From Hand to Mouth: One Mans Dream

The coolest thing about being on the road, often times, is the people that you meet. Our van draws a lot of attention and inquiries. If we wanted to be stealth…we’ve failed.

Most often the people asking are in the process of, or have already built out their own van. Some are dreamers, some envy our life, some think it’s cool. Some come around the corner in a parking lot, beaming smile, and ask for a tour. This story is about a happenstance meeting, as described above. A prearranged, karmic meeting, of a gal with a beaming smile, in a parking lot, took the tour and asked for our help. She offered us refuge on a 365 acre plot of timbered terrain, bought 30+ years ago by her husband.

It was early July 2021, COVID was mostly under control, although still a threat. We agreed to take her up on her offer and set out for Bandon and Coquille, Oregon. We talked about what we thought we might find and how much time we would dedicate. Someone shared their knowledge with us, it’s time to give some of that back.

When we pulled up to the house, written in purple paint was ‘Welcome C&J’. We have decided that if a local asks us to have dinner or stay on their property, we would take them up on the offer, if for no other reason than to see how the locals live. Be open to the hospitality offered. This was a little above what we had anticipated.

Jennifer was home and greeted us like long lost family. We sat down and chatted until her husband came back from The Homestead. The Mountain Homestead, this was what they called the 365 acres of a permaculture, unadulterated timberland that they own. It’s now protected by a conservation easement. Chip arrived and here stood an old hippie-type that showed his joy in his laugh and smile. We all sat down for dinner and talked for hours then retired.

The next morning was van day! We all went over what it was they wanted our help with. Chip and I ran all over the small town to try to find a few parts we needed. Small towns don’t offer much for van building or 12 volt conversions. We managed to pick up some of the items we needed but had to turn to Amazon for the rest. We managed to run the wires out of the circuit board and up to where the main power control would be (for lights and fans, etc.) and ground the electrical system. As usual, it took almost all the day to accomplish just those simple tasks.

We had two days till the parts would arrive so we opted to move up to the Homestead to wait out the weekend. We all made plans and headed out for the Homestead in Coquille, a 30 minute drive.Chip proudly drove us up to the property and we parked the van at our weekend retreat.

My imagination was running wild as we drove on towards this little piece of heaven. I couldn’t begin to wonder how Chip felt thirty years ago when he chose to purchase this land for conservation sake, never to be clear cut. A small piece of nature he could call home and share with like minded people. His plan of a permaculture society was real, his dream, his passion. Not many people can have a dream and see it to fruition.

Upon arriving to the turn off, the thick forest quickly closed in, a small creek flowed beside the road, birds sang, and the air was fresh and heavy with the sent of earth. The road was a single lane dirt road that in the beginning was just a deer trail into the property. Chip told us of how the realtor, he and his wife, all trudged threw the forest, crossing the creek and emerged into this wonderful clearing, now the main hub of the Homestead. How he worked hard to pay it off and create a community, build buildings, create a garden and bring fresh spring water to the main compound clearing. How his idea came to light and for a long while lived happily off his hard work and the land. You could feel the passion and see the joy this all brought him as his eyes sparkled and he became animated.

The first thing that we saw as we rounded the bend into the opening, was a terraced opening surrounded by 75’ pine, spruce and fir trees. Several rustic structures hugging the hillside, surrounded by fruit trees, herbs and a huge garden area, including a hoop house type greenhouse. The sound of silence. The birds chirping wildly. I felt a resounding sense of the Mother.

All the wood and materials sourced from the land. There is a full saw mill on the property where they made the wood planks. Tin and plywood made up most of the roofs. They have a root cellar, garden room, tool room and workshop under the main structure. Wood stoves provide heat in the rooms. They have composting toilets, and pump spring water to the property for drinking. There’s a full array of solar panels providing enough electricity to run a washer and dryer. An amazing feat of ingenuity, and a lot of planning. They lived on the land for 27 years until an allergy and illness, caused by a sensitivity to mold spores, caused them to relocate.

We walked around the property with Chip as he tenderly told the story of each building, the memories, the triumphs and heart aches. We picked and ate fresh blueberries, cherries, and huckleberries. We parked the van in a field of camomile and made this lovely piece of heaven our home.

