From my place, about a thirty minute drive, and then about a mile and half walk down a trail into a creek valley, regularly torn by floods, I can show you dens in the hillsides. Amongst the fallen boulders on the slopes of the eroded banks, I’ve found all kinds of jaw bones and other bone litter in the dark holes dug between and beneath fallen giant rocks in heaping messes. Dens far older than the current inhabitants. There’s alot of them too, all together, more than you could shake a stick at. It’s a little unsettling, being outnumbered by other predators.
Recently, while hiking these banks, taking pictures of rocks, I came across a recent kill. I clambered over the debris of a slide, and there it was, splayed out, an opossum. Whoever killed it, had just done so and had barely started in on breakfast, and couldn’t be far. I’ve seen coyotes, foxes, bobcat, raccoons. I don’t know who lives in the dens, and maybe they change hands often, a new landlord according to happenstance. Though. some dens are by spring fed pools on the sides of cliffs with waterfalls above and below, and you’d think any creature would want to return to such a sweet setup of crawfish and fresh water. Other dens have no view, but are located on deep, well-worn paths. Old game trails with dens like grassy hobbit-holes along the way. My scent is well worn and mixed in with the scents of other lives, I making noise on those trails. Just a thirty minute drive, and there is this little part of the planet, with these many and different lives weathering the thunderstorms and flash floods and constant encroachment of the city and photographers. It breaks my heart, and yet, that is my plan for the morning.
Sometimes, I feel like a witness to mornings on my little part of the planet. A journalist of quiet experiences, wondering over these interesting times in the anthropocene. These places not far from the coming progress and industry. Why? Why am I so compelled to go out there, over a multitude of other choices? Why is it so necessary for me? Why has out there, become so everywhere, even at work, walking from building to car, a flurry of sudden birds, tiny dots swoop from over the roof, maybe only seven birds, over the parking lot, my head and into nearby trees, chattering at each other. Bopping around, and I’m instantly smiling, and sincerely thankful and weird about such a goofy-ass thing. My day even gets better, atleast for a period of time, from the witness, from being there. I’m not bemoaning, or regretting, I’m just wondering why? There are places I drive, where I crest a hill, and a view opens up, a view I’ve been living with for twenty five years or so, and I tell you, I feel loved, greeted. The quality of light, the seriousness and dignity of the many lives. Many of these places would defy any camera, or development to capture, it’s just not photogenic, but it is an experience. It’s like trying to really describe the feeling of the Grand Canyon to someone who only knows it from their phone, but instead of the Grand Canyon, it’s just a bit of two lane road in the hill country, in the morning. A good friend, an intimate relationship.
The only real constant in my life, is the planet. This thing I am on. Since a baby until now, in all of it’s evolving, changing not being constant at all, really, the planet is my constant witness. Life on this planet, the sun, stars and moon interacting with life on this planet, and all the many, different lives and relationships are the only real constant in my life. Everything I put into a narrative, changes. It’s cool to witness the wake up and the dawn on this part of the earth, amongst the dens and flood prone creeks, with the birds as the planet also witnesses me. It’s a good time.