Ursula Struggles

Ursula walked north up the beach. The sky was heavy and foreboding. Like her heart. The Mountain was shrouded in mist. Like her brain. She kicked the sand with her toes as she walked. Fiercely one moment. In discouragement the next, anger and frustration competing for attention.

The worst thing was that she couldn’t even figure out what was feeling so very off. She dragged along oblivious to the sand dollars on the beach and the lovely rills the outgoing tide had left.

Sex was better these days since she had put a little pressure on herself and Charley to take time together to really connect. They still had a ways to go to recapture their youthful passion. No, that wasn’t the right way to put it. They would never regain that level of hormonal drive or innocence. They were parents of grown children, grandparents even. The imperatives were different. They had busier lives than ever…. Were full schedules still the problem? It was so sweet when they did connect…. Yet, there was this feeling they could be going deeper….

The teaching was going well. The group seemed to like what she had to say and they were having lively conversations. The mix of personalities was good. Sometimes she wished she were structuring the class a little more openly. More people coming in to speak…. She had thought that Owen would chime in more but he was still staying in the back seat. Like he had her back, but…. Maybe this is what happens when one comes forward formally as a teacher. Was this what she was meant to be learning as much as the putting together of the content? For it was easier – a luxury actually – to be in charge rather than cope with the challenges of always co-creating with her pals…. It was a good experiment and was helping her hone her thoughts…. Maybe the lessons would translate into words at some point. A book.

HUSH! No planning ahead just now!” The words came like an imperative from deep inside her…. Usually she brushed the injunctions aside with thoughts along the order of “I know I shouldn’t do this right now but….” It was hard to resist the joy and juice of a creative rush of ideas….

Okay. Deep breath.

Ritual work was going well too. She’d enjoyed the powerful surge during the Demeter-Persephone ritual and telling the Durga story on Samhain had felt so right. What was her part of the Durga rebirth? What else did she or should she have a hand in?

Not a good question right now. Irrelevant,” came again from her inner self. “You’ll know.”

Another deep breath. “Where am I? What is this NOW? Cold sand in my toes. Shoes waiting patiently by the path.” A lovely wet rock that wanted to be in her pocket. Her neck wanted her scarf to be wound a little more snugly…..

Everyone thought she had it so together. That she wasn’t afraid of anything. And she wasn’t – except when she was terrified. Was that what she was modeling? That it was possible to be looked up to and still be scared? Ugh. “Gag me with a spoon.” She kicked the sand again.

Giving herself to her community. Buya! Bloody Bully for her! What about the times when she did things she didn’t really want to do? Go through Molly and Charley’s proposal, for instance…. She’d done it cause she knew she had a bunch to say if she could wrap her brain around it. Her experience was valuable – not to be thrown away. And she had been soooo glad they were doing it and not her, but it had felt important to contribute in some way. Especially since it was happening under her nose, in her own house. In her own bed with the dreamer that was Charley right next to her….

Plus she kept having the feeling that she should connect with the Terranovas to further the ReTreat idea a bit. She really liked their energy…. She had a feeling they had something to teach her. She wondered if Pia would follow up on that. Does Pia feel guilty for not going forward with it? Again, no need to think right now about where that was all going….

Manifesting what she needed. She’d gotten gracefully out of the active organizational work…. Taking on the teaching had been a big step – she touched for a minute back into the working out of that role earlier in the fall. That it was okay to do it and declare herself such…. It was hard to have people look up to her when there were so many other competent people around. And she was glad she had straightened out that thing about being a shaman. She so wasn’t one. Uri, now…. He had a lot to teach them on that score.

She knew there was something big in the way…. something that was smothering her today. Welling up strongly. Not making her sick, except at heart….

Doing readings for everyone else…. Not giving advice exactly and certainly not predicting the future…. But still being someone that folks with troubles could turn to. It wasn’t a bad thing certainly. As an elder…. How would being a crone help her? Was it time to declare herself such? She’d rather been avoiding it, not really comfortable being an OLD WOMAN. She knew she would still be beautiful and sexy even…. And she did like her wrinkles and increasing gray hairs…. What was in her way?