Tall Trees, Deserts and Quiet rivers

We’ve made it to Oregon (June 2021). We’ve been back on the road full time for two weeks. We’ve meandered across Idaho’s western side, checking out the sights we never had the time to experience. We had just come back to Salt Lake City to do some business, get our COVID shots and see some friends and family.

I am really torn between wanting to go back to Salt Lake. I really miss the physical presence of my friends and family. During COVID, it was hard to be distant, but the thought that, what if I caused a friends death or illness, always lurked in the back of my mind. Leaving Salt Lake a year ago, that first month or two, ripped my heart out, not being able to have a party, to give everyone a hug and even go to a communal campfire. Let’s just face it I love to be held and to hold, to share stories of the road and a beer.

Sorry for the ramble…

I don’t know if there is a right way or a wrong way to “become a vagabond” a “wanderer”, part of the allure is living off the clock. I know I’ve said it before, but not having a set schedule is more conducive to my mental state. The lack of deadline stresses, fear of letting someone down, rush, rush, rush… now we pick a direction and head that way.

We have maps and Apps, books and sometimes cell phone service, these all act as guides, but we now have the time to explore that dirt road to “somewhere?”… stop and take a nap when we are tired. If we see a hot spring or lake on the map, we may make that our destination for the day, which may turn into two, three or even a week…or it may be a bust.

What drives us to pick a place and stay? I was asked this question by more than one of our followers. Trash, weather, bugs, sound, people, cost, and access to water are all deciding factors. Of course we have to be able to access it with our van and trailer as well. We are 11’ tall, 8’ wide and 35’ long (but we bend in the middle). At times we seek out the most remote area we can find and have to get out our mountain bikes to check out the road and clearances, as well as someplace to turn around. It sucks backing up a 1/4 mile with a trailer. Good news though, Chris is learning how to back up a trailer!

We look for silence that is deafening, bird song, the sound of water, open space, tall, LIVE, trees in the mountains, shade in the desert, access to water, and a sense of safety and security.

What drives us out of a spot…even after picking the perfect spot…bugs, gun shots, people, noise, weather and other factors beyond our control. These things often come up after a night or are noticeable within hours.

We both crave silence. Normal nature sounds are welcome. You can hear yourself think. We perform our daily duties like a well oiled machine and most things are done without the need to speak. On the other hand, we have meaningful dialogue when off grid.

I will often get immersed into the nature that surrounds us. It is a means of creativity, an inspiration to dream. The life of a wanderer is never lost… perhaps temporarily delayed or caught trying to find the next shiny object.

It’s raining and we are confined to the van for a bit. The thunder and raindrops make us feel like we are playing tent. It makes us feel alive! The rain on the roof of the van, the smell of wet earth, the crackle of a campfire…the birds all vying for the loudest call, and being able to identify the bird by its call. The desert and spring time flowers. The landscape so beautiful I wrestle with the words to describe its grandeur. The sound of the winds. Each of these seeps into your soul until a city becomes a strange land of traffic and sounds, rushing people, such that you wish to do your business and move along.

Our world has changed in so many ways. Our lives are slower and more meaningful. Our demons hide from the joy of living! Living like pioneers on the way to the next new land or adventure.

6/15/21

Repositioning

Life on the road is no cake walk. Compromise, silence and space, solitude and good old Mother Nature. A tough re-entry into the world of civilization and then back to our happy place.

Leaving the back roads and beaches of Mexico was… in itself…hard. It was in essence the hot and humid weather and the need for COVID-19 shots, that drove us back to Utah. We have been officially off the “road/van life” for a month now. We have been doing service projects for friends and family and van fixes …including one very inconvenient tow, all month. May 2021, has been Service Month… literally.

We have helped with a remodeling project.

We helped recondition and sell a speed/ski boat.

Assisted a great, close friend to buy a new car. Helped our sister and brother-in-law get a good deal on two great eBikes and of course, we both got our vaccinations for COVID-19.

The spread of COVID-19 has slowed in the US. People are being vaccinated. We spent more money than our normal monthly budget for unexpected van repairs, spent a few nights in long stay hotels, and had to give up the van twice for two different repairs, one, after a minor mishap with the trailer.

