You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘redwoods’ tag.

After a couple of weeks of fun in California, we ended up near Waldport on the Oregon coast where we spent a few relaxing days on a sunny sand-swept beach with my sister Maggie, brother-in-law Tom, and our friends Ken and Noreen. From there I’ve come to the Cascade Mountains near the Columbia River valley in west central Washington State where my sister lives.  I’ve been visiting these parts for close to thirty-five years, since Mag and I came to pick pears and apples in 1976 when she ended up pairing up with apple-picking Tom and stayed.

This blog left off with Laurie and I rain-soaked in northern California. Being in those redwood groves was a blessing, especially in the sacred old-growth forest of the Jedediah/Smith River area. I have wandered in many forests of various types, but there is something about walking through those woody mammoths’ legs – so still, so serene – that is prehistoric, primal, and increasingly precious.

We watched the waters of the Smith River (the last of the undammed salmon rivers on the west coast) rise in the endless downpour and had our plans to go on a longer hike or follow the shoreline wash away. We didn’t mind though, as we were happy to see that moisture after experiencing the drought-like conditions in the rest of California.

We spent a few days in sunny but chilly Arcata in Humboldt County, home of redwoods resistance and activism. It was our base camp for Laurie’s work and my book talks. We stayed in another VRBO house with a view of a young redwood stand on the hill behind us, a lone palm tree poking above the domestic northern trees (waving at me, I’m sure), and a wealth of wisteria in full purple regalia all around the house.

At my Strawberry Creek Friends talk a few days earlier I met a wonderful woman named Carol Mosher. She helped to arrange a book talk in Arcata and also did some networking for my talk that was coming up at San Francisco Friends Meeting the following week.  When you are counting on the assistance and generosity of others to promote your book, it is a gift when a stranger reaches out and makes suggestions and follows through, doing whatever they can to help you make connections. Carol was one of these people, no longer a stranger, now a friend.

As we went from task to task, Laurie and I had a super road trip through north western California. We called in on her friends in Mendecino County – great people, great stories, great dogs – especially the black dot dog, which hogged every picture and was keen to join us on the Walking with Wolf tour.

We went down to what we thought was the Mendecino blow hole (highly recommended by a woman in Monteverde), but upon further discussion, I think there may be more than one and we weren’t at “The” Mendecino Blow Hole. But true to the name, I just about got blown off the cliffs. Except for when we were protected at the base of those big redwoods, we spent a lot of time in heavy winds on the Pacific coast.

I spent a night with a couple, Kate and Lars Larsen, who I had never formally met before, but they graciously hosted me in their home in Fort Bragg. They had a number of Friends over for a potluck and to listen to the Wolf story. Kate and Lars were super hosts and full of questions about Monteverde where they had spent a year back in the late 90s and many vacations since. The community had embraced them and they are anxious to return. Once again, I was overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness – and also really enjoyed reminiscing and laughing with them. Lovely folks.

I also did a talk in Arcata for another family of ex-Monteverdians. Andrea Armin and her daughter Rose hosted a potluck gathering of Friends. Once again I received a warm reception. I know that all those beautiful photos, along with getting updates and email addresses for old friends in Monteverde, was enough to push Andrea and especially Rose into planning their return. You can take the person out of Monteverde, but you can’t take Monteverde…well, you know the rest.

The other talk I did was in downtown San Francisco for the Quaker meeting there. I was assisted in the organizing there by Rolene Walker who has just completed a walk for peace and the environment from San Francisco through Central and South America to Chile.  Her dedication and spirit is admirable – her blog is at  – http://www.walkwithearth.org/ – she is writing a book about her experiences which I look forward to reading. 

At the San Fran meeting, I had the pleasure of talking to John Standing, a second cousin of Lucky Guindon’s. I’ve found that at any given talk there are usually people who have lived in Monteverde and often those who are related to someone in Monteverde. It gives me the chance to listen to more stories and share some that I already know.

A familiar face came into the room while I was talking – it was a man I had met a few days earlier, Dennis, a good friend and colleague of Laurie’s. He didn’t know I’d be there, and I didn’t know he’d arrive to lead a meeting in the same building, but in that big Bay Area, it was nice to recognize someone when they came in the door. I was especially proud of myself that I remembered his name!

To accomplish all my plans, it entailed a couple of days of serious driving on my own. Luckily, the weather was beautiful, the roads weren’t busy, the scenery was stunning. I drove Highway 20 out of Fort Bragg very early in the morning and caught the fog rising around each corner, unveiling the vistas across the forested valleys.