Was it HOW she was doing it? All this planning and manifesting and visioning…. It needed to be done…. Or did it?…. It was fun…. Was it taking a toll? Was there something wrong with the spirit with which she was doing it? Something that was draining her energy? Yet it was hard, VERY hard to imagine being any other way…. Does it have to do more with play? What would that look like??

A cluster of ravens and crows were picking at a seal carcass – maybe she needed to let them pick at her. That would be a shamanic experience…. Maybe she needed to have a session with June…..

Slowly her senses came back. She noticed that the fall wave surges had covered the large rock outcropping that was a seasonal friend to them all. She always wondered where the starfish – “I mean sea stars” – went when the sands washed in…. What was buried in her and wanting to come out?

No time like the present. If she turned right instead of left when she came out at the road, she would be at June’s door in a jiffy. If June was busy or not there, she could leave a note. If she was there….

 

 

“Help!” Ursula wailed to the white haired wizened little beauty who came to the green doorway with its arching trellis still showing a few tiny late roses. “I need guidance. No! I need my body to be taken apart.”

“You‘ve come to the right place, Girl!” grinned June. “I’m so glad you’re here. I just had a cancellation so your timing is perfect. Of course.”

“I need to be doing this for myself.”

“Of course you do. Chiron is in an interesting dance with Uranus these days – so Wounded Healer and wacky Heyoka Revolutionary are messing with us. About time you reached out beyond your own resources and came out of your woods for help. Haven’t seen you in here for a quite a while. I’m so happy I can be of service.”

In her urgency, Ursula brushed past June into the beautiful space. She plunked herself down in front of the biggest tray built into the floor in front of the wood stove and deposited her rock from the beach into the center of the fine black sand from some foreign shore. June stood watching with her arms akimbo, knowing better than to say a word to this seasoned supplicant as Ursula breathed deeply and looked around her at the thousands of figures waiting patiently on the shelves for someone to need them.

Her eyes first lit on a little ceramic candelabra with its three blue birthday candles. It was Mexican with bright flowers and three teeny birds on it. Next she picked out a black mother goddess figure – full boobed and solid – and set it in the center between the beach rock and the candles, placing several plastic children and needy looking folks around her. It was telling that the choosing of these figures made Ursula tired again. It was the worst of her sense of her role – the giving of herself for others.

A shaman priestess went into the tray for the part of her that could go deep. Either solo or in a group. Then a Native American medicine man crowned in eagle feathers, his hands held aloft in supplication, smaller plumes along his sleeves. There should be spirits and guides around them…. Polar bear and brown bear because she couldn’t decide between them. Heck LOTS of bears – a Zuni Bear. A…. She hesitated as she was choosing yet another bear. This was known territory. She didn’t need every bear on the shelf. Or Jaguar or Raven or….. But a crystal – a blue sparkly crystal egg…. And fairy maybe…. She turned toward the shelf loaded with them and chose an enticing blue fae pointing the way. But she was so young and pretty – ageless. Fairies were ageless weren’t they? Immortal in all the stories. Or morphing back and forth.

Maybe she needed the stooped and hooded crone in the scene. The older version of the fairy perhaps…. in the direction that the fairy was pointing. She sat back on her heels, simply being with the scene until she felt a call to put a gateway of some kind between the two. An arch and some Greek pillars would serve. Perhaps a chair next to the crone. A chair for herself…. A throne??

June watched silently, seated now in her well-worn armchair, while Ursula created the scene. She would have voiced more encouragement with most clients and maybe asked a few questions, but Ursula was an old hand at this.

Next Ursula selected an ordinary looking persona – a woman with a businesslike orange jacket and slacks. She had a briefcase in one hand and the other hand on her hip. No stopwatch like the Alice in Wonderland “I’m late. I’m late” rabbit, but she might as well have. Ursula had already decided against that rabbit – she’d banished him a couple of years ago and was damned if he’d come back in her tray this time! She glared at him before she moved on.

It was cool that this business-like figure had articulated legs like the dolls her daughters played with so she could be made to walk, visiting each of the groupings in the tray…. Leaving footprints like the astronauts on the moon…. And maybe even sit in the chair. She took the figure firmly in hand and placed her in front of and just outside the tray. Then grabbed a lei and placed it around her neck to lighten her up a bit.  She’d have put a goofy hat on her if she could have found one….