My body has decomposed in this month, it’s shed thick calluses off my feet, lost at least half of its once healthy glow, my sinuses blazing with rivers of snot from seasonal allergies, lungs full of said rivers. My mind has shut down as things around me change, and I’ve all but shaved my head.

The routine has changed from outdoor living in peace and solitude, a primordial existence with Mother Nature, to City life. Now, four hard walls with a shingled roof, flush toilets and showers on demand with plenty of hot water, shelter us.

We ran to Kara’s house, loaded up the Hyside raft we sold, the IK we sold, the oar frame on the new roof rails, everything else suspended from the ceiling of the trailer. All the toys in one heavy ass trailer. It sucked the gas mileage from North Salt Lake, UT to Twin Falls, ID to under 9mpg… keeping it at an avg. of 68 mph. SUCK…

I drove the whole way with gusty tail winds, strong head winds and strong sideways burst…nuts! The Memorial Day holiday traffic is evident, from seeing 3 crashes south bound in Utah, to plenty of slow traffic driving north. We listened to an ebook talking about how US drivers fall asleep or just plain old don’t pay attention because our straight roads are hypnotic.

Nothing in the outdoor recreation world has changed since COVID-19. The prices of the recreational equipment, led by the demand and short supply, is up by thousands over retail value. That’s what has lead us to the west side of Idaho, a place we’ve yet to experience. Once we offload the extra weight we will head back to the Northern mountains of Idaho to decompress… as has become our norm… 3 days of mostly silence between talks of destinations and a sorta plan… at least a direction. Time is of no urgency unless a set destination is planned.

We spent the first night at a Harvest Host golf course right on the Snake River and a beautiful river gorge.

The silence is welcome. All 3 of us, Gandaulf included, need to hear nothing but the wind, river, birds, crickets, our own breath and heart beat. Until the controlling and aggressive “city personalities”…calm down and a synchronicity of calmness and kindness resumes… this is how the re-entry, repositioning, has been. Sometimes you just need a little space. Doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. I can fight it or move through it, it’s always a choice, and 15-30 minutes of uncomfortability in a day… doesn’t ruin the whole day.

Not For The Faint of Heart

It was an early morning. I tried to sleep a little longer but the thoughts of the days activities wouldn’t play along. I woke up and said a prayer to the day and got out of bed. I looked at myself in the mirror. I felt a wave come over me of joyousness and acceptance of the path I am about to commit to.

It’s been a year of practice. A year of searching, changing and forgiveness of myself and others. Only one time before in my life have I ever felt this amount of calm spiritual contentment. I have learned to listen even if I disagreed. I have learned to find peace with myself. I have embraced loving kindness and compassion for myself and others. I am about to make a lifetime commitment to being the best person I can be not only for myself but others. To become selfless and accepting. It is my day to take refuge in the three jewels…the Buddha, Dharma and the sangha until my mind is awakened to the emptiness of calm abiding. What a magic moment.

The teacher explained the weight of this commitment and asked if we were sure that this

Path, this yearning to learn the dharma and follow its teachings, and to support the like minded sangha. We all confirmed. I now can join the ranks of the Buddhists working in the shadows for the benefit of all beings.

My heart and my inner most being has always been about surviving from day to day from a dark cloud that always has hung heavy over me. This practice has allowed me to find ways within to move past that dark place and reawaken a little girl in a way grown up body. To comfort and love her again. To be a more affirmative and positive person. Maybe I am a bit loud and brash but the heart is soft and has more love than a person deserves. Enough to spread the wealth and enjoy the journey.

The Child and The Noisy Forest: The Story of Cicadas

One morning a child woke from a peaceful dream, the forest was buzzing like nothing she had heard before. She swung her legs over the side of her hammock and looked around.

Everything looked the same…

She took a deep breath, following the air, identifying the smells…no nothing different.

She listened as the trees seemed to vibrate and hum a foreign sound.

The animals of the forest and streams became frightened. Squirrel ran to the sleeping place of the human child. Darting here and there, all in a tussle, Squirrel could hear nothing but the insistent buzzing of forest trees. It was driving him mad. “Please make it stop,” complained Squirrel to the child.

