EIGHT MONTHS have elapsed since my last post. Delays happen though, when one takes off on a wild adventure and then intends to write about it, and then things get so wild that one doesn’t make space for writing. But the long pause can be a plus, in that it offers one space to observe a cluster of events and explore the ways in which such events connect from a vantage point that play-by-plays don’t cover.
So there I was, having returned triumphantly to Bramble Mountain with The Beanstalk. No sooner had I resumed my deep gazing over the wooded hillsides when it came. Everyone’s nightmare. COVID-19. It got Craig, and then Autumn and Noah. While the family isolated and recovered in their cob house down-mountain, my kids and I quarantined in the upper camp where The Beanstalk was planted. In the end, those of us in the camp tested negative for the virus and rejoiced. But the peace was short-lived.
Mid-December 2020, my kids’ dad pulled the rug/plug. Instead of returning the children to me at the end of the weekend per our co-parenting rhythm, Keith informed me via telephone that I wouldn’t be getting them back at all. Rather, he would be moving the children to his father’s house in San Diego. I couldn’t see them, because I wasn’t in their bubble, and it wasn’t possible to be in their bubble, because I lived in community on Bramble Mountain.
The play-by-play of this time period can be condensed into a single, soul-shattering howl.
Amidst the grief and rage, I focused my energy and orchestrated a move back to San Diego. I obtained a joint custody order and was reunited with my kids after six weeks of separation.
The Beanstalk found a landing place in the hills east of town, on a property owned by dear friends with two boys close in age to Lily and Rose: Mama Bear Sanctuary 3.0. I carried on with my commitment to a regenerative lifestyle by supporting the growth and development of two dream seeds: Good Shepherds and The Sweet Spot Farm. I built websites, created content, produced events, designed marketing material, wrote business plans, and more. By June, both dream seeds had achieved dynamic traction.
Most notably, working with the Good Shepherds hacked me into the marginal housing system. Whereas trailer living on a rural farm in Mendocino County sits nicely, in San Diego it’s illegal. Neighbors will call and report you to authorities. However, when you’re a shepherd managing a herd of grazing animals who are making the land healthier and fire-safe, neighbors bring you avocados and bread and wave their hands in celebration of your trailering ways. Now I get paid to live exactly how I want to: in service to the earth, resilient communities, and art.
“Earth Hymns,” the handpan album I composed during my time in Bramble Mountain, is scheduled for recording later this month. “Willing to Work Forward: a selection of poetry and prose,” is published and available on Amazon. Reaching beyond comprehension, I found forgiveness and recovered my friendship with Keith. My kids are stable, happy, and loved. The journey keeps unfolding. It’s hard to account for all of the grit, and all of the glory. Sanctuary still feels like a steep climb sometimes.
So what’s the current take-away?
Life throws curve balls so hard it knocks the bat out of your hands.
When this happens, use it as an opportunity to pick up a bigger bat.