I passed the vineyards and orchards, quaint old wood buildings and split rail fences with a reddish tinge, awe-inspiring scenes around each corner.

I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge – twice! – observing that there were almost more pedestrians than cars – and through downtown San Francisco, but it was Sunday and not too bad for traffic at all. I was quickly back out in the country and headed back to Arcata, Laurie and the big trees, kept safe by a guardian angel.

We hunkered down in the log cabin on the Smith River, warm by the fireplace while listening to the rain fall, discussing academia, activism, and relationships.

As we made our way north to Oregon, we met up with a number of street people – highway people actually. California proved to be a land of sharp contrasts and great diversity.

And then we were in Oregon. Driving up Highway 1 along the coast, I was appalled at the industrial landscape – the hills were all in various stages of clear-cuts – from recently slashed to twenty-year-old or more tree plantations. The Pacific Ocean rolled wildly to the west as we became aware of the lack of wilderness to the east, mostly barren or replanted rolling hills with the souls of lost forests hovering. Scotch broom, an aggressive invasive plant thriving in disturbed areas, was covering the roadsides, choking the fir trees and spreading throughout the clear cuts, even heading into the sand dunes. Because the plant was in full flower, with bright yellow pea-like blooms, it was possible to see how far it had spread. There was very little natural looking about the landscape of southern Oregon, until we got north of the Eugene highway where the forests seemed to have been either left alone or not logged recently.

Three days passed quickly on the beach. The weather changed as regularly as the hour, allowing us some time outside in the sunshine or around a campfire at night between bursts of rain and howling winds.

We were in a house located right at the mouth of the river and each day we could watch a large herd of harbour seals sunning on the shore. However nature isn’t always fun and games.

One morning we realized that there was a baby seal that had come ashore right in front of the house, separated from its mother and left by the receding tide. When I noticed a raven starting to peck at the injured yet alive seal pup, I took up my post for about three hours and kept the seal safe from the eagles, ravens, gulls and vultures, hoping it would return to sea with the high tide and rejoin its mother.

Unfortunately the seal didn’t survive, but nor was it pecked to death. At one point, a bizarre looking sea lion walked out of the sea onto the beach, its nose in the air, heading towards the dying seal pup. It then stopped and lay down, halfway to the corpse. Not long after, another sea lion came out of the sea and seemed to catch its attention, beckoning it back into the water. We watched fascinated as the sea lion turned around, perhaps disappointed, and walked back into the waves. Between the seals, sea lions, osprey, and other birds, there was never a shortage of entertainment on the beach

It is nice to have some time to spend with my sister and brother-in-law. Laurie stayed for a day on the coast and then had to carry on with her own work. We had a great time together and I know that I saw a part of California that I wouldn’t have found on my own.

It was also super to spend some time with our old friends Ken and Noreen who now live in Eugene. After the beach, we went to their home for a couple of days, where I spoke to the Eugene Friends.

I’ve got a few weeks here with Maggie and Tom, picking morels, visiting friends and doing a couple of book events, wandering in the mountains and seeing some more of the beautiful west coast before heading inland – way inland – and home.

One of the best things about traveling is putting places into perspective. I love maps and can decipher them easily, but even with that visual understanding, it isn’t until you go to a place that you finally understand the lay of the land. This trip to California has finally given me a real sense of where places are in the Sunshine State and how they are related to each other.

I came up from LA to the Bay Area for a number of reasons. One was to visit Wolf’s son, Tomás, and meet his wife Gretchen and his children Julian and Olivia. I last saw Tomás in St. Louis Missouri back in 2003 when Wolf received the Conservation Action Prize for his life time of work protecting the Monteverde forest.

Tomás remarried and moved to California in the late 90s and with Gretchen they’ve had two beautiful children to add to the Guindon clan. It was wonderful to spend a couple of days with them. They gave me a great tour of the area and treated me to some delicious pizza from The Cheeseboard in Berkeley – where they only make one kind of pizza a day but it is always delicious – and some great Mexican from the Cactus Taqueria near them in Oakland. Was delicious Mexican food – apparently they use local fresh ingredients – and their spicing was a stretch beyond the norm.  How happy am I to be in the land of fine eateries.

They live in the Oakland Hills where Gretchen grew up. She had great stories of the place including her memories of the Oakland Firestorm of 1991 that destroyed 4000 homes and killed 25 people. Some of her extended family’s homes survived – they now live in one of these. Rebuilding the city brought in new architecture and just around the corner there is a simple yet unique house built by Bernard Maybeck. I was impressed with its design and also the fact it is only 1400 square feet though it has the presence of a mansion.

