The Road

Right outside my front door, the local landscape allows me lots of opportunity to explore. I live in a small hamlet community where there is nothing really available to keep me entertained or preoccupied socially. There is no restaurant, bookstore, art nook, shopping center, or even enough people to gather with for more than a greeting and a snippet of local news. Not for miles around.

Life “in the country” forces a person to garner the art of both self sufficiency and entertainment. It requires a lot of imagination, self direction and learning how to use all sorts of tools … for a wide variety of applications. Simply taking a drive down a dirt road by myself necessitates an understanding of not only how to utilize a 4-wheel drive but how to change a tire, stay warm and dry, hydrated, fed, protect myself from bugs and the various elements. I keep an inventory of all kinds of tools loaded in my car on a permanent basis simply to have them available in case the need should arise. I mean, every woman needs a pocket knife … and how about a small hatchet, folding shovel, chair, binoculars, plant press, emergency blankets and energy bars, first aid kit, fishing tackle (both fly and bait), field vest, reference books for birds and plants, flashlight, headlamp, walking sticks, bug dope, sketching materials, field notebook and lots of water. Everything is tucked away in a large Tupperware box in the trunk and a pack in the passenger seat. Spending so much time outside has taught me to prepare for whatever I might encounter when alone.

Preparation for being outside is one thing, but no one taught me how to be alone with Myself. Just me, myself and I. It is interesting to observe the amount of chatter and emotional “stuff” I carry around in my head on any given day, especially when I am alone. Between the moments of foraging medicinal and culinary plants, observing birds and animals, or simply watching clouds and weather I am at times caught in memories and wounded emotions. I am like anyone and everyone else who has had the opportunity to grow to a ripe old age. I have a herstory a mile long from having lived at least 595,680+ hours so far on this planet. Lots has happened, and not happened. The good, the bad and the ugly. My life choices have colored how I see and interpret this wide World, and how I see and interpret myself. When alone with Nature, I have learned that breathing, simple breathing allows me to release things that no longer serve me, to embrace the Goodness I have received and brings me into the Present moment.

The road conditions and their surroundings always change. ALWAYS. From one moment to the next … one hour, one day, a week. Each season brings changes in the cycles of all kinds of critters and in the cycles of my own psyche and Heart. Be prepared to Breathe … a recommended tool for wherever you find yourself. Grab a bar of Gratitude to snack on followed by a swig of Thanksgiving. Tools I have found essential when bumping down dirt roads through the landscapes of Life. Blessings to All …

Fox Mountain Chronicles

It is a new year, this 2022 and I have edited the name of my blog page from “Fox Mountain Muse” to “Fox Mountain Chronicles”. I really write about my life here in the outback of northeastern California, not so much on my ability to be a “muse” about much of anything.

I have lived here for 30 years now, in a wood ranch house built in the late 1860’s. I am not sure about the precise date of construction primarily due to the fact that any records of the place were destroyed in a fire when the town was part of Siskiyou county. We have “guess-stimated” the age of the house based on early photographs taken by Kodak at the turn of the century. I know for sure that it was here at the edge of town in the 1890’s long before indoor plumbing or electricity was brought to this part of the country.

There is a ridge that rises up directly behind our place…Barber Ridge. The name of our small town is painted on its stones right above the house. Fox Mountain is located a few miles to the northwest at the apex of this ridge and is neither great in elevation or easily recognized. It sits at an elevation of 6394 feet just southeast of Fox Flat. I have traveled only a couple of times to the top of the mountain in a truck and I must say that the view from there is stunning and breathtaking.

Fox Mountain rises above Big Valley which was called “Big Swamp” before the white settlers came to tame and drain its wetlands. I wish I could go back in time about 200 years just to hear the resounding sounds of birdsong off of the creek, river and wetland systems that existed here for thousands of years. The valley was a place resplendent with wildlife, fish, birds, reptiles, beaver, bobcat, fox and coyote. Land use practices have altered almost every acre of ground in the valley since that time and most of the land is under agricultural use or pasture.