“OK, June, I’m ready to talk now.” June nodded with a grin and silently handed the younger woman a box of matches. With a bow of thanks, Ursula sat down on the floor and after a moment’s prayer, lit the candles. She could almost hear the birds on it start singing as she did so.

Taking up the orange jacketed woman again she began to speak, “This is ME – Me in my most busy guise even though I’ve never carried a briefcase in my life,” she assured June. She walked the figure over to the circle with shamans and spirit guides. “’Take me apart,’ she says. ‘Scatter my bones…. I know they’ll come back together when you’re through.’” Ursula prostrated the figure in front of the circle. “I surrender all that I know. All that I think I know.”

Next she turned the plastic woman towards goddess figure. “Here is where I have my roots – my foundation. Where I come from. Who I most honor and represent. Gaia. Mother Earth with all her solidity and her beauty – even in her present travail. Even in my present travail. She’s so THERE. Waiting always for me to tune in. But today all these everyday people are in the way of my connection with her…..“

“Do they need to be?” asked June.

“Noooo, I guess they don’t. They’ve been my job. Maybe for lifetimes! But I’m reaching for something else right now…. Hey!“ she said as she knocked them over with her hand. “I’m going to stick all these people into the sand. They’re part of my bones – my very structure. They are exactly what I must let come apart. It’s not that they’re not there. But they aren’t the point at the moment, are they? They are outside of ME.” Ursula turned them upside down. “Now they’re a bunch of figures with their heads in the sand…. That’s not quite the right metaphor. They’re not like ostriches but they weren’t my responsibility…. Maybe they really need to be buried all the way….. “

“Bravo,” said June. “You’re making my job very easy today.“

“They don’t need a voice or a teacher or anything right now. Whatever they need they can find for themselves from ALL of us. Including whatever new energy is wanting to come in that can’t if I’m in a controlling place…. Or cause I can’t imagine it…. That gives me confirmation shivers….”

Ursula reached out and put the “me” figure in front of the fairy. “I’ve always loved her. She’s light and sweet yet has such power. Not heavy or ominous. Fairy queens don’t age do they? We do. But they don’t….” Suddenly she broke down. ”Is there a way to have both??” she wailed.

June handed her the Kleenex box as tears rolled down her cheeks and her nose began to run. “Charley and I are just beginning to heat up the sex again. I really don’t want to get old and lose that.”

“Being old does not mean losing sex, believe me!” said June.

“….. Maybe I am ready for my croning. June….”

“Are you now? We would be honored to have you in our Crone’s Circle. It’s a big step, you know. A process. Literally a ‘crowning.’”

“I know. It’s my 60th birthday next summer. I have a feeling that declaring myself a Crone would solidify something for me – help me make a gateway like that one there….” She pointed to the sand tray in front of her.

“We can talk about the process later.”

“I suspect the details will emerge.… She’s all of these personas isn’t she?” Ursula picked up the woman’s figure she’d been moving around and set her in the chair.

“I’d say so.”

Suddenly Ursula leapt up and grabbled a lioness that caught her eye across the room. It gave her a warm feeling in her midriff – like it was meant to be. Her solar plexus glowed – the place of the Lion. Lioness. She put it down next to the little chair. “It’s like the tarot Strength card, isn’t it, June.”

“Yes, and like your Leo Rising, my dear.”

“Oh. My. God…. Goddess….” she amended. “It is. I. Just. Have. To. Show. Up. That’s what Leo does. How could I have forgotten? Or been so afraid?”

They both sat quietly for a several breaths. The ticking of the clock made itself known. Ursula’s stomach growled and she giggled.

“I still need the village though, June.”

“Do you?” The therapist spoke non-committally.

“Yup,” the younger woman said firmly, reaching out to uncover the figures she’d buried a just a bit ago. “Sorry, guys. It’s not that I don’t love you and our connections. And I do want to teach and heal. It’s just that I needed you out of the way for a bit. So I could see straight. You are my beloved tribe. Staying linked to you is an imperative for the future. But I need to shift my perspective just a bit. Put on a new pair of glasses. Not dark glasses to hide behind yet not rose colored ones either. Kind of seeing-through-the veil-glasses…. so I can access the new guides that await me. As a crone. You’ll all show up too, right?”

