so then, what’s left?

by tobias crabtree



i woke up from a night of too many dreams. they were all over the map. i just made coffee and the low hanging clouds match the feeling i’m wearing on my face. in one of my dreams, i somehow erased the little trashcan in the icon bar at the bottom of my computer. suddenly i couldn’t erase anything and my computer started filling up and up. since i’m kinda like tarzan with a computer (and actually, tarzan would have done well with a computer, he taught himself to read from his dad’s journals all the while he was being raised by apes. tarzan was really pretty smart, not that i’d know except for having read all 24 books several times — so, actually, i’m not even like tarzan with my computer, i’m worse) i rarely fix anything without calling up my buddy brian or, like i like to do, pretend nothing is happening and see how long i can put up with it. oh yeah, the dream. i almost forgot. so the dream ended with me trying to type in some weird codes that i was being quoted over the phone but the phone wasn’t staying connected and for some reason the lights were getting dimmer. i’m bad enough with technology, seems it’s even worse in dreamlandia.

but the coffee’s great and my pens are just sitting here looking at me, hoping i’ll pick ’em up and start drawing. they think i’ve quit ’em. there’s tape and paper and glue and cutting knives and straight-edges, all displaying their wares and adding to the possibilities of creating something. all it takes is a body and a mind to drive it; i think i got that.

first this little bit of writing. just to warm up the mind i am supposed to be using. i said in the title, “what’s left?” i’m not talking about the right and the left of things here. that might lead into some kind of political conversation that would inevitably leave me disgusted and might make me not feel like creating anything at all. besides, the far left and the far right are just terms we use to distinguish the people with opposing opinions, and those people on both ends are people. i am sure that if circumstances demanded, both ends would be noble and useful human beings. my grandpa used to use a saying, “he’s a good person to ride the river with….” that was his way of expressing that, if a person would pull their own weight, they were worth being around. i don’t care if you’re in the grand old party or you’re throwing a party, if you are open-minded, you’re fine in my book. but i’m not talking about that kind of “left” when i say, “what’s left?”  i’m talking about what remains.

yesterday i sat and watched the black kitty dismantle a little nuthatch. cats are so matter-of-fact with their kill. they are made to do this kind of thing. it was tough for me to watch, i love the nuthatches, they hang upside down on the dead sunflowers and peck away right outside the door to my shanty. they’re barely bigger than a hummingbird really, and they have little black masks. i couldn’t help but think about mortality. we all are on the road to dying, like it or not. i choose to like it. while the kitty finished off the last of that beautiful songbird i thought back to a party in colorado. it was some dress-up kinda thing. i was on the back porch and it was cold out. they had those gas heaters outside and people were drinking wine. the backyard dropped off into the piney woods. as i stood there and looked out into the dropping temps, a great horned owl came flying low up the draw. it had a white and gray kitten in it’s talons, still struggling. it flew past the party and several people gasped as the big raptor flew by, as silent as a church on tuesday. “i just can’t believe that,” i heard someone say. but i believed. so, as kitty eats the bird, somewhere in the world, a bird eats the kitty. it’s very circular, you know? maybe more of an ecliptic; like a long looping trip.

let’s talk about this, do you mind walking while we chat? let’s take this back trail. we drop off into this draw right here, down through the madrones and the baby ponderosas. watch the poison oak, it’ll reach out and touch ya. this is a deer trail, you’ll see what i mean in a bit.

what remains? well indeed, what does? judging by where we came from, we have a journey ahead of us. we have this backlog of perceptions and values that are incredibly varied. they came from all over the planet. after all, this country was built on a bunch of folks getting out and starting new. we behaved like humans. we misbehaved like humans. and now look at us, trying to figure out this mess. we love showing other countries how progressive we are, how we lead the way, but if you dig in just a little, you can see insecurities and a look of bewilderment. 

i love this part of the trail, it almost vanishes in this stand of madrones. it took me a while to work it out, but the trail’s here. these mossy rocks are slick. you can see where the deer have eaten away most of the poison oak, lucky for me (us). my friend sarah, doesn’t get poison oak, i’ve seen here rub a leaf on her arm and nothing happened. i can think about it wrong and get it where the sun don’t shine. here we drop down in this gully, over the fallen fir tree and up onto that bench were the manzanitas are all stubby. seems like the sun is always shining on that little manzanita hedge.

i’m not here to make fun of america, i love her. i love this land and the heart that beats beneath it. i love it that crazy horse and jed smith and john fire lamedeer and quana parker came out of this land. i love that i came out of it. we’ve been on a journey, one that is far from over. we have allowed ourselves the privilege of comfort and power and excess. we’ve gone to the outer edge of what should be allowed by any creature. it’s time to head back. it’s time to remember where home is, before we lose our way. and i’m talking to all of us; the young, tough, street-hardened man, the softest, richest ceo, the mama, the farmer, the soldier, the druggie, the prisoner, the lost. we gotta start to find our way back to where we came from. there’s time.

this part of the woods is cool, it gives way to the oaks for a bit. almost feels like a different part of the country. right up here, it changes back to the madrones again. it’s where i always see the turkeys, sometimes the big bucks are laying down, chewing their cud. the trail is made by four-leggeds so you gotta duck under the tree bows in a few places, this is where you’ll get ticks in the summer. they just hang their on the ends of the leaves with their little legs spread, waiting for you to find them. ain’t them ticks just so sweet, all they want to do is meet us. now the fallen log and the bigger fallen log. ok, that’s the farthest part of the loop. we gotta start back. it’s uphill, but beautiful. when we get back, i’ll make more coffee and i think there’s toast.