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.