 

“Hey where were you this afternoon?” hollered Charley down the stairs when she opened their front door. “The Terranovas came by!”

“Oh. My. Gosh.” Ursula stood there with her mouth open and then began to laugh. “That is sooooo hysterical. And so perfect.” She told him about her day. “I obviously wasn’t meant to meet with them. What did they have to say?”

“It’s pretty damned exciting, actually. They are definitely interested in setting up the ReTreat business. And….” Charley paused for dramatic effect, making Ursula really listen up. “They seem to have plenty of money. They might even be interested in buying into my retreat place idea here on the circle. The land above and the house down the hill we just noticed is for sale.”

“Oh Charley. Really? And we wouldn’t have to do it?”

“I’m not sure how much I would need to be involved. Or if it would be profit or non-profit or how it would be structured or or or. But we could use our Aerie as a sleeping place rental and….”

“And the Womb…. “

“And you could teach as much as you want.”

“And others can be brought in.”

“And people will get hired and….”

“Will I have a place to be peaceful?” Ursula asked a little plaintively as she saw her craving for increasingly less active involvement crumbling….

“We can protect ourselves – you especially – in all sorts of ways. These seem like very capable people.  And it looks like they have enough money from to start it off right… and….”

“Abundance,” she breathed.

Abundance,” he agreed.

Charley on the Ocean

Charley sat on his longboard out past this evening’s small break at the end of the Mountain. There was a gentle swell but not much action. Which was fine by him since he’d come out to center and calm from the hectic details of his day.

Sometimes a good workout and tumble in the waves was just what he needed – all his concentration could go into coordinating board, wave, feet, and balance in order to get to the exhilaration of the ride. Not to mention climbing down the rocks and paddling out. The whole process was very effective in shutting out worldly concerns.

DSC04585It used to be harder getting down to the water – sneaking past the windows of vacation homes whose owners (for some reason) tended to think of the surfers as trespassers. However, a few years ago the house closest to the best path was bought by an older couple who’d been surfing here for years. So all were welcome now as long as they cared for the path and each other, local or not. The path was artfully lined with bits of old rope and colorful floats, driftwood and bull kelp, bent crab pots, and even bits of surfboards in an ever changing array they all contributed to.

Today he was content to sit there bobbing blissfully like the cormorants around him. Alternating between facing out to sea to watch for a promising set of waves and swinging eastward to take in the view of the Mountain as it rose tall and green above the breakers rolling continuously in to the rocks at its base. There were stories about the male mountain and the female sea making love. There were also stories about the female Mountain and the ferocious male ocean teasing each other. It was all one to Charley who considered himself less inclined to anthropomorphize and more apt to take things at face value. The Mountain and the ocean both had their gentle and terrible moments as did the wind and the rain. Fire not so much in the present though occasionally someone’s abandoned driftwood cookout went nuts in a summer wind and reminded them all of the tenuousness of the dance here at the edge.

Ancient times had known big fire. If the geologists’ current theory was correct, this had been the former mouth of what the whites came to call the Columbia River. It was dammed up by a lava flow and then pushed up by tectonic cataclysm to form the chain of mountains of which their Mountain was the outermost bump. The native people seem to have had some intimation of this for the translation of their name for the Mountain was considered to have been something like “Fire Mountain” or “Home of the Fire God.”

Whatever they called it, they had sure taken care of the place better than the white folks did. Charley could see the larger flotsam along the shore. A crab pot, several tires, plastic bags and bleach bottles and a length of blue rope, along with a telephone pole and a large unidentifiable piece of metal. Not visible from this distance were the thousands of tiny bits of broken down plastic becoming part of the sand and rocks. It could break your heart if you let it. The surfers and beach walkers hauled up what they could, leaving some for the on-going path decorating, but it was a good thing the concerted effort of the Annual Fall clean up was happening soon. And glad he was that he didn’t have to organize it or even take part in it, figuring he did his share on-goingly the rest of the year.

