In Fresno, and nearby areas.
The San Joaquin River at Woodward Park.
Incense in the air, like a spirit, in my grandparents’ house.
My cousin and I meet an adorable, friendly cat in the orange orchard at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.
This kid is all KINDS of precious! What a cutie! He also let me pick him up.
I pass by my old house, where I lived when I was ten. A lot of memories here.
Back in my grandparents’ house, I always want to take in every moment of home. Even the oranges are beautiful.
This dining room is where we have shared many meals together. It’s emptier, now :,(
But still, I remember the joyful things my grandpa created, and I carry them with me.
But this is still the land of angels, and I wish to return again, again…
– Gentle J. Pine
Pulitzer Prize winning author N. Scott Momaday wrote The Way to Rainy Mountain in 1969 as an offering of love to his ancestors and living relations, the Kiowa people. The Kiowa live in what is now Oklahoma, though their ancient origins are in the Montana region. Momaday’s relationship with his land, the land of North America as he intimately experiences it, is rooted in the human being’s instinctual identity in place and peoplehood, a vital experience now forgotten among many contemporary Americans.
Rainy Mountain is located northwest of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma. The Kiowa people came to this region after encountering conflict with the United States Cavalry, who eventually forced the Kiowa into Oklahoma during the tumultuous 1860s, though migration began as early as the latter 18th century (the 1700s).
Momaday returns to Rainy Mountain as one returns to a home that is longed for, searching to understand his and his community’s storied places with maturing devotion to people and place in a new era for Indigenous communities. It is a journey that is a pilgrimage to his honored grandmother, now an ancestor who sleeps in the earth. Through finding her grave, his visitation here is also a way back to his people, the Kiowa, searching for their sacred story as told through their own lives in the language of landscape.
The next morning I awoke at dawn and went out on the dirt road to Rainy Mountain. It was already hot, and the grasshoppers began to fill the air. Still, it was early in the morning, and the birds sang out of the shadows. The long yellow grass on the mountain shone in the bright light, and a scissortail hied above the land. There, where it ought to be, at the end of a long and legendary way, was my grandmother’s grave. Here and there on the dark stones were ancestral names. Looking back once, I saw the mountain and came away.
This piece was originally posted online as an answer I wrote in response to a student question on enotes.com
The seasons turn, and we go with the eternal turning. It will not be fought, nor resisted, nor contested. No plea is accepted; into the mouth of the great gaping earth we everyone of us softly go. Autumn, the sign of the unstoppable wheel, alighting in fire the humor of our petty resistance to old age and death –to the very vitality awaiting within the acceptance of old age and death! Here is a holy time of contemplation for facing beautiful harsh reality, Elder of the midnight hour, the silver lines as mountain rock of an ancient’s cold hair. Grandma, guide me. Home of memory, place of my hearth and birth, call me homeward once more. The living World is as it is. Acceptance of this absolute reality without a constant yearning to always change it points the way toward loving reality as a fully dynamic place of living, natural magic in its own right; not as a fallen, temporary or resented state of being.
I am petulantly weary of the dull platitude, “change the world”. The World doesn’t need to be changed. The World is alive and doesn’t need us to save it. It is our human behavior and attitudes that need to change. “Obviously,” you say, but it is not so clearly obvious to those who unthinkingly project the dimness of humanity’s notorious myopia unto the holy life of the The World itself. For even we, small hominid creatures of momentary candlelight, are a flame’ breath in the wind of The World, dying and undying, all our passing cultures themselves being also an homage to the world-wheel we swivel upon.
A long time ago there was a man named John Burroughs, and this is what he said,
It is good that fire should burn, even if it consumes your house; it is good that force should crush, even if it crushes you; it is good that rain should fall, even if it destroys your crops and floods your land. Plagues and pestilences attest to the constancy of natural law. They set us to cleaning our streets and houses and to readjusting our relations to outward nature. Only in a live universe could disease and death prevail. Death is a phase of life, a redistributing of the type. Decay is another kind of growth.
Grandpa, give me joy in my days, in my work, in the labors of my life. Watch over me with pride, where you now live in the shining mountains of the world-without-end. Let my efforts be for good and beautiful endeavors, that I may make our people proud, our land a country of the rightful-hearted, softened by the gentle wisdom of elders and children, and toughened by the versant endurance of ages. May I always run to the roar of the night that is frightful, knowing that within what we fear is the fortitude we most desire. May my existence be a light and a blessing unto the beautiful Dark where I tread. Do not forget me, my ancestors! Sustain me, flame of origin! Remember we who yet way-find through our days in these human shapes, and keep us always in your affectionate embrace. So may it be.
I have dreamt the mountains are so close to my house in the city, the whole long range spanning the Cascades down to the Sierras, huge and magnified, their icy caps leaning over small neighborhoods in primeval protection. American Cordillera. In my dreams, the mountains spell the nearness of God. They are the mother mountains where clean waters come down and angels go to live in animal bodies a while. From the car driving by the foothills it looks sometimes like you can jump out of the car and run up there to catch fish in clear waters. Glitter white-gold sand, burnt-sienna Ponderosa pine needle trails, my California; wet Western Redcedar mossy deep green curling ferns, my Cascadia– I turn to the great land and the land turns in closer to me. A banner of turquoise in lakes, Milky Way trail of spirits –Inland Pacific! Lands of my birth! And the Range of Light is always at the edge of my mind, moving mountains in dreams.
image: Creative Commons CC0
I try to keep
the living room clean
but it always
gets filled up
Image © Gentle J. Pine. All rights reserved.
Two nights ago, Grandma and I read together Ursula K. Le Guin’s, “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight?” and last night we saw Life of Pi. I like both these stories!
Buffalo Gals was read to us in Anake, and I was so tired that week that I fell asleep in the middle of it. But what I did hear slipped into my dreams, and I wanted to go back and hear it again. The next day, Marcus said to not worry if we did not hear all of it, because maybe you weren’t ready to hear the whole thing.
Animal spirits are more clear to me now. I understand how completely alive animals are in their own right, whether wild or domestic. They feel love in their own way of being that isn’t dependent on our recognition of it.
“Eco” means “house”, and to animals, their habitat is their bedroom of life and dreams. Now there is a similar comfort of being at home in these wild places as I feel in my bedroom sanctuary, or my camping tent. And I understand now the human-animal way of true belonging in the world, safety in storms, the world itself the one great comforting tent. I wonder if the people of the Tanakh felt their desert tents were a traveling world-home, at home wherever they go with the wild God of the Original World.
I dreamt I went to visit Bag End, The Shire, and it was in Seattle. The place had been equipped with an electric tea kettle and a satellite-powered doorbell. Gandalf the Grey opened the door and barked at me for not checking my PO box lately. He told me to stop worrying about healthcare and college tuition, and that if I ever needed a place to prove my Washington state residency, there is always Bag End.
I meet a man with a purple beard and long, beautiful curls. He is part fairy. He tells of how the small wisps of Marcusʼs hair at his temples are dusted by the magic of fey.
image: Creative Commons CC0