Fox Mountain and its surrounding ridges are relatively both old and young on a geologic scale. They are derived from volcanic material that is variable in composition and is anywhere from Miocene to Holocene in age (23 million to several hundred years ago). The composition is primarily basalt and basaltic andesite with pyroclastic ash inclusions. Some places on its flanks are rugged basalt reefs, the rest is simply rugged with a capital “R”. It is very difficult to wander or hike through even with the best intention. One solid hombre …

Fox Mountain has been here as a Witness to changing times and topography for ages. It existed when the Medicine Lake Caldera, the second largest shield volcano in North America, oozed glass flows of obsidian. It overlooks the remnant weltands that provide food and shelter for thousands of birds that travel the Pacific flyway each year. It is under its tutelage that I have lived my life for the past 30 years, and I will most likely lay down my bones within view of its peak. It functions as a guardian teaching me patience with Time and its Seasons and offers me friendship as I wander among the remaining swamplands at its feet. It has become a Friend to me, always over my shoulder … and I choose to remain in the shadow of this mountain where I find Peace in these varied times.

Life in the Greenline.

I choose to live in the “greenline” of Life. Not because it is safe or secure, but because it is an area that fully depends upon the presence of “Source”. The first time I mentioned this to my friend Lynne this past summer, we were siting beside a creek that runs through her property. She literally laughed out loud and said that she “loved that idea!” because we both understood what I was referring to.

As a wetland ecologist, I often used the term “greenline” to define the presence of a green, vegetated area located on or near the immediate edge of open waters. A layperson can easily observe it no matter if one is standing beside a creek, river, pond or small lake. It is mainly comprised of plant species that are dependent upon the continuous presence of Water. The greenline can contain trees and shrubs, but along small creeks and ponds it is largely made up of herbaceous, grass-like plants. The width of these green zones varies, dependent upon the amount and force of Water, soil type, valley bottom width, general elevation and history of disturbance and erosion events. It is interesting to note that human-related influences seldom bring change to these overall factors. Nature defined attributes are the overlords here …

It is not a “safe” or “comfortable” environment to live in whatsoever due to the fact that Change comes frequently and often in cataclysmic surges from its primary Source, Water. One of the most dramatic differences between the greenline and its upland neighbors is the capacity for Change in both magnitude and timeframe. For example, barring a major disturbance such as fire or tractor plowing, a shrub/grassland site located above the banks of a stream is relatively stable and can be expected to remain constant over a 30-year period. Life in the greenline however, can change in a fraction of that time period and sometimes form a completely new plant community from what was there before.

Disturbances from the sheer energy of moving Water create new surfaces of freshly eroded soil – a prime and fitting location for plant roots to stabilize and catch fine sediments that are rich in nutrients. Most of the grass-like species which occupy such sites develop strong cord-like rhizomes and deep, fibrous root masses. They also are known to have the capacity to filter out chemicals, which ultimately result in improved water quality. Each stream or river is unique, having to develop and maintain an adequate greenline to provide a Balance between the eroding and rebuilding forces of Water over time.

Life in the greenline…

Life is so very similar to the forces found in the greenline. Disturbance comes and Change follows. It might seem better to “secure” myself in the uplands where Change may come more infrequently. If I do that though, it removes me from the Source, or Mystery, with all of its alchemical and edifying characteristics that come with it … which includes nutrients for the Body and the Soul as well as rooting densities that can assure Grounding. Life is Change, after all. Lots of Change.

Rapid change is not an enemy. It is one of the key natural forces that produces some interesting and necessary adaptations. Many of the cottonwood, alder, birch, and willow species require, or at least regenerate much better on, disturbed or open ground. Their seedlings depend on newly developed sand and gravel bars, freshly broken banks, or seasonal deposition areas to regenerate and establish. Similarly, my Soul depends on new sections of inner stream bank for collecting and anchoring “floating seeds” of wisdom and vitality into the openings within my own “greenline” ecotone …. It is the only way I am able to Thrive.

Already Home

“Being fully present to fear, to gratitude, to all that is—this is the practice of mutual belonging. As living members of the living body of Earth, we are grounded in that kind of belonging. Even when faced with cataclysmic changes, nothing can ever separate us from Earth. We are already home.”—Joanna Macy

Open Skies

A reminder from a friend today….

