Saturday, May 12, 2012

Crows, Bears & Wondrous Creatures  This crow is from one of the sites on that link, my photographs were stolen with my laptop from LAX during security check there.

This, below is a link to a video of a 1960s convent in Seattle. Amy took me there. It's by Puget Sound.  It's one of Amy's favourite places and so beautiful.
Seattle seems as far away as the moon and as close as a walk round the corner to the dairy, a corner shop in our neighbourhood here, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand where I spent the first week home thinking everything was far too strange in my homeland and I'd never adjust to living here ever again. But even if Seattle is weeks away by boat and days away by plane, it's here in my mind as clearly as if I could look out the window and see mountains there against the sky. Every, (much smaller) black bird in my garden I see reminds me of a crow and some look at me as if they know it. We don't have crows here but Seattle has as many crows as we have sparrows or pigeons, it seemed to me.

In Seattle, I loved Amy's Chicken Marsala, butter, garlic, sweet marsala (sherry), chicken stock and even though I'm now vegetarian, to help cover the carbon for this trip and save the world, I think I could adapt this for a sauce with something else like chickpeas, (yes, the pun is intended). Amy's lovely house also an inspiration, so romantic and mainly created by her with some family assistance, I love painting murals at my own place indoors however she's not only painted friezes and embellishments, but also moulded grapes in her kitchen onto the wall with plaster, and created 'Victorian' furniture from various pieces of everyday wooden this and that. Loved the tall cabinet hiding the TV, an artist's touch with all she embellishes. This is a wooden chest Amy painted with those golden letters, hand-painted. 

Loved the bear story Amy told me too, when Dean was driving us round the city. This swing towards such a narrative, because I wanted to know about snakes, coyotes and scary creatures, any I needed to be aware of in case they attacked me or I stepped on them and they bit, with venom too then my swift demise could've appeared as the worst end to a holiday ever. Snakes I needed to know about especially, I do like snakes but prefer to see them in a pet shop, 'Seriously, tell me if you have snakes here, poisonous ones.'

Amy and Dean laughed at me. They have no poisonous snakes in Seattle. All the scary snakes nearby they insisted were waaay over the mountains in the lower, warmer territories there. Seattle too high up for those dangerous slitherers, too cold, they couldn't survive. They do have some harmless-to-humans-snakes, which Amy mentioned, 'I see them in the garden with a slug in their mouth. I hate them.'

'What say the rattlenakes wriggled over the mountains?' I asked, while hopefully believing no snake lives in extra-cold weather and mountains are usually chilly, even if there's no snow. The air is thinner the higher we go so it traps less and less of the sun's heat.

We all laughed at this point if I recall. The days I was there were mainly spent in smiling and laughing around lengthy conversations, except a few times when I asked too many questions or made comments about things it was presumed I knew nothing about. Being from a small place at the edge of the world, I noticed my novelty value far exceeded anything I could've imagined, while my credibility waned somewhat or a lot, rather often. That we have an excellent education system in New Zealand especially when I was growing up, (less so now possibly, but that's a world-wide malaise), that I've a recent degree in International Communication, have travelled the world and worked with people overseas for years online too in education, plus all the books et cetera I've had published, this seemed at times to fade away into somewhere called, 'unknown and probably not that important'. Now and then I realised with dismay and some strange amusement that I simply had to accept the role of woman-from-nowhere, but then I am fond of nothingness, I find it saves me.  Levelling too, humbling I think, good for someone as ebullient and noisy as I tend to be, usually.

After all the alarming talk of snakes and coyotes in any case, Amy piped up from the back seat, 'O but there was a bear though.' We were still cruising along the freeway, these roads go on like an engineer's dream.

I glanced round the edges of the road where we glided along with all the carefree abandon of people who believe cars will do this forever. The road itself a fantastic arrangement of beautifully engineered solid tarmac, concrete and occasional steel grey fences flashed past beside us when we coursed above another freeway, or over a stream or river. Seattle has many lakes too; sheets of shining water floated by occasionally, edged with deep green forest. Enormous dark trees grew close to the berm and back into hills, they filled dips; trees like spruce, fir and so on spiked the greyish sky. 'O yeess? A bear?' 

I hoped we weren't going to stop and maybe go looking for one of those, I wasn't sure I would know what to do if I found one. I believe there's no point in running. I'd read that no person can ever outrun a bear. I think getting up a tree was best or making oneself look enormous, standing tall like you could fight if you had to and also, talking softly, being non-threatening which seemed an oxymoron. I wasn't going on any forested hikes in any case, no matter what these two dear friends of mine suggested.

