Eighteen ramblers met today on what
started as a foggy morning but the fog soon burned off. Our decision to start the
rambles earlier this summer seemed to be the right one. The day didn't start heating
up until we had finished our walk.
Don Hunter's facebook album of
the ramble can be viewed here.
Our reading today was provided by Silvio Curtis and is from the Ursula K. Le
Guin book Always Coming Home, pp.
of the Valley
through a drought
all but the
but the Na
will have been a bigger, though a shorter, stream. When the Great Valley as a whole subsides, the rifting along the fault lines and probably some magma pockets under Ama Kulkun will have sent the Valley's elevation up; 'the watertable under it would also rise; and what with the hot summers of the Great Valley much tempered by
Sea and the vast marshlands, and the sea fogs flowing over the sea currents through a far broader Gate, the climate will have been modified. The dry season not so intensely dry; the creeks fuller; the river statelier, more considerable, more worshipful. But still less than thirty
miles from spring to sea.
Thirty miles can be a
short or a long way. It depends on the way you go
the Kesh called wakwaha.
With ceremony, with forms of politeness and
reassurance, they borrowed the waters of the River and its
little confluents to drink and be clean and irrigate with, using water mindfully, carefully. They lived in a land that answers greed with drought and death.
A difficult land: aloof yet sensitive. Like the deer who live there, who will steal your food and
be your food, skinny little deer, thief and prey, neighbor and watcher and watched, curious, unfrightened, untrusting, and untamable. Never anything but wild.
The roots and springs of the Valley were always wild. The patterns of the grapestakes and the pruned vines, the rows of grey olive trees and the formal splendor of flowering almond orchards, the sharp-footed sheep and the
dark-eyed cattle, the wineries of stone, the old barns, the mills down by the water, the little shady towns, these are beautiful, humane, endearing, but the roots of the Valley are the roots of the digger pine, the scrub oak, the wild grasses careless
and uncared for, and the springs of those creeks rise among the rifts of earthquake, among rocks from the
floors of seas that were before there were human beings and from the fires inside the earth. The roots of the Valley are in wildness, in dreaming, in dying, in eternity. The deer trails there, the footpaths and the
wagon tracks, they pick their way around the roots of things. They don't go straight. It can take a lifetime to go thirty miles, and come back.