Autumn is here on the Modoc Plateau …

Back under smoke-filled skies … large fires in northern California continue. Had to cancel a fishing trip to Eagle Lake due to the heavy smoke, but had the urge to put my fishing pole in the water one last time for the season. Ash Creek runs through our town less than 300 steps from my front door. I grabbed my fishing gear and headed down to check out the late afternoon under the bridge. I depend on the Oregon Ash along this watershed to tell me the time of season … their yellowing in autumn and their greening up in spring. Autumn is definitely upon us now … It was a gorgeous afternoon spent along the creek bank. I caught a 12-inch brown trout amid my wanderings

Autumn on Ash Creek

Of Natural Things …

Gold Fire near Adin, CA. August 2020

Belly button musing here …

Nature is NOT about us, nor is it nonsense. Nature does not “give us fear” nor is it a bully, it is simply sovereign. It is what it is. Wildland fire, floods, hurricanes, drought, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and disease are not a new “normal”. They are natural planetary processes. We feel Fear when we experience them because we are fragile and vulnerable creatures, just like other tender tissues and life forms on this planet.

What I observe in a lot of teaching from You Tube gurus, is that what is occurring in the environment is “consciousness” driven. Raise your frequencies through Thought and Intent, don’t react in fear. Great change is coming, higher Beings have our back. What a bunch of storytelling malarkey … The sixth greatest extinction is on, happening right before our eyes, beneath our feet. Humankind as we know it is no longer a sustainable creature.

The sheer number of people on this planet, our impacts to terrestrial and oceanic landscapes, and our voracious appetites have created this conundrum. We have created multiple environmental tipping points by demanding a quality of life that is only sustained by ravenous feeding on other planetary Beings and resources. For example, the house I live in was built by gobbling up a massive number of trees. The car I drive dines off of mountains of ore … bauxite and iron. It’s engine gorges on layers of prehistoric forests and ancient vegetation. My clothes and shoes fatten off of the remains of cattle, cotton, sheep, dyes from chemicals derived from yet more plants… I/We have devoured our way across this planet and continue to feed on her landscapes to the point that other complex, beautiful Beings are being wiped out to the point of extinction every 4 minutes. What is happening with fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes and disease is Natural, is Her, our Earth Mama working her balancing act…

This is the time to Get. Out. Of. Our. Heads. The belief that thoughts are “things” was introduced in the late 1800’s through the New Thought Movement. I do not necessarily believe that to be truth … nor do I believe that thoughts drive evolution or that evolving “consciousness” is going to somehow resolve imbalances in huge planetary cycles. What is at play here is realizing that we all have been birthed into a Time of Turning. It is what it is. Flora, fauna, moss, bryophyte, bacteria, viruses, biogeochemical processes, rock, air, water and fire all play integral parts in balancing global systems. As creatures of this World, we are called to feel our fragility, our vulnerability as an acknowledgement of our total and complete dependence on Life as Earth provides it… Nature’s laws are sovereign and we are creatures that exist within its jurisdiction … members of the great Galactic mystery.


Every moment of my journey in Life is tethered as a note to an expanding cosmic overture, a universal Song. That is the best word I can bring forth to describe it. I exist within a Song.

Each moment, as it beads by, is concurrent with millions of other simultaneous events. Every one of them is bound to its own frequency, a rhythm generated by its placement and proportion within the cosmic tapestry of Balance. They occur not just in this reality and dimension, but in other dimensions yet unseen within the fabric of the universe. From the birth of a single atom to the dying of stars, there are layers of synchronistic forces and activities that occur during a simple intake of breath.

As I write in the comfort of my room, a photon of light pierces a chloroplast. Shifts of air pressure above my head carry the winds aloft. The chrysalis of a butterfly breaks open and the embryo of an acorn thrusts its newborn root into soil. Water molecules rise into the air as others travel downstream to the oceans. Tissues are healed, while other cells succumb to entropy or death. New leaves unfurl in plants as other meristems prepare for winter dormancy. Cicadas emerge from their underground nurseries as calcium deposits meld their molecules to the geologic matrix of soil. Heat waves rise off of sun drenched rocks. A star is born while another decimates as a nova. Everything. All things. Happening in this one moment… from the microcosm of an electron to the enormous macrocosm of movements of entire galaxies. Synchronicity in pursuit of its own purpose in a World that is beyond the capacity of words to carry.