Now, this is not from a tape recording you understanding, I am recalling Amy, my friend telling this story. But it went something like this - 'Yes, a bear appeared on the roads around here, on the freeway. It was a lost bear,' Amy said in Dean's car, seated behind me.

'O no, a lost bear?' I felt so sorry for the creature. In a massive city, (Seattle's extremely urban but also seems like something out of Grimm Fairytales with dark spiky trees, crows, enormous mountains all around and shaggy creatures inhabiting thoroughfares), I too felt rather lost but would never have admitted it at the time. The bear and I, we'd wandered in from somewhere else and now, how could we ever get back to where we were? 

(I wasn't to know then that I would never ever get back to anywhere near where I was before, that this path I'd taken would eventuate in so many changes I'd often find myself thinking I'd entered a new body and personality, a whole new future too, later on. It's been a revelation, a shock and impossible to ignore).

Amy went on, 'Yes, it was a lost bear. The bear found itself on the freeway and lived round here for some time. People would see the lost bear and report it to the local news. They'd have stories on TV, saying where the lost bear was that day. Once, the bear was seen on this bridge like the one coming up now, it was leaning on the railing and staring off into the forest as if wishing it could find a way back there. But it didn't know how to navigate the way.' I loved the way Amy told this story. Her accent is charming and she has a slightly husky voice too, with a great deal of humour just behind the words which lifts them.

I grew more and more distressed, (to myself), about this enormous hairy black bear alone on the spectacular Seattle freeway with traffic zooming by, a wild creature without much to eat or a quiet place to sleep. Although I supposed it could pick up edibles people threw from their cars. Motorways, (as we call them) have lots of rubbish along their edges. Careless people toss out half-eaten fast food, crusts off sandwiches, packets with traces of chips and that kind of thing, apple cores... in NZ wild apple trees grow here and there in lush native greenery, (sprouted from apple cores tossed from cars) which cause problems in indigenous bushland. Those wild apples, I'd heard, feed too many possums, (a pest here). (Never throw anything from a car. But I could see a bear would like finding these tasty treats, humanity's discards, even if I imagined too the animal would not flourish on the processed stuff. 
I think at this point I made some worried remarks.

'O eventually they caught the bear and took it back to the forest,' Amy explained, laughing pleasantly.

I still think of that dark, shaggy bear on the well-made road at a grey railing on a freeway bridge, the animal gazing off into the dark evergreen trees of Seattle, as if it wished it could get back there simply by wanting to be home. Cars whooshing past at great speed behind it and some people using their cellphones to alert the media about what this lost animal was doing, that moment.

Then I see the creature hit with a tranquiliser dart perhaps and lifted on a canvas swing into a sturdy wooden box, with airholes. Soon, transported to be let out of the box, how it must've gratefully sniffed the air as it lumbered away and felt at home again. Would a bear feel grateful? I think so.

Now, here I am in a wild forest of thought back home. There may be something like bears in here with me along with other creatures I'm not sure of, or whose purpose I do not know. 

Lately, since my American trip I believe I receive messages from birds. My friend on this blog, j commented - 'My Cherokee connection tells me to inform you the eagle is a messenger between the earth and spirit world. When an eagle swoons you in peace he is letting you know your spirit guides are guarding you in your journey and is willing to deliver a message in return. '

I'd pointed to the eagle circling where we could clearly see it making a circle against the sky, apparently just for us at Galesburg Railway Station. This occurred at a later time, (after Seattle). I sat there with another Cherokee friend of mine, (who's an amazing photographer by the way) and said the eagle was someone I know really well. I believed they were thinking of me and wishing me the best.

Briefly in an aside I'd like to say, I consider the spirit world or the unseen includes my imagination, emotions, my mysterious connection to people and places far from here or near and much more, and I'm heartened to think birds, (my favourite animal) now assist me to feel at home in the magical place the world has become since my poetic journey to America as it was but now, there's more. 

The trip has not ended and probably never will, I journey back there constantly through my strong emotional attachment to the people I know and love so much there, through reading my notebooks, looking at photographs and films, corresponding with my American friends online and through every time I experience something of their culture while I am here, at home. While the extraordinary bond I've developed for over 12 years now with one friend in particular appears to be taking me into the realms of self-development in ways I never realised I needed, nor knew I was capable of, not quite. 

I'd considered I had to accept I was hopeless at relationships and could never learn better, but now I see that was but is not now the case. It could be tough, frightening and a challenge but I may discover decent abilities with developing more trust, better attitudes, I could create wise and useful behaviours, find myself at home in an intimate situation without harm and further, work together with like-minded others along with those who may not always understand me, to discover results are realistic, exemplary and rewarding for those concerned. The first step has to be accepting this fine possibility and I certainly do. Yes. I do. Indeed, deed, do.

This education, this life, this is.



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