Drumming 1

Ursula was curled up on the couch happily ensconced in the newest Diana Gabaldon time traveling novel, when Charley came into the living room at full speed. “Are we going to drumming tonight?”

“Shit. I forgot. What time is it now? I’ll need to make something for the potluck.”

“It’s almost 5. We’ve got some potatoes and rosemary. How ‘bout scalloped potatoes. I actually liked it when you made it with rice milk recently.”

“You know, that takes a while and we’ll be at the beach. Let’s just roast the potatoes in foil in the fire.”

“Good idea.”

 

“Looks like the weather is good enough for drumming outside tonight,” said Pia happily to Raven gathering things for the evening from their own cozy kitchen. “I’m glad we have Sitka House as a backup but I’m looking forward to one more beach night.”

“Have you been weather witching again, girl?”

“A little – I just put it out there as a low key request. Nothing urgent. Owen did too. There might not be a connection but it looks to be a good night. So yay.”

“It’s a delicate balance knowing when to ask and when to plead and when to let it go, isn’t it? I guess we’re all getting better at that sort of thing.”

“Anyway, I’ve marinated potatoes, mushrooms and zukes for shish-ka-bob. I think Carlos is bringing lamb for the carnivores. So we’ll need to take the grill for the fire. Did you put the drums and my flute in the car?”

“Yep, we’re all set. Are we taking anybody?”

“Arlo said he’d hitch over and carpool with us. I suggested he invite Jay and Fern from here. Oh and their little one. I think we can fit them all in.”

“Here they come now.”

 

“I kinda wanna to the Full Moon drumming tonight,” Uri said to Michael who was working as usual on his laptop. The desk in the house they’d just moved into was already cluttered with papers.

“Mmmm,” responded Michael noncommitally.

“I know it’s not your thing, but I’m shy about going by myself. You know all those people and can help me connect in.”

“You don’t need me.”

“Yes, no, maybe, but I want to spend the evening with you and I’m getting that I need to do this. I’m feeling some important stirrings in the air this night. I’ve got my special vegetable curry rice all ready to go.”

“You and your stirrings. Okay. You know I’m skeptical of all that, but I know the music means a lot to you. Let me get to a stopping place with this report. There probably are some people there I ought to be talking to.”

 

“Golly, Miss Molly, I’m tired,” thought Molly eying the cold wood stove as she took off her work boots in her living room. “Should I really be going out to drum tonight? Yes. It will be good for me to move my body differently. I can pick up some chips at the store. I certainly don’t have the energy to fix anything.”

 

Owen carried an armload of kindling and newspapers down to the beach access just north of the fork in the road beyond Sitka house. The sky was gray but the rain was holding off. His and Pia’s conspiracy seemed to have worked. They were getting better at knowing when and how to judiciously use their weather juju. This had seemed like an important night to gather outside.

There were some burned bits of driftwood in a circle of rocks and he was soon able to scrounge up more. The pickings were slim this time of year after the summer hoards and before the winter storms brought more in. He started to worry whether others would bring some to add, but reminded himself firmly that he could go get more at the house if need be.

He knelt and built a teepee of kindling stuffed with newspaper, and with a prayer for just the right mix of harmony and edgy dissonance in the evening, set the match to it. He had to do a little blowing but it was soon burning merrily. He loved the act of building the fire to call others in.

As he sat by the growing blaze, he noticed an eagle cruising up the beach towards him. He watched it happily, and then his heart soared as it circled low over his head before heading up towards the Mountain.

“Thanks, Eagle, for the gift of your presence. Good happenings tonight, eh? Thank you, Mountain, for your continued…ummm…. sourcing of our process.” He didn’t know quite what he meant by the latter, but certainly the Mountain’s presence was a constant in their lives that brought the Medicine Circles good energy as well as challenges. Full Moon Drumming wasn’t necessarily a Medicine Circle function, but there was a definite overlap of folks who liked this kind of anarchistic hippie thunder drum music with those who were the healers and seekers of his soul tribe. Certainly the bonds forged at these gatherings, usually held at a different people’s homes, helped the community as a whole, both spiritually and with their sustainability “agenda.”

He turned from his musing as some folks he didn’t recognize came up behind him. Newcomers were often a little early, not sure of the protocol.

“Hi, I’m Owen Logan.” He held out his hand.

“We met at Bear Essentials recently,” said the woman. “We’re Jasmine and Gideon Terranova and this is our son, Finch. We don’t have any drums, but Ursula said….”

“There will be plenty,” Owen assured her.

