Tuesday, September 6, 2022

An Uncanny Magic


I was exhausted, a sputtering candle, but here in the Quinault Rain Forest the Mother Trees, the great firs and cedars, the moss and ferns rekindle me. This forest is uncannily magical.
To pick a place on a map, choose its likelihood, and drive 800 miles to stand among the trees. And connectivity flourishes as hidden fungal networks feed the plants in exchange for carbon and weave a hundred species into a living fabric. Connectivity & Diversity & Reciprocity, inseparable - what Gaia teaches me.

I have a sudden - sight? An imagining? Could I have dreamed or seen a photo of a woman in a dog hair blanket, single feather in a sleek bun, selling tightly woven baskets? They learned that white people wanted to own…..to keep, to place behind glass. 

Dream and myth merge with the deep shadowy silence. Is that the woman picking berries in the photo I discovered so long ago?

I imagine a longboat of fisherfolk, or a single man standing at the edge of the lake. And I remember the masks that we once saw by firelight, and how they became Spirit. Days later, on the Coast, we find Quin-i-ault art and I think of the time 54 years ago when I discovered the art and the peoples of this coast,

and we discover the contemporary Tlingit artist Israel Shotridge, who carries on the tradition with his many-eyed Thunderbird, Salmon & Whale. Ah, Thunderbird, who makes lightning, brings the rainstorms that create this uncanny magic.
But I also feel the same pain as I feel in every formerly indigenous space. They never believed land could be owned till we took it, till we said Mine, a word that only exists in the language of ownership. But Israel Shotridge is a We who holds those who carved and painted before him, maskmakers, polecarvers, paddlepainters, drumstainers.....

How did I come to this blessing, I who could once barely walk to the corner, or make it from the parking lot to the College? Now almost 80 and  able to hike a trail. I still remember the first path I fell in love with when I was 8. It was only beaten down grass across an empty lot, but there it was, destination. And here the trails are soft with the layers and leavings of millennia, and a trail's destiny leads  to creek-fall.
Outside the door of our cottage is an immense fir tree that will not yield to my camera.  When I stand under its 50 foot circumference, it is a shelter like no other. I will take a handful of its deep green moss to add to the basket that Lina Jane Prairie made for us. And a handful for my friend who also talks to trees. If only I could speak the language of the great strands of fungi, the hyphae, who taught the firs and ferns, the pines and maple how to connect without saying a word.