by tobias crabtree
a hollow, by definition, is a depression. it’s a little space that is empty. the palm of your hand is a hollow. we all have hollows. i know several sweet hollows in the woods and in the deserts. i can close my eyes and go to specific ones. when one spends their life hunting a good spot for bedding down, one learns what a hollow is. it serves as a place to drop gear and make a bed. it is a hide-out. i love hide-outs. and so do you, you who are reading this, you love hide-outs too. it’s in our older nature to know of a place where we can breathe for a second without the masses peeking in. a hollow is, in a very basic way, the beginnings of a home.
i own very little. before you misconstrue this as a pity party, i own little by choice. i used to believe that if you couldn’t carry it, it was too much. i guess i was more militant in my views about what “simple” means. i loosened my grip on trying to define simplicity. my vagabond ways are a good source of entertainment among my people. little bundles in spare bedrooms and sheds and garages. bags with “tobias” written on them. weird collections of kits and gear. boxes of books.
for a long time i always pictured myself with a little spot where i would bring all my stuff together and place it. some folks refer to this kind of place as a home. yeah, that’s it, a home. i planned on doing this kinda thing when i no longer felt a migrate’s pull. i also got a lonely feeling when i thought about making a place just for me to sit and wait it out. there’s a term in spanish “patas de perro”, yep, i got that; a reference to the feet of a wandering mutt. once i designed a huge bookshelf that would be the center of a cabin i would build. a “one-roomer” with a loft. and the burly bookshelf would be in the center and all four of it’s sides would be used to hold all my books and writings and jars of rocks and skulls of animals and bits of colored glass from the seashore. the bookshelf would be the ladder to the loft where i would keep more of the things that prove to me that i am here. rocks and sticks and bones and stuff like that. and books. and pencils and paper just in case, while i rested, i couldn’t wait to write something or make lines that imitate the things tangible in nature.
i went so far as to go to hunter’s blacksmith shop, orion forge (one of my favorite places in the world not just because it’s a forge but because it’s hunter’s forge…have you ever known someone who is the soul of any place they occupy? yeah, well, that’s hunter. when he is in a space – any space – i like being there), to make the hardware for this aforementioned bookshelf. hunter helped me lay it out and smash out the steel so that it would hold the wood that existed in my mind. so, i got the parts to a wonderful, herculean (“herky”) bookshelf in some kit in brian foster’s backyard. thanks hunter. thanks foster.
wait, where was i goin’ with all this? that’s the great thing about writing (notice i didn’t say good writing), i guess i don’t need to be heading anywhere. but really, i was heading somewhere…oh yeah, i was talking about home. in some ways, my home is wherever i run into my tribe. i built a treehouse once in brian and summer’s backyard. i lived in it for a few seasons. slept through those wild santa anna windstorms, 30 feet off the dirt, a billion feet between the stars. i even put a harness on my ma and she climbed up with my help and spent a sunny afternoon watching the goats and chickens below, watching the clouds above move along, herds of their own kind. people came and visited me in the tree. foster came out and climbed up and looked at me from under his rough and tumble brow, through his squinty, shiny baby blues, and he smiled and we didn’t say nothin’ at all because we don’t need to anymore.
once i built a little cabin in the woods behind luke’s house in new zealand. he and i dug out a spot beyond the vineyard, down the hill a bit. over there by the creek. we dug in deep with picks and shovels and we laid “deadmen” back in the hill to keep the earth from washing the cabin into the creek. we drug old fallen trees up from the gully and used ’em for rails and braces. we got old discarded wood at the lumber yard and bought it for small prices. it only took a week or so. that was 10 years ago and it’s still standing in that little hollow below heron’s flight vineyard. ferns and flora has grown in around it and luke still goes back now and then to give it a little love and care, he sends me reports. mostly, i think it sits alone while the wekas and the pukekos walk on their stilty legs above the creek that holds sea-run eels with heads as big as dogs.
there are caves and hollows and trees all around the world. i have spent time in many, each one has been my home for a spin. some remain, some have faded, the treehouse in brian’s yard fell from the sky along with half the tree during a wind event. my tribe is scattered but strong and their tolerance for the one with ‘patas de perro’ is amazing. each, in different ways, has kept me from the leash.
and even that is questionable. i’m a slave to plenty of things. i guess you might say i’m a bit out of bounds with how i live. i love making my way and carrying little. i am wonderfully linked to my people. the one’s who have sparkling eyes when they laugh about my comings and goings. i don’t know how long i’ll go. i’m not tired yet. and when i finally run outa steam, maybe i’ll lie down in one of them hollows, fill it with my bones.
and what is our chest if not the house for our heart?
and what is our heart if not the home for our soul?
and our souls are flying about like the sparrows, singing, and tilting tiny heads.