As if in confirmation, Pia and Raven appeared over the dunes carrying a big conga and its stand, followed by Arlo with his djembe. Jay and Fern staggered in with a cooler of their beer between them. Little Anise followed lugging a bag of percussion instruments. Gabe brought two doumbeks and Alex another conga.

Soon there was a goodly crowd of all ages, glowing in the golden light of the magic hour. A table had been improvised on a relatively flat-topped log a little ways from the fire circle. A couple of people were already digging into Cali’s cookies. Pia added her veggie shish kabob sticks on a grill along side the ones Carlos had already laid down. Underneath were Charley’s potatoes pre-wrapped in foil with rosemary and a dollop of butter.

Ursula stood behind them, holding baby Menolly and cooing to the bright-eyed little one who was cooing right back. Pia stood up to admire her. “Such a sweet little Dragon Girl, isn’t she?”

“Always a miracle that she’s here,” Ursula whispered, knowing that Pia understood how much her granddaughter meant to her. Children and dogs raced around them in the sand, a few middle school aged teens wandered down the beach picking up trash, while groups of adults clustered in conversation.

“Pia, I hear from Charley that you’re cooling on the idea of doing the workshop and Re-Treat business,” said Ursula after she’d handed the baby back to Cali to nurse.

“I’m not cooling on the idea, but I realized after talking to you guys the other night that I just don’t have the right energy to do it. My body gives off unhappy vibes whenever I think of making the phone calls to get things rolling.”

“An important sign you need to listen to.” Ursula turned conversationally to the newcomers who were standing at her elbow.

“We’ve been wishing a long time for someone to set up what we’ve been calling a Re-Treat and Re-Creation program to do speaker gigs and workshops here. A form of eco-tourism we could live with. Yoga weekends or visiting shamans and healers who could teach us new stuff, or whatever.”

“It doesn’t even have to be outsiders,” added Pia. “Plenty of folks here might be coaxed into doing a workshop if details like regional PR were handled for them. My partner Raven and I were talking about organizing this effort but now don’t think we’re going to.”

“Where would the workshops be given and where would people stay?” asked Gideon. “There certainly aren’t any big lodges or conference centers here.”

“We think it would work to use places like the community centers in each of the towns and various meeting rooms here and there. The Art Center often has space, for instance, and so do some of the spas. Actually, the vacation rental agencies have the conference room facilities scoped out, but they don’t have time to book groups or handle logistics. Obviously places for people to stay are scattered about – rental houses plus B & B’s. There are several restaurants like Arachne’s Web who do side catering work.“

“Sounds intriguing to do it in a decentralized way,” said Jasmine. “I used to do retreats for a conference center back east. Where would we start if we were to do something like this?”

“Wow,” said Pia. “Not to jump all over you, but you might be the answer to our prayers. I’d be happy to fill you in on what we’ve been thinking. It’s perfect for an economic development grant since it can be pitched as taking advantage of our existing visitor population yet keeps us from filling with T-shirt shops.”

“I love it when you talk ‘dirty’ like this, Pia,” said Molly. “I can just hear those well-oiled wheels in your brain turning.”

“Takes one to know one,” laughed Pia. “I haven’t been able to think of any reason why it wouldn’t be viable…. besides my own lack of energy for it. My wheels aren’t rusty but they’re ready for a different kind of track….”

“Or something like that,” laughed Ursula.

“The Healers Guild will collaborate,” offered Charley who had come over to add his two cents. “That always appeals to funders.”

“Wouldn’t you need non-profit status?” asked Gideon.

“Maybe,” said Charley. “We just happen to have the Cedar ReSource Center’s 501c3 to sponsor projects that are….”

“….moving our River and Mountain community towards sustainability.” Molly and Ursula chanted this last bit in unison with Charley. “Don’t we sound like a grant proposal already?”

“We’re both on the Board,” Molly explained to the Terranovas. “Charley is staff.”

“I’ve been wondering what that was about,” Jasmine said. “It all sounds intriguing.”

“The Center helps pull pieces together for new projects. Dreaming. Conjuring. Networking. Manifesting. Even providing technical help sometimes like bookkeeping and grant writing. That’s how the Portland State Locus program landed here,” said Charley.

“Wow, I wonder if I could do this project and write too,” said Jasmine. “But maybe they would kind of feed each other. It would be cool to have the Harner people come to town. I’d really like to learn from such folks….”

“I worked with them training for Soul Retrieval work,” said Owen.

“We figured it could start with all the teachers each of us has had over the years,” said Molly.

“In fact, you could probably get a Locus intern right off the bat,” said Charley.

“It could be musicians too,” mused Finch who had been listening intently to all this.

“The ‘shishes are ready,” called Raven squatting by the fire. One of the young mothers, a two year old clutching her pant leg, began helping the bigger kids roast hot dogs on skewers.

