Sunday, October 30, 2011

Though I felt required to attend, I’d been avoiding the Occupy movement in Santa Rosa.  I couldn’t agree more with the concept and the near miraculous fact of its nationwide existence, but I didn’t feel up to a protest.  I’ve been angry, I’ve marched, I’ve carried signs, and even shut down a freeway.  The emotional impact of being in that mass of chanting, angry people is increasingly overwhelming not to mention that it’s difficult to point to any direct effect of all the drama.  Now it’s the busiest time of the year for me, kilns to fill, pots to throw and paint… But the fact that people are finally standing up to point out the gross disparity in wealth distribution and lack or proportional representation needs support.  I had to be counted.
     I also had to do something.  I couldn’t just meander with a sign.  I cut two National Geographics into 6x6” squares to fold 99 cranes to represent the 99% who are losing jobs, homes, health coverage, and social programs (plus 1 greedy little one with 34.6% of the nation’s wealth). While I attached handles and trimmed butter bells, Joey gathered together a portable sawhorse table, created signs, a T for the cranes and a cooler full of sandwiches.  His vision was to provide the PB&J brigade: Peace, Brotherhood & Justice through free sandwiches.
     We arrived while the marchers were still looping the town so we claimed the shade of a tree to set up.  We were soon joined by Mia, who began folding cranes with me.  We had 12 strung by the time the parade arrived, fronted by a man dressed like the Monopoly millionaire and a sign declaring, “This is class war.  We own you.  Pay up”.  “Some of us are just worth more than others”, he chuckled.  Others signs included, “Democracy not Corporatocracy”, "What's more important, Paper or People? [drawing of dollar bill next to "paper"]", "1% fat, 99% milked".  I do love the signs.  Much more than the drum circle. 
     Folding the cranes provided a calm focus and there was always at least one other person at the table with me.  Photographers snapped away.  Joey gave away 70 sandwiches to big smiles and gratitude.  By the time we packed up, we had 81 cranes.  I even stumbled through an interview with KSRO.   The Occupation wasn’t a scream-fest, instead the feeling was relieved and playful, and being so close to Halloween, there were costumes.  A marked awareness of the recent violence at Occupy Oakland may have contributed to the city government officially allowing tent camping on the lawn.
    We’ll be back next week.  As the sign said, “The Beginning is Near.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

When the rain begins, our “backyard” forest blooms.  Throughout the winter we see Oyster Mushrooms, Chanterelles, Hedgehogs, Lion’s Mane, Boars Head, Matsutake, Porcini and a million more we don’t know the names to.  We don our camel packs, knives and bags and go out hunting.  There’s a maniacal glee in the expressions of all the hunters in our fungi bible, All the Rain Promises and More, and it bursts from even the most sedate hiker we bring along with us.  Today we were already fat on the first load of oysters I found on a tree the day before and turned into delicious gratin ( which we will probably be having for Thanksgiving.  The rest I sautéed in butter and froze.
     The hike is a bit rugged, the paths are abandoned, overgrown fire trails from the logging days.  I have patches of poison oak on me already from the eager green leaves that embody “ubiquitous”.  But the joy on sighting that angelic glimmer of white, a glowing cathedral in a misty forest, overpowers the itching (and fear of it).  The oyster mushrooms form magnificent bouquets along dead and fallen trees.  I murmur, “Beautiful”, “Amazing”, as I cut them down and hand them to Joey for cleaning.  There’s a similar sense of awe and living community to that of the bees.  We clean the log so that the next bloom will have room to thrive and won’t suffer from rotting mushrooms.  Over the years, we have feasted off particular logs repeatedly, up to three times a season from the same one.
     The first log we found this morning just recently fell to the ground.  But the second one was still wedged against the dead stump and another tree 50 feet up in the air.  I gingerly harvested from this beauty, careful not to stand below it.  Then Joey mounted it to capture the luscious ones just out of reach. 

       In all, we captured 10 lbs of perfect oyster mushrooms.  There were many that were already past their prime and we spread these about so that their spores could do their magic.  Home to breakfast and a hope that we can share our abundance with a local restaurant in exchange for a meal.  Bring on the rain!