Our moments are far more loaded than they appear, completely drenched in a Song that has existed since the beginning of all things. The music of rain, of sunlight, tempest storm, of tree roots stretched deep underground, stars winging overhead at night … of fish and life in the Oceans. It is a chorus of leaves unfurling, of crickets chirping, rock weathering and lava pooling. Loud and raucous … a rhapsody of atoms and matter conjoined in Sacred chorus … occupying the same period in Time.

The Song is comprised of billions of notes. Cadences of deep potential coupled with higher choruses of expression and longing. All Songs blending, melding toward an apex of Fullness that flows way beyond my own sense of Self. The Song is both within and without, validating my existence as part and Sacred to the Whole … not just to the One.

My Heart enters this Song with “So Be It”. Amen …

Lessons from the 1st full moon …

It rained hard here last weekend, over one inch in less than 24 hours. I stayed home on Saturday, watching the water sheet off of the hill behind the house and exit the French drain down to the street. Rain continued intermittently on Sunday, when I ventured out across the valley to an early afternoon social engagement.

When it was time to return home, I decided to take the “long way”, sticking to small roads to check out the wildlife activity in our area. The snow geese are flocking in by the hundreds now. One can spot families of Canada geese, who are now pairing off in committed couples and settling on nesting territories to raise their broods. Last year was a bumper year for them, some had clutches with more than 12 chicks. When I see these geese pairing up, it reminds me of Spring…

I saw a large bird in the center of road, probably struck and killed by one of many large trucks that transect this lonely part of northeastern California. I pulled over to the side of the road, and went to remove the bird to place it in an adjoining field. It was a large Rough-legged Hawk and it appeared to have been lying on the road for some time. It was soaked through, feathers dripping with water. I lifted the bird off of the tarmac and walked to the nearby pasture, placing it just inside the fence line.

Walking back to my car, I noticed some of its feathers scattered along the roadside. I think they may have come off the bird upon impact. I walked along and gathered them up one by one. The feathers were in very poor shape … soaking wet and split apart. I went to place them with the hawk but as I bent down over the fence, I heard the words “Remember me”.
“Remember you?” I asked aloud as I looked at the ruined feathers in my hand. “I will try,” I spoke gently as I turned to go, laying the feathers carefully in the front seat of my car…..

How does one “Remember” an animal one has never met before? I kept turning that question over in my mind. I had no particular use for the feathers, but laid them out to dry in my bedroom. I looked at them at night when getting ready to retire, and would see them in the morning when I turned them over to assist the drying process. The edges of the feathers were shaggy, torn apart by the forces of the accident, the wind and rain. So, what did I need to learn and Remember about this creature?

Rough-legged hawks are a true arctic species …. Say what? They are from the North? Yes. They evolved under arctic conditions. They nest on cliffs, although pairs have been known to exploit other nesting areas like trees at the fringe of forests or on human-made structures. In winter, these hawks concentrate in open areas reminiscent of their tundra summer haunts, including pastures, marshy areas, and wet meadows … and that is exactly the habitat in which I found this bird.

Feather anatomy 101 (looking up info on the internet) validated that the feathers I collected were 6 secondary wing feathers (3 from each wing) and 1 tail feather and a few “downy” ones that were fluffy and soft. The purpose of the secondary feathers in a bird wing is to sustain the bird in the air by giving it “lift”. The tail feathers on a bird are analogous to the rudder of a ship or boat. They help them steer and maneuver while flying, as well as provide stability as they take-off and land. The downy feathers are usually located on the belly and provide thermal insulation, keeping the bird warm in winter months.