“Let’s have tea together next week and I can give you names and contacts on the local end.”

Ursula and Pia gave each other high fives as the others turned toward the food. “Yesss!”

“I knew they were live ones!

Cali & Ariel Climb the Mountain

Caliente and Ariel were renewing their childhood friendship by climbing the Mountain on a cloudy day in early October. Black shaggy Lummox pranced before them as they made their way up the well-worn trail.

When they reached the saddle of the Mountain, Cali headed off the main path along a lightly trampled way covered with miner’s lettuce and a little plant she’d never managed to identify. After a minute she slowed and, pointing silently, knelt at the base of a large Sitka Spruce. Digging with her hands, she exposed the top of a good-sized rounded rock. “This is a shrine that Owen and my mom got a bunch of us to carry up here when I was a teenager. The rock is from the beach and connects energetically to a mountain rock we carried down to the bay.” She dug further.

“Here’s the Fibonacci spiral that Raven carved on the front.” Her fingers lovingly traced the spiraling pattern. “We carried this fucking thing up here in a canvas cradle. Taking turns, it still took us two evenings. My brothers powered it up the last bit.”

Ariel was awestruck, imagining the effort of getting the rock to this spot and her good fortune in connecting back with these people who would undertake to do such a thing. She was almost afraid to ask about their intention for fear it would be some disappointingly prosaic reason. The answer when it came was deeply satisfying.

“There was a battle over the placement of a cell tower up here contrary to provisions in the park’s master plan about no further intrusions of electronic equipment. Although a number of us consider this a sacred mountain and we know the native people did as well, we had no legal standing ourselves to enforce its protection. So Owen’s idea was that if we put a shrine up here it would begin to establish that standing.”

“Did the tower happen?”

“Yes, we were unable to stop it.” She paused for a minute remembering the whole process and then grinned. “I gotta say it’s nice to have the cell phone reception.”

Ariel grinned back understanding the ironies. “What did you mean about connecting with the Bay?”

“The Bay Shrine is also in the State Park. Owen and Raven got the rock from the place on the back road up here where they dump the landslide fall from the highway. Mom says that when the two rocks were in place she could feel the zing of a field establish itself between them. Would it be an electrical field or a magnetic field?” Cali mused. “Who knows, but a lot of good things have happened since, more or less between the two rocks – ReBound, the Conservancy Farm, Elk Ridge. Cain’t say for sure they came out of this act but it’s fun to think maybe they did. At any rate, it’s all part of the cool things that have been happening in the twenty years you’ve been gone. And every year in May, around Mother’s Day, a small groups visit both shrines and rededicates them, ending with a picnic at the Bay. I haven’t done it in the last couple of years but my folks almost always go.”

“It really does feel like a remarkable place, both here at the shrine and the community as whole,” said Ariel. “I’ve wanted to come back ever since my parents split. But now I’m realizing that there were reasons to come home besides just the ocean and you guys.”

“Let’s go on up towards the Pinnacle. It’s cool to see the place laid out from there.”

They stood and brushing off their bottoms, set out along the trail that curved around the north side of the Mountain. Lummox raced up from his woodsy snuffling adventures when he saw they were headed onward.

“Didn’t you used to be able to see north up the coast from here?” asked Ariel.

“Yes, when we were little this side was newly clear-cut. But trees do grow and these are now blocking the view. Can’t really complain. I do miss seeing further in this direction but the wind doesn’t whip so much through here anymore.” She shrugged.

After fifteen minutes the trail angled up again towards the ridge and it wasn’t long before they reached the last bit. Rather than a path it was a jumble of sharp toaster-sized rocks heading steeply up. The drop off on either side was precipitous and there was little to grab onto for balance except prickly wild rose bushes. The big shaggy dog bounding between them didn’t help. Cali’s legs were rather shaky and she kept having to stop and catch her breath as she crawled up. What with the baby and all, she hadn’t climbed the Mountain in a while, especially this far. The thought of Menolly made her breasts tingle. She shouldn’t hang out up here for too long.

They clambered up the last bit, and Ariel, who had not been breathing hard at all from the scramble, gasped breathlessly at the panoramic view, South, West and East.

“I’d forgotten!” she whispered.

Laid out below them were the sparkling ocean, river, bay and mountains. There was much evidence of human presence, of course, but it was exciting rather than depressing. They could see the Illahee School playing field with its building tucked mostly into the woods. ReBound was a scar in the dunes but it generated a feeling of accomplishment and hope. The clearcuts and housing developments were less easily forgiven but Cali pointed out the Elder Home now ensconced in one of the former fancy McMansions, as well as the abodes of various people she knew. Her folks’ house was hidden but the very corner of Benden Farm was visible. Cali’s body thrummed again at the thought of her baby down there.

