Friday, February 20, 2015

Earth my Valentine

These days I like to blame the cognitive uniqueness I've had since childhood (ADD). In truth, I don't know what it is about me and having a love life. The whole topic seems like a thousand missed connections.

Yada yada, I was alone as a child. Then I was late to the game in learning social skills. My clever scanning brain was able to fill in many blanks except specifically the part between finding a girl attractive and having a girl friend. I can't think of a day since I discovered girls that my heart's desire wasn't to have one to love and cherish. I've had 40 or so years to figure out a work around or two but that is where the story bogs down, gets complicated and boring to blog about. What with health issues and other minutia it's been ages since I've even been on a date. Fortunate but also makes solving the problem difficult, being with people is best but I am quite happy on my own 85-95% of the time.

Always on the look out for new solutions and workarounds; new people, new situations and leaving my comfort zone are key. But what to do? A day trip to Wind Wolves Preserve presented itself courtesy of Seeds of Inspiration Community Garden in Bakersfield. I had only heard of Wind Wolves once before. At 9AM on Valentine's Day we piled into a shuttle bus at the SeedsOfIn garden. I knew planting Oak trees was part of the plan and a nature hike. Other than that I didn't know what to expect.

There were actually a couple of attractive single women on the trip. After so many years the spark of hope survives but I no longer bother even looking for opportunities for romance. Then again with, as I said, health issues so no job and feeling the crush of looming financial disaster there's this phrase that has haunted me since the 8th grade about the almost magical effects of - the love of a good woman.

Half of the 25 or so people in our group were children under about 8 or 10. 3 were babes in baskets. Some of my favorite kind of people. It's been years since I've spent time with them. As it happens over a third of the group were off the hook beautiful moms. I try to make it a habit not to look at married ladies but, wow. I sat next to this stunning latina woman with the most beautiful art on her skin. Hey it was Valentines day, cut me some slack.

I could not believe we were in Kern County. 40 minutes from downtown then you are suddenly in a different world. Rolling landscape with tiny canyons and a small stream that cut it's way through the mountains bordering the south valley thousands of years ago.  Over 93 thousand acres. To me a nature experience involves tall trees or the ocean. Perhaps because it is earliest spring and so green with even a few wild flowers. I was immediately enchanted.

The staff lead us to a spot just a 100 yards from the main building. Ranger Matt explained the process of taking the seedlings to the designated pre-dug holes, adjusting the depth with dirt, watering, taking the 1 inch shoots from their 14 inch containers that included a root that often was peeking out the bottom. Placing it in the hole and filling in around with more dirt, then more water. Key to this process was having the children do as much of it as possible. As a crotchety infirm ol dude that just so happens is lazy; the plan was showing some promise for me.

Kids: am I right?

Before walking to the planting site I met a new friend. This little person named Gracie showed me her little brother all bundled and covered up in a stroller, he was 3 months old. She then insisted we throw some rocks.

When the planting began I thought to work with my new friend but drifted to a planting spot with a mom her girl, boy and one in a stroller. I want to say Deseere', Sam, Scarlet, and Molly in the wheeled basket. (I am so terrible with names.) Little Scarlet was on it. By the time the rest of us were there she had the containerized seedling in the hole and measuring for depth. Kids love digging in the dirt and filled with enthusiasm. proper depth achieved water was added. Kids love watering too. Mom got the tiny oak tree out of the container and kids helped eagerly scooping dirt in around with their hands. There were those small garden spades for them to use but that wasn't happening. My task was to use a full size shovel and keep a pile of loose dirt next to the hole to use for filling. Next to us was a very miniature Grand canyon with a stream at the bottom. About half way through the 2nd planting Sam was much more interested in throwing rocks into the canyon. By the 4th one it was mostly me and Deseere', the mom, doing the planting.
That tiny tiny sprig at the center is a Mighty Oak.
The next part of the process was placing these long tubes over the baby trees to protect them from critters and weeds. The tubes reminded me of the translucent ones in a golf bag that organizes the clubs. Only longer and 5 inches across instead of 1. They have air holes and zip ties to hold them to a wooden stake. That in turn is surrounded with chicken wire, or similar, held in place with 2 of those metal fence posts. Driving the metal posts into the ground and is actual work work. A swarthy black man on staff named Moses did those. From his accent I think he must be from Africa.

All of this takes more time than I thought. Still I wanted to do one more. The first mom +3 I helped had disappeared so I found a seedling in container and found a designated hole. In everyday life I don't do squatting, kneeling or sitting on the ground. Between the people and the process and mother nature I just let that go. Got on the ground, measured my Oak for depth. Scooped dirt in with my hands and added some water. I looked around, most of the children were off exploring, it was just adults. Holding the naked root with acorn and shoot and filling dirt around takes more than 2 hands. I asked for help and yet a different mom was there scooping dirt for the seedling.

Somehow 2 hours had past and it was lunch time. Amber the SeedsOfIn lady, beautiful mom in her own right, invited me to share a picnic table with she & her boys & friend. I bragged to her about my latest nutrition routine of starting my days with a green smoothie. Considering how beautiful this place is, open to the public and all, I was surprised at how few couples there were on Valentines Day.

This didn't leave much time for a nature hike but our intrepid guide and bus driver Jana drove up a little ways to the main trail head. There they were, the lovebirds. Dozens of cars parked along the road. One trail was 9 miles another 6 I think she said. Luckily she found one that was only 20 minutes long and flat enough for strollers. She told us a little of the history and and about some of the plant life. It was a Spanish land grant in 1842. The road is over 200 years old. Then she drove us back to Bakersfield.

200 year old road

As my health> ability to work> financial security have been draining away this year I have been going through stages. Anger, resentment, guilt, fear and their associates. Lately those suffering emotions have been coming in bursts, but less often. The lessons of meditation and 40 years as a seeker are taking their place. My seeking has been for those truths beyond words and forms. So the serenity and unity with all things that I have been feeling lately are hard to express in words. A knowing that what is in the current moment is all that is. The congruity of current moments works with the river allegory. You can point your boat in a specific direction but gravity and fluid dynamics have the final word. This is simple stuff, logical, the deeper understanding is the part that doesn't lend itself to outgoing expression.

Physical healthwise it wasn't that good of a day. My memory was all but off line and I was thinking as slow as a line at the DMV. My personal magnetism wasn't happening either. I don't spend much time with kids, as I said, but when I do they usually flock to me the way dogs and cats do. The serenity thing I guess. Not that day. Said I wasn't looking, lovely as some of my fellow adventurers were, spontaneous love making didn't break out either.

Flocks of sheep eat potential fire fuel

The 20 minute hike
None the less, the whole little day trip adventure had me smiling from deep inside. On the ride home I figured out that it was when I got down on the ground and put my hands in the earth. That was the turning point. Children are one of the most disarming parts of nature. The women all bright and beautiful were more or less oblivious to me so unguarded. Showing to their children that limitless caring and outpouring of love and affection that makes them the fountain of human life. The location of the preserve itself was chosen because it's terrain, vegetation, wildlife and scenery that exemplifies the nature of this part of the world much more than an empty lot or municipal park in Bakersfield could.

I had gone there to have an adventure and plant a few little Oak trees in the hopes that one might survive for 100 years or more. One's connection to and being part of everything is a constant. (If a star wants out of the sky where are you going to put it?) Feeling the connection, being and feeling part of nature and the life force that flows through it requires action and interaction. The very things that I have neglected inside my little house under the big tree in the city.

Without literally holding it in my arms I had embraced the natural world and the earth herself. She embraced me back.

Those people's kids.