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.

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.

In Memory of a Friend …

In memory of my friend Russell Medina who passed away in the early morning hours – 1 year ago. Those of us who were together in vigil that night will be coming together once again this evening … I wrote about his passing last year and read this essay to his family and friends at his funeral. I have prepared copies to hand out to the Circle tonight …


My friend, Russell Medina, died early this morning before dawn. I have had the privilege to sit by his side for the past few days, keeping his wife company as we Stood Watch over his transformation. She had brought him home from the city last Sunday so he could die at home. He had been hospitalized in a major city off and on since last May. About six months ago, they had decided to move from our rural community to be closer to the medical care he needed. In doing so, they left behind their small, integral group of friends and community they had grown with over the past 16 years.

Russell was dying…. And he asked his wife to move them back to their cabin home where he could pass on in peace. Heeding his wishes, she and his daughter had him transported by ambulance to their cabin this past Sunday. Only 4 days ago. When I learned that they had arrived, I took my place with others who came to Support, Hold and Witness his passing with his wife.

It is always an Honor to have the opportunity to tell a loved one goodbye before they die. To Speak words which lay unspoken in the Heart, to offer thanks for their presence and friendship in our lives. I met my friend and his wife in church when they first arrived. He was of “American Indian” ancestry, a title he preferred to be identified with over “Native American”. He was a Medicine Man in his own right, offering ceremonies for Blessing of people and places. He told me a few years ago that he no longer “felt the presence of” his Medicine in his hands….it was gone, and with it went his Song and ability to drum for periods of time. He had asked me to create a new drum, a shield, for him last year and I happily obliged.

Yesterday, it was obvious that he would be “putting down his robe” soon. A group of us, seven in all, had gathered to Watch and wish him Godspeed for his journey. We gathered on the veranda outside of his room in the evening, a little before sunset. We sat in a semi-circle facing north. We had a magnificent view of our valley which ends at the base of Fox Mountain, a sacred place for me. Light evening thundershowers were passing overhead, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

We were relaxing, some with drinks in our hands, voices low in laughter and conversation when a thick lightning bolt came and slammed into the Mountain directly in front of us. All of us saw it, together… Moments later we are reaching for our phones to notify the local sheriff office to report that open flame was visible from the lightning strike. We all sat and watched as a helicopter appeared to size up the situation, and as fire engines began to pick their way across the landscape to reach the fire. The fire spread to about 20 acres real quickly, glowing bright orange and yellow as darkness fell. I drove home late, watching the fire blaze bright into the early morning hours.

I received a phone call early this morning from his wife, telling me that Russell was gone. I jumped into the shower to quickly wash up, threw on some clothes and drove to their home immediately to be with her and his daughter. While driving there, I heard a small chuckle in my Heart….Russell had said his goodbye in a powerful way…..He left us his bon voyage gift…..”Fire on the Mountain” to those of us who Stood by him to send him off, his “Medicine” fully returned.

All Blessings my Friend and Love…..Godspeed.”


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….

Another New Year ….

I was out walking in a place of quietness this New Years Day …. No people, no cars, no one but myself for miles around to take it all in. Just me and the merlins, or marsh hawks, out hunting for their supper. Open spaces clean out the pipes, so I say. The air strengthens me, pulling the dullness and dross from my Spirit created by an over dependence and indulgence in modern luxuries. The background hum from electricity, radio frequencies, and now 5G in our living environments  rattles my central nervous system and can make my ears ring. As a respite, I take the time to get outside away from such concentrated frequency bombardment.  I recommend you do too, everyday, come rain or come shine. Where else can one listen to the music of the bull rush and the cattail swaying surreptitiously in the afternoon wind? Bundle up, buckaroo ….

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….

Tuesday Night Belly Button Musings…

Belly Button Musings on a Tuesday Night….

This process we call Life can never be “won”, only played from the authetic center of who I am, who You are. We stand in “this” moment … connected with all that has gone on before, all that is going on now, and with everything that is yet to come to this Planet. We are part of a colossal epic, whose story is measured in geologic time. Eons made up of star dust and processes that stretch back billions of years … which will continue on in its own fluid trajectory for billions more.

We are a conscious creation, hardwired to thousands of intricate layers of interdependent relationships which are essential for the creation and sustainability of Life in all its forms. Fungi depend upon bacteria, bacteria depend on enzymes, enzymes feed off of basic minerals and release their waste into their surroundings. We are Children of Gaea, awake in a realm of potential, possibility, creativity… of things being born, and of things dying. Delicate and perceptive, we travel a fragile journey with and in this Mystery of staggering Beauty.

It is the mind that creates separation, it severs the Soul from the rich soil of its Beginnings… It tricks us into “thinking” we are adrift, in disjunction with that which has both birthed and sustains us. Ask the Stone People, who are the Memory Keepers of this Place, about our story. Ask about the stories of all of the Children who have Risen in this place. They knew this World before even water was brought from the sky, before the oceans were born. Ask them about the intricacies of Balance, of the self-regulation of homeostasis that lies deep within the fabric of this World…. A World that creates consciousness in its many varied offspring…

I can only Stand mute before my Mother… squishing my toes into Her mud as my eyes and ears are filled with the cacophony of bird song winging overhead. I weep from the Fullness of a driving west wind against my back. And whisper a prayer of deep gratitude when listening to the heartbeat within my own chest….