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.


Joanne said…
oh my goodness! that last photo is the best family portrait I have ever seen! this park looks amazing :)
love to you! Joanne xx
Milla said…
wow. when will YOU write that book I keep expecting? Thank you for this little stroll with your fam. You guys are so inspiring for adventures. You make me want to wander. Love to you.
Trish said…
What a beautiful place... x
Mrs. Habit said…
so beautiful. so inspiring. and yes, write that BOOK!
Anonymous said…
Lucy is such the valentiney baby snack! both you girls look lovely in your frocks. also, thank you for taking us with you on your explores. i've always wanted to see a grinding rock like that. there's one in the northbay and now you've inspired me to seek it out. most of all, that pic of darin and lucy in the u'macha is AMAZING.

love you heather!
Heather said…
That place looks gorgeous I so need a nature walk the weather has been so up and down you really have to take advantage of the nice days ~Lucy is just so cute!! beautiful family picture love Heather
Tera said…
Loved reading this!!! How lucky you are. Our family day consisted of a brief hour in search of a bit of grass. We are in Oklahoma...we found that there is a problem with finding just a tiny mat of grass in this state. What with all the advertisements and flyers we saw yesterday for spray painting lawns green! Then we spotted actually painted lawns. Like a yard version/grass version of Kim Kardashian(sp?) So fake! Anyway, that was sad and funny. But how rotten is the soil and how beyond repair is it getting with spray paint seeing into it every few months! I kept thinking compost, aeration, worms!!! Yes, once we leave OK I sadly, never wish to return. Although this duplex will forever hold a place in my heart as August has had so many first right here :)
Amy Beatty said…
ooo i need to go there!! I love when you get places all to yourself. it makes it all so magical. we were at bryce this last weekend and didn't realize we booked our room during their yearly winter fest. totally not cool. even though we did like the free kids crafts and matt and I even got to take turns doing yoga in the morning - i have no words for that greatness. but anyways bryce was so darn packed for winter. usually we are the only ones on those snowy trails. we did get red canyon all to our selfs though and it was pure heaven. just walking up the dry river bed (the one we did etsy photos in on the beatty camp out)but it was a river of snow and the only foot prints were ours and the animals just winding up the river through the reddest of rock. its a real picture perfect moment. of course I couldn't help think of ade and ute and I just knew/know they are going to have the grandest of adventures in their futures. I'm so very excited for her. as soon as she can get over this awful bump in the road she is going to be a new lady - momma!! its so awful she has to go through this now :( p.s luc in that stroller is the greatest along with your darling family photo xoxo you guys are just such sweet peaches
dolly anna said…
that place is amazing, i'm so glad lucy can explore such sweet spaces with her rad ass parents!!!

it's so great to be on a land that is shadowed with the wisdom of ancient ones, who cared for the land and had such an intimate knowledge of everything that grew upon it.

some day soon, when spring is really here let's go on a picnic to some very beautiful magical chaw'se right in our hood! (my old hood, at least. ;) )

love that last pic. winners!


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