the land is a living thing
first off, thank you all so much for your kind words and wonderful advice on my last post about my sister. she is feeling better and i think she's really starting to get the hang of it :)
so for valentine's day we made a little excursion to our southern neighboring gold rush towns, sutter creek, jackson, and pine grove. after the big bookstore in jackson and some thrifting, we headed out the lovely ridge road to Indian Grinding Rock State Park.
it was a perfectly peaceful and quiet afternoon and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. only thing is, the museum closed at 3 pm; we just missed it. oh well, we got to picnic and explore at length till the sun went down.
lucy loved feeling the bark of the big old valley oak. called mo'lla by the native people, these oaks are about 300 years old. that means that the acorns from this very tree were harvested and ground by Miwok people living on the land here long long ago, that they gathered under these branches to talk and tell stories. and maybe their babies sat on this soft squishy early spring ground and plucked pine needles and dry leaves up with their chubby hands.
the grinding rock itself is the largest collection of bedrock mortars in the united states, hundreds of smoothed out bowls where the miwok women ground their acorn meal. the rock is known as "chaw-se" in Miwok and here and now, fenced off from the dusty holes, it is almost hard to imagine what a bustling kitchen this once was. and yet i could feel whispers of them in the quiet dusky light, the women who lived in this lush forest with their families and were constantly aware of the life in the land. as they gathered, as they ground, as they sang, and as they fed their children, the wind and scattering leaves, the coyotes and deer, wormwood and cedar, were fueling their stories and always making life real and full of meaning.
a recreated village next to the meadow at the opening to the forest. little houses (u'macha) cozy and sturdy, next to the most inviting woodpile i've ever seen. the houses, made from elements of the land, wild grapevine and willow bark and cedar bough, were alive to the people just as the land itself. i like to think of a house that way.
woodpiles are beautiful.
we traversed the forest trails until our babe fell asleep.
maybe we'll come back in a couple months when the wildflowers burst forth. apparently there are over 130 species of native plants and flowers here, including shooting stars, mariposa lily, monkeyflower, and wild iris.
there's a campground: maybe next time we'll even spend the night under the stars and wake up to the hermit thrush and woodpecker and catch a glimpse of a silver fox. little messengers from the wild past, from our wild hearts, from the land that lives on and on.
it's a good place to be a family.