We went over to the Bay Area Discovery Museum near the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. In my short time in the Bay Area, I managed to see the bridge from half a dozen different angles – it is a real sentinel in the bay. I will be returning to San Francisco in a few days and will drive back and forth over that bridge. If I have seen no other iconic landmark on this trip, I’ll have seen the Golden Gate Bridge plenty.

      

At the Discovery Museum, we went to a kiddies’ concert by a very enjoyable songwriter and performer named Francis England. With her band, she was lively for the children, the songs were rockin’ and the lyrics were soft and sweet and smart.

I really enjoyed this concert – the audience of mostly under 6’s (and their parents) was as enthusiastic as the Brazilians at the Caetano Veloso concert in LA last week. I’m good with all kinds of music and tend to pick up on the excitement of others and thus enjoy new music even more – which was easy to do with these kids (and their folks) all singing and shouting and dancing along.

Gretchen told me that Olivia is known for taking serious looking photos, but I managed to get a few great shots of her laughing. I always bond quickly with dogs and cats, but kids can be tricky. Some are reticent to be friends too fast – if they are in their ‘making strange’ phase – but by the time I left, little Olivia was letting me spend time alone with her, for a few minutes anyway, lower lip quivering but no actual tears.

Her big brother Julian had so much fun in the children’s playground at the museum that he had a real hard time leaving – but don’t we all know that sooner or later, no matter how much fun we are having, we usually have to leave and go home. This was a great playground of wooden pirate ships and musical instruments and sea creatures floating in shallow waterways so it was a lot of magic for one little guy to have to resist.

The other reason I came to the Bay area was to begin the official Walking with Wolf takes the West Coast tour. The whole family went with me on Sunday to the Strawberry Creek Friends meeting. Held in a rented room at an academy close to downtown Berkeley, it is a fairly large meeting and apparently one popular with activists. It was suggested by my friend Roberta Llewellyn that I arrange to talk at this meeting as the Friends here would be very interested in the work done in Monteverde. Thanks to Roberta’s contacts and promotion, I had a wonderful time presenting the story, sold a number of books and met a nice bunch of people, many with their own stories about Monteverde and Wolf. If I haven’t said this enough times in this blog so far, the side benefit of the book is the opportunity to go out and meet people, particularly Friends. They give me hope for the future. I can only imagine how many tales of wisdom and activism were represented there that day. Thank you Roberta and Strawberry Creek Meeting for that warm reception (and Dick Strong who provided the projector).

Sunday afternoon I hooked up with Laurie Hollis-Walker who came down from Grimsby, Ontario to join me in a roadtrip through the redwoods to northern California. This is a dream come true. I’ve wanted to know these beautiful large sisters of the forest forever, linger in their shadow, spread my arms wide to embrace them. Laurie is working on her PhD in Psychology, interviewing the activists from the late 80s and 90s, delving deeply into what makes activists commit their lives to the well-being of the earth and how they survive the traumas that come with active participation in the process. It is an honour to meet these passionate souls who barricaded and blockaded, supported and spread the word, lived in trees and held out against the corporation that wanted to come in and liquidate the forest.

Laurie managed to find the time to come to California at the same time as I was going to be here to conduct her own work and we are headed north to the Lost Coast and Arcata and Smith River as well as a number of other hot spots in the story of the Redwoods. She will take me to visit some of the colourful individuals she has been working with, as well as to meet as many of her “friends”, the tall trees, as possible. For my part, I’m keeping track of how far north the palm trees go.

We had a day to pass in the city first though, as Laurie had to meet with an associate while in Berkeley. I went by BART (rapid transit) into the downtown core of San Francisco to visit a couple of thrift stores, needing more warm clothes then I had with me for the occasion. And I wanted a funky thing or two as a souvenir of San Francisco. The Goodwill store  on Geary near Hyde satisfied my cravings.

I headed out by city bus to the western shore of the city to see Punta Lobos. The windblown trees, the eroding cliffs, the blustery sea and the Golden Gate Bridge, once again in the background, were a sharp contrast to the rolling hills, street people, and big ol’ buildings in the downtown of the city. It was my first taste of being around big trees, though here they were windswept like the trees in the elfin cloud forest above Monteverde.

