In the Woods with the Girls

Last week Jeep and I planned for him to drive me to the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium. He would camp three days on the Smith River at the California/Oregon border, while I hung out in the woods with the womenfolk. But halfway into the drive, I realized how very sick he was.  Also, about this time one of our chargers shorted both power outlets. With one phone click left we called Amtrak and hotels to send him back home after I emphatically insisted while I appreciated his Midwestern protectiveness and sense of duty, I could take care of myself.

We got off the highway in Berkeley and spent two hours looking for fuses to fix the power outage. Instead I found a party store and bought a mask for the masquerade at the symposium. Priorities. Well that and the electrical issue proved to be complicated. I left Jeep at the hotel at the hour I wanted to be in the woods and with a scream of frustration joined the holiday traffic heading north with at least four hours left of driving.

Without the outlet to charge the GPS, or maps or directions that I didn’t think I’d need, I read exit numbers to try to gauge when I would get to Laytonville, which I knew was about 3 hours south of the border, but I couldn’t remember how many miles long California was. I tried to remember the order of towns from south to north, but drew a blank.

Finally I surrendered to the moment of not knowing. I called my friends and left a message that they might need to make my introduction as a teacher and hung up the phone to save juice. I was strangely calm and unattached now that I no longer rely on making a living from books and teachings. Of course, I wanted to have people attend my classes, but now trust had replaced uncertainty.

I rolled down the windows, lifted my face to the warm afternoon sun and let my long hair fly. I sang along with the Doors and then listened to Matt Dillon read On the Road by Jack Kerouac as the landscape turned to rolling hills dotting with live oaks.  Just outside Laytonville I found the signs for the symposium and turned onto the dirt road. I drove over the creek, passed bunnies, tall grass and the old school bus that used to have a sign that read, ’00 Vote For Nobody’.

I parked my car as dusk settled and hauled my luggage to the meadow where I joined my friends sitting in beach chairs around the fire. I threw my gear into the tepee where we would all stay and, just in time, gave my introduction to the crowd of 400 women and children, with an extra dose of gratitude for being in the woods with the girls.

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