Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dreaming of AnEndless Summer

Here in Richmond, amid the humid stickiness that shrink wraps the clothes to ones back, people tend to complain about the summer heat. It's a wave of it right now, a smackdown of 100 degree weather that is unorthodox for these parts, where usually they crank the A/C up to deal with 90 degree heat round' this time.

I love it. Every sweat driblet. Sure, the James River would be nicer if it was actually cool, not so near the same temperature as the air. I guess that's what happens when it is so low. But nevertheless I could grow really used to living like this. And the evenings surpass pleasant. They're downright grand.

Now mid day I am still not apt to go for a jog or anything, and the shade, at that time is definitely preferable than the sun light. Yet the shade is entirely bearable, and while the rest of my family is sheltered in the dehumidified carbon intensive interior air of the townhouse, I will most likely
be found swinging on the porch swing reading a book, soaking up my environment and very content to do so.

Winter is miserable. No matter how pretty a coating of snow can be, I hate it. I hate being stuck inside.

Even California winters are too cold for me, I now realize. I like being half naked, barefoot, and warm. Perhaps my thyroid is sensitive or something but after a week of overcast skies I feel seriously lacking, like mother earth has robbed my of my UV prosac, upon which I have developed a thorough dependency.

Monday, June 9, 2008

To Richmond, East


Now in Richmond, among the quaint buildings and scrunched together streets. It seems as thought there is a higher ratio of occupied space to streets here than there is in most West Coast cities. Everything just seems closer together. I like it.

I read in a book about Bangkok that that city is 16% streets to occupied space, London 24% and New York 32% give or take. L.A. must be 40% I'm guessing.

I am very interested in traveling anywhere where there is less space occupied by cars and more foot traffic. In regards to Bangkok, that would mean Sois, very small streets with little room for cars. Of course, pedestrian malls are always nice too, but at least on a small street, even if cars are allowed, everything is much more intimate and one can actually see the people across the street well, rather than a sea of cars monopolizing the entire landscape.

Here in Richmond things are very nice. I escaped the rain and gloom of Seattle, for which my threshold reduces seemingly by the year. This spring in particular has been lacking in clear sunny days. I am simply not cut our for being stuck indoors all day every day, as my hyperactivity is severe.

There is a river, the James, running directly through town here in Richmond. Apparently it has been cleaned up in recent years and it is fine to swim in. My cousins and I went there yesterday. We all forded to the other side, Annie, the youngest at ten years, on my back holding tight, Eleanor, the second oldest to me, down river from us a ways to catch Annie in case she was pulled off of me, and Andrew and Gray taking up the perimeter. It was a wonderful experience with nature, right in the middle of a semi large city and not far off from perfection.

Andrew at one point saw a snake in the river which I went after, Gray, our resident snake expert, having told me it was a harmless species. After I had the serpent by the tail everyone changed their song, and all of a sudden I was holding a potentially poisonous species.

"It might be a Cottonmouth!" Andrew and Gray exclaimed. I dropped it back into the water, worried that I had broken it's tail while it helicoptered in my hand.

The people here in Richmond are nice too, not all sodden and opposed to interaction as seems to be the status quo in Seattle. At one point during our wade, we came upon a rock with some beer drinking college students posted on it with a cooler, right in the middle of the entirely shallow river. We had just made our way half back from the other side to the shore where we began, and we rested there.

"There's a nice spot to jump off into right there." Said one of the guys.

"I have a paranoia of breaking a leg." I said. It was true. Strange water I am never eager to jump into without making sure it is clear of rocks and debris.

"Oh it's perfectly safe," the sole girl of their trio said matter-of-factly. "See, watch, it is plenty deep, you just need to jump in right where I do," and then she hopped in, a girl after my own heart.

After she got out she and her friends debated which exact spot was ideal to hop into. Granted, this was a whole one foot of a drop, "Not too extreme," as one of the young men mused.

I hopped in, touched the bottom, and managed not to break my leg.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Back out at Camp now, Monroe, Washington. Rain, rain and more rain. Yay.

Wouldn't be so bad if there was dry firewood and a covered fire pit to chill at, but the entire place is waterlogged...including the logs, and Chris, the camp director, sold the metal car port shelter that made such a nice covering to have a fire under last time I was out here three years ago.

We worked on the dock at the lake, had a few conversations about things.

Last year a few interns had left at the last moment and he was high and dry for help with camp for the summer, his counselors working over time.

"Those interns just got frustrated, they needed my attention constantly, like I was their daddy."

I wanted to sympathize with them. I too had had similar feelings the first time I had come out to camp. The way Chris' web site made it seem, he was highly organized and structured. He even professed that structure was important. How could one blame the interns for feeling gypped? Going back to the land and practicing earth skills is a difficult and trans formative process. Chris set himself up as a sort of guru to guide people on this journey then complained when his students complained about him falling short of near perfection.

My perspective is entirely different. To me, the first order of business is fire. When I am in the wilderness, at a summer camp, or just hanging out on some dudes property as is more accurate in regards to Chris' situation, I don't feel much implored to do anything until I have a nice stash of firewood.

Firewood wise, the situation at camp is abysmal. Basically it's all wet, none chopped. I find myself asking over and over, how can we have a summer camp if the only dry wood we have to burn is left over 2x4 scraps from different building projects?

That Chris is disorganized is acceptable. That he is disorganized and simultaneously seeks to establish himself as an authority is absurd. He once told me, "Teaching is about manipulation and control." Gee thanks Edward Bernays. Sure, if one wants to argue that the only way to keep throngs of people from turning on each other as if they were chickens in a crowded coup then perhaps manipulation and control of them is in order. But speak to any individual with their wits about them and they would hardly feel free to submit to such a course of action. I guess all robots should not become self aware. Maybe I should keep my anti authoritarianism to myself, as a nation of critical thinkers would be essentially leaderless.

Leadership can accomplish things much more quickly than a mass of bickering independent thinkers seeking consensus, but 90% of everything is crap, including politicians, teachers and cops. Due in part to my lack of good parental guidance, I spent much of my extended adolescence seeking that difficult to access 10% of leaders that is not in fact crap.

Back to the fire, I am all about it. Fire is my element, perhaps because I am an agent of change. Earth, wind/air, and water all change slowly. Fire can change the landscape within between minutes and hours given certain conditions. So it is a nor brainer that being in the middle of the forest, in the Pacific Northwest, during rain season, without dry firewood, is not a very comfy situation for me. I need fire like I need food.

But here I am again. It seems like all I can do is criticize. What about me? Am I immune to criticism? Well, I am a hell of a lot more immune than people who attempt to assert authority over others. And no one anywhere can challenge my pragmatism. I am more military minded than just about anyone.

"One day you're going to need to learn to accept authority Gabe." I remember Chris telling me years ago.

My only retort is, what revolution was accomplished by people who accepted authority? What significant change has occurred due to people who do not question authority? More often than not it is rebellious people that do all the leg work in progress. So I decided not to salute Chris when he asserted that I was in dire need of structure. As if he could provide it anyways.

Nevertheless Chris is a good guy and I do consider him my friend. And he deserves to have me speak my mind freely regarding my assessments of him and his authority.