Saturday, August 31, 2013

In Dutch Bill Creek

The creek is dry at the end of August.

I am laying on the cool, streambed gravel.  In the cottage, Madi and Diana are house cleaning - I can hear their music faintly.  They are happy, and I hear one of them singing along with the radio.  Each shift of my weight delves my contours deeper into the contours of the stones. Slowly creating a perfect, me-shaped vacuum to fill.  I am gazing up through the quivering leaves of California bay laurel - and above it to the gray-green towers of redwoods. The intoxicating aroma of the bay laurel is riding down the meandering watercourse.  A sprig of wild mint in my breast pocket vies.  A crow croaks and a vulture cruises the blue above the redwoods' ragged crowns.  I can tell it is hot out there, but here in the stones where the breeze flows all is cool.

In the car, riding from San Francisco up to the Russian river, I'd been talking with Diana about spirituality and paganism and how I had been turned away by California New-Ageism - corrupted as it is by a kind of weak-minded anti-materialist consumerism -- and how I hadn't found my coven among the Rhode Island Unitarians.

But on the gravel, in the perfume of bay laurel, redwood and mint, in the thick, flickering green light of August afternoon, in a haze of natural pleasure I find myself in Church, with no need for a coven or for a fellow congregant - unless it be a doe or a lizard or a satiated mink.

Eventually, I rise and return to my friends.

Delivering Porter

photo: Cate School
On Tuesday we delivered Porter to the Cate School for 10th grade.  Anna and Alberto met us there with the luggage we'd left with them during our travels to the Sierras.  The Cate seniors come a day earlier and are there to help each student with getting oriented, hauling bags, etc.  The returning sophomores and juniors arrive the day after.

We all helped Porter move into his room.  It's small, but comfortable -- wood paneling and french doors that open onto a small balcony.  And battered enough to feel comfortable in -- including scars that showed where a former student may have been throwing shuriken against the walls and a spot where the phrase "butt cheeks" had been carved into the wood.  "A testament to the maturity of Cate students," as one of the returning students remarked.

The Cate students, the faculty and staff are a likeable crew.  And Porter, despite a bit of nervousness showing through in the past few days - was clearly ready to get himself involved in it.

It's a pretty school -- sitting along citrus and avocado groves upon a mesa -- above the beach town of Carpinteria and below the Santa Inez mountains which rise above it in chaparral-draped stone.

The headmaster charmed with his stories, the admissions director gave her pep talk, the faculty introduced themselves.  We met teachers and advisors and other parents.  As they said, you are not losing a kid, so much as gaining a whole set of allies in raising him.  We'll see.  I think it will be a good thing.

Porter's crew
the abuelo, Alberto
Porter on his balcony