Looking over at her, Ariel snapped a photo on her phone of Cali sitting on the rocks, the magnificent lay of the land in front of her. “Chica…. so many cool things down there that you guys have accomplished….” She hesitated, “But….  do you ever feel a little spooky up here?”

Cali looked at her in surprise. “No. Although sometimes I worry that the dogs will fall off. Mostly I feel power. I feel satisfaction at all that is happening down below. I feel the beauty and ancientness of the mountain. But spooky?”

“Right now I feel like someone is watching over my shoulder – like there is a BIG presence here that doesn’t really want me to be here. It’s almost growling at me. How weird is that?”

“Seriously? Maybe since I’ve lived here all along, I am tuned to the Mountain’s energy…. but I don’t sense that at all.”

“It’s like needing to make friends with a growling protective dog. Like I have to pass muster somehow…. At least I hope it’s a test and not a warning because the longer I’m here the more I want to stay here. In fact, I’d almost say I was meant to be here, that I was called here. Does that make any sense?”

“Yes, it does. Many people feel called here. I was born on the Mountain so I haven’t experienced that feeling either. If there was a call for me it was before I was conceived.”

“I was born here too so the call for me has been to return to my homies.”

With that, a wild high-pitched screeeech drew their attention. Spiraling up towards them were two bald eagles. The young women watched reverently as the huge birds, white heads and tails evident, swooped up past them before peeling off to head west out towards the ocean.

“Wow! It is indeed a powerful place.”

“There’s your confirmation,” said Cali with tears in her eyes. “My brothers used to mischievously call them B52’s. The eagles are welcoming you. I’d say you need to make a conscious connection – make friends almost – with the presence in the Mountain. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m guessing it will unfold and you will know.”

“It seems to me since there were two eagles that they are welcoming both of us,” said Ariel. “Or rather saying they’re stoked we’re here and conscious and that we have work to do together.”

“Maybe the eagles were reassuring the Mountain or at least the scary presence you were sensing.”

“That rocks my world! Guess we’d better head back down and get to it,” laughed Ariel. “I wonder what will happen next? Wish I’d gotten a photo of those eagles!”

“We were too amazed to even think of it, weren’t we? Come, Lummox.”

 

The Mountain, of course, appreciated the attentive visit of the two young women, as well as the continued energy shown by them and others to the Shrine, the Peak and the details along the way. “I have special fondness for those born here. They made a choice to come from the get go. Yet, so many of them are wandering now, riding the ripples outward…. Of course, I have an equal fondness for those heeding the call to appear here now for the first time. How challenging it is to come even though they don’t realize they are actually remembering their intentions from the Council Fire to help make the changes here. Guess I should be thanking you, Sister Spider and Sister Coyote….”

“You’re welcome.” Abuela Coyote appeared on the Pinnacle. “All these two legged humans with their blasted free will clause are so tricky to work with. Their twentieth century acculturation has drummed out of them their most basic connections with Earth and Sky, not to mention the likes of us. It’s a delicate business to call them awake. But it’s gotta happen. You’re usually more patient than I am, what’s up?”

“Oh, change is in the air, don’t you think? The fiery one today – she’s aware of the possibilities and is working hard to make alternatives realities. Even spawning new ones to carry on after her.”

“Her attunement to you is muted though. She is so used to your presence. That’s the disadvantage of having been born here. What will it take to really wake her up?”

“That airy angel one, now, is a special case. It doesn’t pay to get too fond of her who has been gone so long, hence my grumble that spooked her. I never quite dare to believe the statements any of them make about intending to stay here but especially the young pups. There’s so much to lure them away.”

Coyote Woman made a sympathetic noise. She knew what it was like to care so much.

“Yet so much is at stake,” continued the Mountain. “So much wanting to happen. I sometimes feel desperately lonely. The tribal Old Ones are silent, mourning their losses. They still hold the space, but barely. We very much need the living ones to wake up.”

“Breathe,” said Coyote sagely. “Just breathe.” The Mountain inhaled deeply and a puff of cloud appeared like a cap at its crown.

Far down at its feet a few sensitive souls felt a subtle shiver in their bones. Ursula looked up from her berry picking and saluted the peak barely visible above and through the trees. Owen cocked his ear as he dug for potatoes in the garden, noticing sweet birdsong all around him. Baby Menolly sighed in her sleep and dreamed of a warm hand patting her bottom in a welcoming sort of way. Carlos, trimming in the orchard, looked forward to the new spring growth a whole season away.