In just the most perfect squirrel talk the child promised to look into this strange occurrence of sound.

She packed just the right amount of food for a child her size and pulled a wicker pack she made out of a hole in the tree she called ‘home.’

She went in search of the black and white Magpie.

As she remembered a dream she had once about a caterpillar that turned into a beautiful flying creature. She remembered the cave paintings in her dreams. Perhaps it is this phenomenon that is causing the sound.

The Magpie appeared with a blue settler jay and they sat high on a perch in a lovely oak tree.

“What can we do for you today child?”

She went in to explain her dream and the buzzing in the trees. None of her friends had heard this sound. “I supposed since you eat in the trees you might know,” quizzed the child.

They had seen no caterpillar cocoons and only a strange hollow casing of an alien being, half mantis and half beetle.

The child was puzzled and quarried the two further, “Who else can know the answer to this?”

There is a fable told of a curse placed on an ancient beast. It would devour entire forests in a weeks time, leaving no shade for the baby birds. Huge trees died and grasses were stripped next.

The Jay said that only Mother could answer this question since it was long before their lives. The child thanked them and they flew off.

The child went to her favorite place to sit in quiet meditation. She asked for The Mother’s help. A day passed and she dreamed of walking through a canyon playing a flute. Above her was a hawk gliding on the currents. Soon her flute became the cry of the hawk and she saw through its eyes.

Many hundreds of moons ago, a witch came to the land and was made a deal by a prince. The lands were being ravaged by an ancient dragon that would consume the fields and forests. The animals called on the Witch to slay the ancient dragon. They paid a fair price for the spell and went on with their lives.

The witch found the dragons favorite watering hole and lay in waite. Sometime after the setting of the moon, in the inky blackness of night, the dragon appeared.

The witch had poured a potion into the water and the dragon soon froze in place.

The dragon asked the witch kindly to forgive its hunger and if it could, it would eat much less. The witch smiled and spoke a spell that caused the dragon to remain dormant for up to 15 years. The dragon was not happy and lashed out and the witch turned it into a small insect, and it would be imprisoned underground, only to emerge every 15 years.

The hawk released the child and she heard only her flute again echoing in the canyon.

She woke from this dream and ran quickly to the meeting place by the big lagoon. She explained her talk with the magpie and jay, her dream and the hawk.

The fear slowly faded from everyone’s minds. The sound of the creature under such a spell should be enjoyed.

Eventually one day a cold air blew from the north and the buzzing stopped.

Everyone settled in for the coming of the colored leaves.

The Child and the Coyote: Solar Eclipse

It was a beautiful end to a perfect day.

The animals of the forest, mountains and deserts all settled into their dens for the night.

A small child wandered through the forest, to the edge of the lagoon, and curled up under her favorite palm tree and fell fast asleep.

She dreamed of flowers and butterflies… soft clouds and warm sunshine…

In the morning she woke to the silent lapping of the waves on the shoreline, but something was missing.

The child looked around in darkness.

Where is the sun? Why is it not rising from the lagoon?

The animals of the forest were just as confused.

All the flowers stayed tightly closed, waiting for the sun to rise so they could show off their beautiful colors.

The animals ran around in circles, bumping into trees, and tripping on rocks.

The sky stayed dark.

The small child knew something was terribly wrong.

She sat at the edge of the forest and lagoon, unable to see in the inky blackness.

She called out for anyone who could see to help her.

She peered into the blackness but she heard nothing.

She felt a slight brush against her arm and turned to see the bright eyes of the wise old owl.

“My child,” he said, “how can I help?”

“Wise owl… something has happened to the sun,” she exclaimed. “My friends are unable to see and we must do something!”

“Let me see what I can do,” said the wise old owl and he flew off.

He flew to the den of the mountain lion.

The mountain lion had already seen the situation and the confusion of his family in the forest.

“We need your help to bring back the light to the forest,” the owl said.

The mountain lion had dreamed of this day and told the owl of his dream.

“It is the coyote,” the mountain lion explained.

“I have seen his game in my dream. He is up to being a trickster again. We must find a way to distract him. He has taken the moon and covered the sun. This was my dream,” the Mountain lion confided.