I did get a sense of how big San Francisco is, for it has mostly finite borders, at least on three sides, and I took a bus across its width, east to west. I also got to stand back in Oakland, Berkeley and on the north shore of the bay and look at it some more. It is truly a geographically diverse area of ocean, mountain, forest and beach. Just as LA seemed smaller to me than I had imagined it would, San Francisco seemed bigger. Hmmm, perceptions shift when faced with the reality.

Laurie and I stayed in Berkeley in a comfy little studio house that she rented through the VRBO site – Vacation Rentals by Owner. It is a good way to have a home away from home, though not the cheapest for this dirt-floor-sleeper from the jungle. However I’m getting ideas of what I can do with my house in the Hammer. Laurie’s also an incredible packer, having included all sorts of extras in her bags to make sure we have whatever our hearts desire.

I can understand why this area has attracted the movers and shakers in so many social movements. There is an energy in the Bay Area that makes me think of the Monteverde clouds. Several layers of intense movement, each strata having their purpose, heading in deliberate directions, collecting their forces to create storms that stir up the earth.

 What a week! It seems that everything possible has been said about the election of Barack Obama.  I follow the celebrations of my friends in phone conversations, by the internet and on Facebook – particularly the Minniejean Brown Trickey family from Little Rock, Arkansas. After a lifetime devoted to civil rights, her work now being carried on by the next generation, Jean must still be whooping and hollering in Little Rock (when not crying for the sheer joy of it all – she’s actually crying below over finally receiving her high school diploma fifty years late in 2007.)jean-weeping

 Jean was one of the nine teenagers who stood up to the taunts, jeers and physical abuse of the indignant and racist white crowd in 1957 and desegregated Central High School, a massive tomb of an institution in that otherwise smallish southern city of Little Rock Arkansas.  Perhaps my heart explodes in festive fireworks for her more than anyone, she being the personal face I can picture amidst all the happy masses.  I saw Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, tears in their eyes, in the crowd at Obama’s Chicago celebration – but I was thinking about Jean and her daughter Spirit and the rest of their clan in Little Rock and beyond and how they must  be feeling. 

z-ceremony-jean-clintons I was at the 50th celebration of the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas last year and it was an incredible occasion – Obama’s former opponents, the Clintons, front and center – and how much more potent it would have been if they had known then that the next president was going to be an African-American.  Jean was one of those who started paving this long road to change that Obama is now promising to continue to remove the barriers from.

Everyone I know personally is revelling in the results of the election, yet I know that there are many who are devastated by the election of Obama.  If that is due to their extreme right-wing views, as life-long Republicans, well, fine…that is no different than any other win/lose situation in politics (and I’ve felt that kind of disappointment more times than not.)  However, if their devastation is due to racism, that they have a problem with a black man, an African-American, being their leader, then I have no time for that mentality.  Get over it.  Open your minds. Open your hearts. Erase the hatred and widen your belief system. 

Our world is small, beautifully diverse, and needs to be integrated in a peaceful and intelligent way.  And equalized.  Across races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and class. We have no choice.  How we can have such wide diversity in thought and desire as such a very real part of our human condition but not respect our differences is perhaps one of the biggest questions I grapple with. Yet sometimes we can’t even come to peaceful decisions with our family or neighbours, those who we know and love.  Although I am not a Quaker, there is much of their wisdom that I adhere to naturally – pacifism, consensus, respect, community. Being alive and living communally is a constant challenge. If we proceed with open hearts and minds, and make positive steps forward, with love, in harmony, in health, in peace, we will get a little closer to justice and sanity bit by bit. 

                                                           

It is so refreshing to me to have a leader, anywhere in the world, that I can listen to for more than a minute without wanting to scream.  Barack Obama is a magnetic man, a great orator, and wise person – who somehow managed to never lose his cool through the months of stressful politicking. As I continue to follow the analysis of the pundits, I listen to how his sturdiness and strength of mind is already part of his power.  And the beauty of the man and his family is only icing on the visual cake that we will now be feasting on for the next four (hopefully eight) years.

On Wednesday, the morning after, I was the visiting activist at my friend Laurie Hollis-Walker’s Eco-Psychology class at Brock University in St. Catherines.  Laurie and I became friends on the Temagami blockade in 1989, lost touch until she contacted me several years later to be part of her undergrad thesis she was preparing.  She interviewed me, along with ten other participants from the blockade, investigating what had compelled us to be part of this civil disobedience – where we had come from, what had molded us, why we had taken part in the blockade, and what this experience had meant in our lives. It had uniformly been a very profound experience for each of us – as Laurie said, after overseeing all the interviews, we have much in common, mainly the deep belief that we had to take action when we saw injustice.  It was a life-intensifying experience for most of us and also introduced me to some of the most committed, colorful, and interesting people I have ever met, many of whom I am still connected with. I believe we are going to have a twenty-year anniversary camp up in the bush of Temagami next September and look forward to reconnecting with those who I have lost contact with.