Last Wednesday, an impression came to mind to make a ritual fan for smudging sage with the feathers. Stranger ideas have come to me before … why not this project? To tell the truth, I really have not embraced spiritual rituals in my life. I may wave around a smoldering bundle of sage to freshen the house or leave tobacco or apples as a gift when walking in Nature. Yet I have not really introduced spiritual ritual in any form. I have set up an altar in my room, but only spend a cursory examination of it a couple of times during a day.

What I know about personal altars is that they are a place to hold prayers and intentions, as well as a focus for expressing and “Remembering” love and connection to Spirit… a place where non-ordinary reality is held within ordinary reality. Also a “Remembering” place of my ancestors, of my relationships within the Planetary Family, and what it means to Walk in Beauty as a true Human Being… “Remembering”….

This bird has truly given me profound lessons through its gift of feathers:
(1) It has validated my walk in the North of the Medicine Wheel, in Wisdom;
(2) I am encouraged to initiate a regular pattern of “Remembering” each day;
(3) Trust the rudder of Spirit as my guide, it will sustain and lift me in the flight of my remaining Journey;
(4) And to “Remember” my other Relations in Nature. To embrace them as guides and reflections of my own Heart….

These past 3 weeks walking with Talks with Relations, the first Clan Mother of the full moon, has been a Teaching. Just a little more illumination and understanding about how absolutely everything in Nature communicates through mirroring and direct teaching through example. I welcome the gifts of Wolf and Hawk. I now know to begin at the beginning … to seek and restore Harmony within myself and to “Remember” to honor the connection to my other kin with recognition and gratitude….

Shifting ….

There is a global tension being felt in the undercurrent of Life in response to climate and environmental change. I am well aware of the large effects occurring in this Time of Turning to habitat, water, air and to other living Beings. The news is full of information every morning I open the page. I find my emotions ricocheted across this spectrum most days which is not sustainable or healthy for my body or soul. Change is a fact, one of the key Truths of this World. Some changes are quicker in their effects on short term and long term trajectories. Some are downright terrifying.

I am driven to Hope in the thick of everything that is going on. Emotionally responding to current news is exhausting. We do not know how things are going to right themselves in the long run as Mother Earth works her way to a new Balance and Equilibrium. We can imagine, throw pictures onto the screen of the minds eye, but those images are not Truth….they are only images fed by projection and Hollywood science fiction movies. The question I seek an answer to is “How do I Stand as a true human being in these times?”

What is easily lost in the cacophony of these portents is the reality that something is deeper at work here. Something which is in All and pierces All, a subtle force of Light which Holds everything within its grasp of the cosmos. Over 110 billion humans have walked on the face of this Planet, some now living but most have passed on. Just like cells in a body, human creatures are a catalyst of Change to the surface of the Earth. Mother made us, feeds us, has sustained the existence of the hominid species for a little over 1.6 million years. WE may feel that we are the key components of driving change in this World, but keep in mind that Gaea has a purpose of her own in all of this, far greater than we can ever imagine.

I am choosing to Shift my Gaze, to look for the Light, the Miracle which lies within the calyx of a flower, in the Blessed alchemy of Water, in the creative force of Fire, in the cycles of the atmosphere and the gigantic processes of Earth. I choose to Shift my Gaze, to embrace a deep trust in this Planet and its processes. It “knows” what It is doing, even though it may result in the demise of our species. Life begets Life, one form replaces another. Disturbance is one of the driving principles in the creation and maintenance of that Life force here….

When I embrace a deep Trust in Nature, I no longer feel Fear. When I work in collaboration with these forces, I feel a keen sense of Balance. When I stir my compost piles, I Trust in the microbes to replenish the soil, they simply know what to do. They work in accordance with bacterial processes and enzymes, with frost and heaving cycles, with the rainfall that falls to the Earth… bringing Change to the rhizosphere which then feeds other organisms including trees and plants.

It is my Trust that propels me into Action, but without the Fear. It is my Trust that silently welcomes Hope to my world-weary Heart, like the dew on a meadow at dawn. My Trust launches me into joining my Heart to the persistent Light which underscores all things. Something elusive, but clearly perceived in my peripheral vision. It’s constancy a refuge, a balm to my news-weary Soul….