Between the Darkness and the Light


August 2014- Bruce and I pitched camp under the apple tree. Bears had raided the fruit and puddles of scat surrounded our site. Large paw prints marked the dusty, dry river bed as a favorite bear crossing. We were officially in the wilds, camping at a remote environmental site in Humboldt Redwood State park. Our site, in a small meadow beside a redwood forest, had the advantage of more light and life. Deer––a mother and her fawn–– Steller's jays, thrushes, and towhees, gorged on the blackberry bushes surrounding our tent. At night we awoke to the whu, whu, whu-whoo of the barred owl. As I laid there I thought, when I return home I will hold Reclaiming the Wild Soul in my hands. I was about to turn 58 and I had worked on this particular book for almost a decade.

On my birthday, we hiked a nine mile loop that meandered through the largest contiguous stretch of old growth redwoods that remain--only 3.7 miles in length. As we followed the pine-soft trail, I thought about my brother, David, who died last December just months after his 60th birthday. I felt the loss of him, of so many trees, of all the creatures that are extinct, like a pain in my belly. As I walked, I cried...silently, gently.

A brother dies, a vast river of redwoods that once flowed the length of the Oregon and California coast is reduced to the length of an afternoon stroll. It is hard to fathom all the losses.

But as dawn crept in the next morning, the cicadas nocturnal song was silenced by the urgent squawks of the Steller's jays––loud, shrill, hungry for the light.