Devil’s Gulch with Armando – 1 April 2013

Twas super to see Armando again after too long. Was the last time on the Miwok Trail Hike on May 7, 2012? Much water under the bridge or over the dam and some even up the creek where we hiked. At last, Armand got to meet Armando, a sprightly and convivial moment – could be nothing less. Mando led off with his latest life lesson, “embracing ambiguity”. He relayed he’d been observing how one group of people has “answers”, another group has “questions” and that it was important to get these groups talking, sharing and interacting together. Later as we walked up Devil’s Gulch, he added that we talk about “restoration” of an ecosystem though we have a very imperfect understanding of all that is involved. We can never really restore a natural system to its original pristine moment in time and what is that moment? He mentioned as an example the remarkable survival of the ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees in the high altitudes of the White Mountains of Inyo County. How much do we know about their survival strategies? How many times have they faced climate changes, draught and fire in the last 5,000 years? Mando said that the Bristlecones have developed two distinctive types of nitrogen-fixing organisms some that are active during dry times and others for the wet. How much we don’t know, how much to learn and how do we learn?

Armando shared that this last trip to Baja (his third with Michael) had been particularly remarkable, so much so that it had moved his orientations and was creating new parameters. At night, they slept with the door of their deck cabin open to the breezes. He said he could hear the great breathings of whales and other creatures as they came by next to the boat – sleeping and dreaming with the whales.

Ambiguity, you can’t just slide the questions or the answers off the shelf. New ways of sensing, feeling, thinking, organizing, disorganizing, approaching, retiring, straight lining (bee lining!), convoluting, engaging, disengaging, new languages and maybe “paradigm shifting” though that seems pretty worn by now – too much a finale or summary of what’s gone before rather than the beginning of a/the quest, of what’s to come.

Armando read us some of the poetry and haiku of the remarkable Kenneth Rexroth who wrote many of his most beautiful works “while living in a little abandoned cabin that he discovered in the woods of Marin County, California (in what is now Samuel P. Taylor State Park).”

“”By 1950 Rexroth had established himself – through hard work and sheer ambition – at the center of San Francisco literary life. He not only published national journals but also conducted a weekly book-review show on Berkeley’s newly established KPFA, the nation’s first listener sponsored radio station. A public spokesman for modernist literature, political dissent, and alternate lifestyles, Rexroth become the elder statesman of the new Beat movement emerging in San Francisco.”
(California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present, ed. Dana Gioia et al, Heyday Books, 2004, p. 75)

Umbrellas sprout along with mushrooms in Devil’s Gulch

Perhaps some older “librarian” salmon that would do the shushing

ANOTHER SPRING by Kenneth Rexroth


On the Spring stream bed about to spot some fry: Includes neat video of some Steelhead in Lagunitas Creek on March 9. 2013

Heading up among the teasel with a fruit tree from the old farm beginning to bloom. Armando talked about our lack of information about water. How much do you and I use each day? How much does it cost? What percentage of the pure, clean water we use goes to drinking? (Hint: 6 %) What are the costs of water for growers in the Central Valley who use thousands of gallons at a time? What strategies do we have for conservation? Do you know how much of your water bill is for electricity – pumping the water? Mando is writing an article about water for the IJ. He’s a Director at the Marin Municipal Water District. Armand pointed out that an enormous amount of water must be lost by evaporation at it moves down the aqueduct. Armando related his experience showing Hetch Hetchy to a group of visiting international park directors. He was pointing out this magnificent water that needed no filtering before it was used in San Francisco and then related how it was used for almost everything but drinking. One of the directors from a water poor country was shocked, saddened and outraged at our wanton water attitudes. “How could you do this?” How do we use gray water? How do we recycle it? Can we finally develop two sets of pipes in housing? What happens if we don’t develop an effective strategy and we get into a series of drought years. We are looking at a very dry year. Armando said that our current supply at present usage could last for two years, what happens after that?

Samuel Penfield Taylor was a remarkable entrepreneur who came to California during the gold rush arriving late in 1849 after a ten month voyage from Boston Harbor.
Had he arrived at the start of Silicon Valley, he would have been right at home. His wife was likewise full partner in his progress as well as hewing out a remarkable life of her own. Here’s are some terrific write-ups of their lives with many fascinating details, they were remarkable people. Her ashes were placed in the grave next to his remains only after MUCH red tape almost a hundred years later!

At the grave site Armando talks about their remarkable lives and shares some thoughts about future developments in the California State Park System. He’s been working at the table with the group making recommendations for the future.

HOJOKI by Kenneth Rexroth

A thing unknown for years,
Rain falls heavily in June,
On the ripe cherries, and on
the half cut hay.
Above the glittering
Grey water of the inlet,
In the driving, light filled mist
A blue heron
Catches mice in the green
And copper and citron swathes.
I walk on the rainy hills.
It is enough.

P.S. Here’s a superb video, OVERVIEW, that speaks to that ambiguity: Best thoughts, Lew

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