On the Road North Again

I lay naked in my sleeping bag seeking out constellations in the sea of stars overhead. orionTypically it’s not difficult to find Orion or the Big Dipper when only 20 stars are visible in the suburban night. Now it was like finding Waldo in a crowd.

Jeep and I had thrown down our bags just about a mile from Highway 5, off a dirt road, behind his car. I was looking for a shooting star – something that would indicate the wildness I was yearning to return to. Once again, I had lost myself in over-productivity. It was time for nature to regain her rightful position at the helm of my mind, heart and soul.

Suddenly Jeep sat up and stared at the lights of a large truck. “It’s slowing down.”

I couldn’t tell whether this was his natural suspicion of society in general or his acute, intuitive and accurate sense of his immediate surroundings.

Sure enough the large flat bed truck pulled off the highway and onto the dirt road where we lay snuggled into our bags.  “We’re going to get kicked out of here,” Jeep commented, lying back down.

As the truck rumbled closer and closer, the headlights lit up the desert landscape around us. I wriggled deeper into my bag, tucking my hair around me. I wondered if I would shamefully scamper for my clothes and dignity in front of the stranger or stand up fiercely naked, and gather my things deliberate and slow. The truck rolled twenty feet passed our car and kept going.

Jeep sat up. “They are bringing in the bees.”

“How do you know?” I asked looking at the rising dust after the semi.

”I can see the apiaries,” he said. “This is the time of year to transport the bees and they do it at night when the bees are asleep.”

Image

Memories of the research for Edible OC article came to mind. Yes, we were surrounded by thousands of almond orchards in central California.

My stomach turned, thinking of these over-worked bees that are at the crux of our dependency on fruits, vegetables and nuts and the deplorable way we treat them, because basically we are blissfully ignorant, have no land ethic and see ourselves as superior to every creature.

The next morning we drove through Altamont Pass Wind Farm: seven thousand wind turbines creating “green energy” whose supporters neglect to mention the massive amounts of bats and birds of prey that are killed every year – including the eagle at a rate of nearly 70 dead birds a year.

ImageI wonder if people will someday accept that our national symbol for freedom is just a mythical representation and no longer a fierce, independent creature.

Once in Berkeley we while waiting for the North Face outlet to open we strolled by Ten Speed Press, my first publisher – a funky institution that stood apart from the NYC publishing world with daring audacity.

ten speed press

A few years ago, after Random House bought them out they closed down their offices on Harrison St. Weeds had grown up around the sign. Neglected, forgotten, this building with so many wonderful memories, wasn’t a pretty sight for a future of independent thought.

It all made me sad … will we really continue this disconnect from nature and allow our wildness to become extinct? Or maybe we will find a way to let the past teach us a little wisdom and humiltyImage?

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