The owl and the lion used their extraordinary sight in the dark and went to the highest point in the forest.

All the animals listened carefully to the mountain lion.

When he was done speaking the coyote laughed out loud, giving away his hiding place, the trickster was had!

The birds, having special powers to fly in the darkness, honed in on the laughter and flew after the coyote.

The coyote, hearing the birds coming ran away in fear. His power fading as he ran.

All at once the moon began to slide away from the sun and the animals of the forest, streams, oceans and sky rejoiced.

The child was happy her friends could see again.

The owl, mountain lion and child made a plan… everyday the birds would find the coyote, surround him and sing loudly, confusing the coyote so he never again could steal the sun.

The Child and the Rainbow Paintbrush: A Creation Story

One night, in the land of whimsy and magic, a small child had the most marvelous dream.

The animals and small creatures of the forest and fields came to her.

The little child listened as they explained, in only language she could understand.

The small birds chirped wildly and the bees buzzed in swarms…even the small snails, ants and geckos had something to say.

It seemed the world was missing something very important and she listened with deep concern only a child could have.

She promised she would try to find a solution and went searching high and low.

Finally she came to a big tree… it was so tall she couldn’t see the top so she began to climb.

She tried not to be afraid as she got higher and higher.

All at once she heard a small voice…it was a spider hanging from her back legs on a silken thread.

“What brings you so high into my tree young one,” the spider asked.

The child answered, “I am looking for an answer to the small animals and insects of my small forest.”

The spider pondered and said to the child, “I know someone who can help, but you must continue to climb up my tree past the clouds and into the heavens.

The child looked up and was frightened but summoned up all her courage, fueled by her love for all her small friends, and with the help of the spider, began to climb higher and higher.

Finally, after a long time climbing, she cleared the clouds and looked around.

The sky above the tree was colorless and was blinding.

She could hear the swoosh of a birds wings coming closer and her eyes adjusted in time to see a huge hawk as it landed beside her in the tree.

The spider and the child told the story to the hawk, of her search for something for her friends, the small birds and insects of the forest.

The hawk told the child to climb on its back and she did, without hesitation, and the hawk spread his wings and flew off.

He knew the only one who could solve such a problem and he headed straight up and into the blank sky.

The child felt the power and protection of the hawk and fell to sleep, nestled in his broad neck feathers and dreamed a dream inside her dream.

The hawk came to rest on a tall mountain top, high above the clouds of the world below.

The child slowly was helped down and told to go into the cave that sparkled like a star, so she went off along a rocky trail until she saw it…

A cave so beautiful it sparkled like the night sky full of twinkling stars. The child couldn’t believe her eyes.

In the cave sat a small woman on a blanket of white buffalo hide, her eyes twinkled with a loving energy and his hair was as white as snow. She looked up softly smiling at the small child.

She walked over and the woman held out her hand and the child put her tiny hand in hers.

“What a small child to be carrying such a huge burden for your small animal friends,” the woman spoke in a quiet, even voice. “The love in your heart and the purity of that love has brought you to me, I am pleased.”

The small child was amazed the woman knew of her journey and her desire to help the small creatures of the forest. The child smiled.

The woman told the child to sit beside her and they would think together. All of a sudden rainbows began to emanate from the cave walls and circled the two.

The woman took a paintbrush from her cloak and captured the rainbows. She handed the brush to the child.

Next she waved her hands in the air and the sweetest smell filled the cave and she reached in her sleeve and pulled out a jar and captured the sweetness in the bottle and tightly closed the lid. She handed the jar to the child.

The child looked up at the small woman standing now before her. She reached out and touched her cloak and she spoke in a soft voice, “take these and go back to the forest and seek out the spider, she has the power to create and will need to instruct you on how to use these to help your tiny friends,” and in a burst of golden light she disappeared.

The child looked at the paintbrush and the bottle with wonder and returned to the hawk who quickly took flight.

Returning to the tree top, the small child thanked the hawk and he spread his broad wings and flew into the empty sky.

A small voice woke the child from her dream. Was anything the child remembered real? She put her hand in her bag there they were, the paintbrush and the jar.

“Oh spider, I am so glad you waited,” said the child.