                                                               

It was following that profound experience deep in the Temagami wilderness that I went to Costa Rica and, very quickly, met Wolf and started recording his stories.  Although I had been involved in environmental and peace causes for years, it was the blockade that really empowered me and, I have to believe, led me to Wolf and the eventual completion of our book.

laurie1

A year ago, Laurie and I reconnected in cyberspace and she took on the huge task of doing the layout of Walking with Wolf.  We have now stayed in much closer contact which has included me being part of her Eco-Psych class.  This is her third semester teaching this class that she developed – and my second time sitting in as specimen activist.  This time I also did a presentation on the book.  I am so proud of Laurie, her hard work and perseverance in following a path that helps others understand what is behind social activism.  We are not deviants.  We are believers.  We are not criminals.  We take risks according to what we believe is important and absolutely necessary for the future and well-being of our society and planet. Our power comes from our collective spirit and our firm desire for positive change with a vision, not from material wealth or social status. Laurie is now working on her PhD and studying the activists who have been protecting the redwoods in California for years, a much more aggressive and dangerous activism than what we experienced in Temagami so many years ago.

I also spoke with Wolf and Lucky today.  They are at the end of their American sojourn – from Connecticut through Ohio (see Not Only Olney post), Iowa and now they are in California with their son Tomas, his wife Gretchen and their grandson Julian. They head back to Costa Rica on Monday, happy to have been present in the US at the time of this historical election. They were out yesterday in the Muir Forest, those redwoods that Laurie has been visiting. Wolf presented Walking with Wolf  to Lucky’s family and their friends in Earlham, Iowa and didn’t have enough books for the demand! Hopefully those who want the book will contact me or Kathryn as is explained in the Buy this Book page of this blog and we will send them.  I will be heading to Costa RIca at the end of December (after a couple weeks with friends in Guatemala) and we will work away at getting the book out in Costa Rica. We had a new plan, a renewed sense of hope and lotsa vigor! I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it – and that someone would be me – and the Wolf. He’s been selling so well that I have to ship more boxes down. Watch out Ticolandia! Wolf is coming home.

muir-woods

There is no comparison between anything I have ever done to what people like Barack Obama, Jean Trickey, Laurie Hollis-Walker or Wolf Guindon have accomplished against all odds, but I inherently understand and respect how sincere and correct their commitment has been for a better world and a more just society. I am honored and blessed to have known these people (well, not Barack of course, but maybe one day…) who have made big differences in the world and influenced so many others by the constance of their actions and the strength of their beliefs and the rightness of their vision. Perhaps, in the wake of this incredible election, the rugged path followed by some will widen into a wide boulevard filled with strong loving souls, leading us toward a more just and inclusive world.

                                                                    Red-necked Wallaby

And just an update on Wendell the Wallaby, the marsupial who walked up a fallen tree trunk and out of his enclosure in a small animal park near Ottawa, Ontario.  Before the snow falls, this poor creature better get home to his woolies cause it’s a dangerous world for a wallaby out there.  It has actually been a very mild week here in central Canada and I’m sure that is helping his survival.  He has hopped his way across the fields far from Ottawa – almost to where my pals live in Westport – uh? remember the coyote gang? – but the most recent sightings have been back near Ottawa.  He has wandered across hundreds of miles, kilometers, whatever you want to measure in. A long long way.  For some reason, in this week of global elation and history-making politics, I remain highly concerned with the well-being of Wendell. Perhaps I see some symbolism in this innocent creature out there in the world, lost, no doubt scared, but obviously determined to get somewhere. Maybe he is representative of all those folks who have found themselves wandering in a strange world, trying to survive on their natural instincts and with their own strengths, only to be more lost and less powerful with each mile they travel but always with the possibility that they will make it home. Or maybe I’m just a wannabe-wallaby who has spent the last week worried over the fate of our world and who would be the next American president, and Wendell has provided a distraction from the bigger issues as well as titulated my gypsy blood. Now that the president is taken care of, and the Lucky Wolf is almost back in Monteverde, come on, Wendell, get on home.

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031