As Charley sat rocking, feeling blue about the condition of the ocean and shore, a cheery head popped up next to him. Large eyes looked into his. “Welcome, fellow swimmer,” Charley said to the seal. “Have you come to surf along with me? Must be a set coming in. Thanks for the tip…. And for the company,” he added as the head disappeared again.

It wasn’t unusual for seals to surf the waves alongside the humans, but it was always a thrill for Charley. In his hooded black neoprene, it was easy for him to identify with the seal. In fact, a group of surfers lounging on the beach half in and half out of wetsuits resembled the gathering of the seal and sea lion clans on deserted beaches the world over. It was also one theory why surfers were occasionally shark-bait. “No point in worrying about that right now,” he grinned to himself philosophically, knowing full well that it was but one of the risks of being out here.

Drifting next into his mind were legends related to the sea and the seals – the Northwest Native American story of the mermaid deity Sedna overlapped with the Celtic selkies of his own Scotch-Irish heritage. Always the stories were so sad. Selkies were seals who fell in love with a human of the coastal villages. In this day and age it might easily be a surfer. They shed their sealskins to become human but walked painfully as if on knives and were so homesick for the sea that they eventually returned to it, often after a child had been born. Thus the land-bound lover and child mourned along the shore while the selkie called poignantly from the waves.

In the Northwest Native tale a young woman and her father were chased in their hunting canoe by a flock of birds avenging the death of their leader. To save his own skin Sedna’s father pushed her from the canoe and then chopped off her fingers when she tipped the canoe trying to save herself. In some stories it was because she was kidnapped by (or fell in love with) Raven (or Thunderbird) and her father had helped her escape when the marriage proved an unhappy one. In all the stories Sedna sinks to the bottom and her fingers become the seals, salmon, walrus and whales hunted by the coastal tribesmen. She herself morphs into a sea goddess with the head and torso of a woman, but the tail of a fish. Some say she is malevolent and some say it’s just a crankiness that needs to be appeased now and then. Thus if the hunters do not catch anything for a long time or if the sea has been raging in storms, a shaman would transform him or herself into a fish and swim down to the bottom of the ocean to comb the tangles out of Sedna’s hair and plait it into braids. Made happy again she would allow her animals to be available to the hunters. For a while.

As a child, Charley had been horrified by these stories, and now as a father and husband, he found them even more poignant. Often he wished there were a way for happier endings. Ursula had been talking lately about changing the old stories – perhaps together they could do that – though he couldn’t imagine how.

Thinking of Sedna’s father’s act made him miss the two of his own kids who loved to surf as much as he did, Marina and Salal. Marina was certainly aptly named. His heart always lifted thinking of her work with water in different eco-systems up and down the West Coast. Salal had fun surfing all over the world. Charley appreciated the surfing adventures of Salal’s life, of course, but not the travel hassle. He was a stay at home sort of guy. Seemed like with such an earthy name of the berries of this place, Salal ought to be too…. “Down, Papa,” he told himself firmly.

How to change those sad old stories? Maybe it was just about seeing that Sedna had somehow chosen to delve into the mysteries of the sea when fate pushed her there – as the selkies chose to go back and forth between the two worlds. Was his chosen “tribe” as humans now learning to do that as well?

This made him squirm uncomfortably with the notion that came up in the Medicine Circles occasionally – that he was suited to have Seal as a totem. Seal is about inner journeying including lucid dreaming…. Heck, he couldn’t even remember his dreams. He could relate to the part that since seals swim both above and below the water, they deal with the inner and outer worlds and the deeper mysteries of nature. Their lack of external ears contributed to this idea – they were tuned to hear with their inner voice. But his prosaic nature kept him from diving too deeply into the mystical. Some would say that was due to his birthday just past – on the cusp of detail driven Virgo and Libra with its sense of balance. Even though his passion for the sea implied a Neptunian connection with the deep watery worlds that Pia said showed up somewhere important in his chart along with Pisces – he never could remember where. Raven always teased him that it was “all pretty fishy.”

Suddenly an instinct prompted him to turn back towards the sun now very low on the horizon. “All right!” he whooped. No time to think about any of that now. The set promised by the seal was upon him and it was time to stop musing and catch the best wave.

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!