The child told the spider the dream she thought she had but here were the items the small woman gave to her.

The spider laughed, “oh small human, you have met The Great Spirit Guru, she is the creator of all things, even you. Allow me to show you how to solve your problem,” and with that, the spider took the paintbrush and thought hard as she used the paintbrush to paint the sky blue and added a few white clouds.

The child watched in wonderment as the emptiness was transformed into a beautiful sky. She took the brush, and following the spiders instruction, thought hard and painted a brilliant sun. She giggled with delight.

The spider then helped the child back to the earth and she wandered back to her small forest.

She walked over to a green bush and with the paintbrush, painted a small object on it, then took the jar and poured out some of the sweet smell. She repeated this over and over again on trees, bushes and vines.

“I have been to see The Creator of us all,” said the child to her small animal friends. “The spider and hawk helped me to find the answer by taking me to her cave.”

The small animals, birds and insects circled the child and watched as she took out the paintbrush and thought hard, the answer came to her, like in her dream.

The small animals, birds and insects of the forest watched for days and days as the child worked.

She finished late in June, the time of the long, hot days.

The sweet smell of these beautiful things she created fill the air and the bees and birds were instantly drawn to them. Each was filled with nectar for the birds and pollen for the bees. Other small animals also delighted in this new thing.

One night, all the animals gathered around the small child in celebration and gazed up into the night sky.

The hawk and spider joined in the celebration.

The animals, birds and insects, all fulfilled, asked the child what was this life giving sweet thing she created?

The child looked to the spider for a creative name…

“I will call it a flower,” answered the child, after long deep thought.

Awake

The warmth of the sun

Thaws my frozen heart to the splendor of the spring

The birds sing wildly

Searching for a mate

My bare skin…Bronzed from this life giving source

A stirring deep inside

Beckons me to be free

Love returns to my weary soul

A calmness of immense silence settles in

The day has begun

Welcome to my morning

Baja Easter Emptiness

I awoke today, not sure if I was hot or cold, half under the pile of comfy covers, pillows cradling my head. I laid still with my eyes closed, listening to the cactus wrens calling back and forth. There’s a heavy smell of dew in the air which makes the dust layer smell sweet, like fresh dug dirt. The fans that keep us comfortable all night, are still whirring silently in the background. Gandaulf rustles and turns over with a huge sigh. It’s morning in El Pescadero, Baja California Sur.

I sit up, rub my eyes, and peel off the layers of blankets, fluff my pillows and sit bleary eyed for a second before the alarm goes off. It’s Easter Sunday and the washboard road below camp is strangely quiet. The sun is now high in the morning sky which reveals the dark shadows of the marine layer clinging to the shoreline, obscuring the wave break. The sky above is clear blue and hurries the fog away with the help of the blazing sun. It’s gonna be a hot, humid day.

Gandaulf greets me with a smile, kisses and flops over for belly rubs, then bounds across the bed and onto the cabinet, waiting patiently to be set down on the floor. The door is flung open and out hops Gandaulf and in floods the damp morning air.

The humidity immediately makes my bare skin feel damp and clammy. I take a deep breath and welcome the day.

I can smell the coffee wafting through the heavy morning air. Just the smell energizes my senses. I pull on some loose fitting clothes, since everything is damp, and step into the sun. There is no mistaking that we are closer to the equatorial sun. My bare skin feels the intense heat and I quickly retreat to shade. Chris and Gandaulf are nowhere to be seen so I stare off into nothingness and I drift away.

I begin daydreaming. This last month has been an exploratory journey for us. Why we ever feared crossing the border is beyond me. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown, the language barrier, if I am honest…it was just plain fear. Fear of what, I now ask myself, having reached the southern tip of Baja without any major incidents.

In all my wildest dreams, I never thought the day would come when I could escape the cold, follow the sun, be a free spirit and not worry about ‘what’s next?’ I feel that I deserve this slice of peaceful life. A full life…full of new experiences, new friends, new places, new joy and triumph over anything I allowed to hold me back.

I look at our tiny home and feel a sense of pride. It has been our home for ten months. Our blood, sweat and tears poured into this metal shell. It’s everything we have…it’s all we need, beside each other.

