kitchen access wherever we could find it.  It was warmer, dustier than spring, with higher attendance even without a sell out crowd.  I enjoyed my first real jamming time, made some really sweet and unexpected connections with folks in and out of camp and still soaked in all the usual naps in hammocks, Birch Lake swims and rambles into neighboring camps to lend an ear and a voice.  Photos and more stories are here and replaying in my happy mind.

Two stories stand out for the Festival.

One: Luka (from Camp Let Go, Camp Hold On) tugged at his mom’s shirt in the middle of the Sunday Happy Hour Jam and asked ” Hey, are those the ‘I Got It At The Mall’ people? ”  We Mockingbirds now have a reputation.

The second is simply the advice “don’t over underestimate” – originally applied to the imbibement of the corn likker Mahlon brought in from the midwest and then liberally applied to other situations with great gusto and fun.

Come with us sometime to the high wood.  We’d love to shower you in fast pickin’, slow jams, good liquor, and a heartful of the Strawberry Way.

Today I am almost 4 weeks into 3 months off work.

While it has been filled and sometimes feeling a bit too busy with all the goodness and experience, I yet can feel myself slowing down.  My mantra for this time is to Move only When Ready: when the energy is right, when my heart tells me too, only then say yes, make a plan, do the  next thing. Meanwhile, nap when needed, read a lot, go easy on the chores, dunk naked into fresh water whenever possible.

So many sweet experiences so far:  Great eats and girl time in Sonoma County with Lise and Lesli; Kitchen talks and fun everyday time with three great boy-filled families – hikes, building things, spaceships and dinosaurs, rope swings, football practices and frostys (hugs to Parrotts, Lows, Liskes); A successful and exuberating five day solo trip into Caribou Lakes Basin in the Trinities;  A new affair with Kosk Creek and Big Bend Hot Springs (where my toes can be seen poking up in the photo, past which is our secluded creekside camp in the trees (big heart gratitude to Robby, Osita and Sneaky).

This weekend – Strawberry Fall Music Fest, never been – aiming for fun.  After that, more backcountry time I think – we’ll see where to move next when I get to next week.