Talk today is of a bike ride to the beach. The roads are dusty and extremely washboarded. The temperature is forecast for 79 degrees, typical breezy afternoon and humidity hanging around 50%, a beautiful day for beach exploring. It’s Easter Sunday and we are hoping the locals will stay home.

The southern coastal beaches of Baja are mostly devoid of shells. The waves line up in sets of three, breaking in rolling tubes of froth and foam. The thunderous crashing waves draw the brave and foolish to tempt their fate riding these angry tubes of water on surfboards. It makes for an engaging hour of fun to just observe their antics.

We are now in the middle of Samanto Santos or Holy Week. It is similar to Spring Break. This year, COVID still holds a tight grip on the country, so the Federal government put out guidelines to help quell the outbreak due to hordes of partiers and beach goers. They have closed beaches to camping, limited the capacity and close them at 7:00 pm. It’s just strange to see ample space to walk around the small pods of families and friends claiming their personal space. The sound of Mexican polka music hangs on the air, pumped from huge speakers brought to the beach. The atmosphere is light and jovial.

We find a small patch of sand, at the edge of the tide line, and sit down to be silent observers of the surf, screaming and laughing children running up and down the beach as the wave rolls in. Body surfers being ground into the beach as the wave unleashes on top of them. Dogs dancing with the water, bounding in gazelle-like leaps, barking wildly with joy.

I soon find myself lost in the emptiness of the vast ocean and sky, each blending into the other in the deepest blue imaginable. I am at rest, calm, at peace with all around me. I can feel the fury of the waves, the intensity of the sun, and the endlessness of the cloudless sky. I begin to float and feel weightless, a oneness with the vibrant energy surrounding my empty shell, as my awareness is freed from the constraints of my body. I drift in a state of primal awareness, energized by the enormity of this space. A movement across the waves returns me to the beach. I watch as a pelican glides along, inches from the waves, never breaking the surface of the water. I grab a handful of warm sand, dig my toes in and release an audible sigh.

The Child and the Seagull’s Lesson

One day, sitting on the soft sand beach, minding her own business making dribble castles in the sand, a small child saw a seagull trying to open up a big snail shell.

“What are you doing “, kindly asked the little girl.

The creator has played a trick on us. “He’s given us these succulent snails…one would feed me and my family. I just can’t figure out how to break these tough shells.

The child thought, “I’ve used sticks and other sharp things,” she said.

“Great for you,” he squawked, in only the way a seagull can. “You have hands and are strong.”

The child thought again.

Hours seemed to pass and the two sat on the edge of the beach and thought hard together.

They stopped the pelican as he flew by, “do you know how the seagull can enjoy these delicious snails?”

The pelican laughed and explained he ate only fish and dropped down on them from very high in the sky.

Next they stopped the osprey…he explained he also only ate fish and spotted them from high in the sky, then would dive straight into the water. He flew off being of no help to the child or seagull.

Soon an otter came swimming by tangled up in the seaweed and rolling around a couple of rocks.

“Oh Otter of the sea, how do you break open the clams and spiny urchins you enjoy?”

The otter playfully answered, “why with rocks of course.”

The three of them sat down on a gigantic rock and starring into the sky and at the drifting clouds.

All at once a raven flew by and saw the three.

“What seems to be the problem?” he quizzed the three.

The child explained the raven the seagull’s dilemma.

The raven laughed out load, “that’s a simple problem to solve,” as he flew high into the sky with the snail.

The seagull got angry and was about to fly after him when he let go of the snail.

It fell to the rocky shore with a loud crack!

The raven flew back and asked the seagull what he was waiting for.

The four of them went over to where the snail had fallen and there before them…was the snail cracked wide open.

The child giggled.

Between all the birds and the otter, the raven had used a bit from them all.

The seagull gathered up all the snails it could find before the tide came in.

The otter swam deep into the kelp and brought a tasty bunch of clams.

The raven brought an ear of corn.

The child starred with delight at this huge feast.

All her new animal friends shared in the feast and all nestled down and fell fast asleep.

In the morning, the child woke to the otter cradling her in her arms.

The child thanked the otter and wandered back into the woods.

JA 2021