My shower today at the homeless shelter reminded me of Walker Creek Ranch. Inspired by re-reading Anne Rice’s amazing, prolific, and utterly descriptive writing of the third legend of the Mayfair witches “Taltos”, made me want to write my mind vomit. And the straight wittiness, conviction, drive;technological knowledge, and gall of its main character “Mona Mayfair”, gave me the confidence to put my fingers to the keyboard tonight.
Now that I am comfy into a paragraph, sat up; by shoving my belongings under my shelter bed pillow, propping myself up to write a novel at my surface pro, I can really get into my reason for actually starting to write. Its Walker creek Ranch that has made me want to spill my heart, it was there I learned how to take a 3 minute shower. I took a 1 week field trip, my first overnight in elementary school, to Walker Creek Ranch. I think I was in fourth grade then. Taking a shower was supposed to be 3 minutes, and I learned how to wash my whole body, dry off and be done by then as to not be in a big locker room for too long exposed to the other girls. Even with bathing suits, it was embarrassing in the 4th grade for me, but that really isn’t even why I am writing about the Ranch, yet it was the reason tonight that made me remember it so well. I am actually writing about it because that is where I fell in love with nature, the world and studying trees, herbs and identifying things around me.
I found my field study book, we had to complete for credit for the field trip not too far back, when I was going through all my things and packing my house, getting evicted, sorting and loving the fact that over my small lifespan of 27 years, and homeless before; that I somehow was able to save that memento. I was proud to look at all my field drawings and writings; learned in the fourth grade, as now I am an herbalist and all those lessons are priceless to me; as it was all in the Field. It was such a beautiful place, we drove around in different parts of the park, learned how to identify paw marks in the dirt; from a racoon to a bobcat, and even found a baby snake one day on the path; when we stopped for lunch on the property.
These memories are more than priceless to me; learning how to identify paw prints, feeling the cold of the manzanita bark and them telling us, its the “refrigerator tree.” Now that I am a herbalist, I cherish that time in the trip when we stuck our hands in boxes not knowing what was inside and feeling all the different feathers of the animals and fur, and knowing it all by sensory imput. I remember loving Walker Creek Ranch for its beauty, its animals, its pure Wildness and Wonder. I loved that place, I dont think I will ever forget our “night hike”, and the field guides giving the whole class mint lifesavers and telling us to chew them up real fast together and make sparks in your mouth. My husband doesn’t even believe that story, but we did it. I remember it all so fondly. I was also blessed to go Safari West both in Elementary school, once with my 6th grade and also as a Freshman in High School for a field trip, on entirely different but equal reasons.
At Safari West they take you on Animal Tours like in a real Safari. In Elementary school we drove in Safari Jeeps, and looked at wild animals; giraffes, hippos, Monkeys, and Lots of exotic tropical birds in a great large glass bird house. It was a another fascinating field trip to study nature and look at all the amazing safari ‘Wilds’. I really enjoyed that trip, I have found all my photos of the trip as well, all animal shots, and only one of the whole class looking at the boa constrictor on site. Burned into my memory forever, this field trip, along with Walker Creek Ranch and again in High School.
As a freshman I went there with ArtQuest, Santa Rosa High Schools Elite Art Program for the more ‘gifted’ art students. I went there to draw the animals. I went their to study form and feathers and weight, and went there for the sole purpose to draw them. I spent a lot of time at the sloth exhibit. I fell in love with the way the three-toed things looked like monkeys but moved like snails, they were easy to draw since they did not move very fast. I remember they let the revered cheetah out for our class to draw and pranced him around in a circle on a leash for about 10 minutes for a quick draw, it was magical. I was so happy to be there again, this time to really revel in the beauty of the place, to study the way the animals looked to be in a Wild Safari once again. These field trips are burned in my memory forever, chronicled in my field journal from 4th grade, embossed into my sketchbook from freshman year; and now the whole ranch is wiped out forever.
I can hardly believe it, I don’t live there anymore, in Sonoma County; but I am more than affected by the Tubbs wildfire. It wiped out Safari West. I read it all in the news, the owner having to choose between saving his house, or saving all the animals on the property. He saved the animals, but the fire took out his house. Its devastating to hear the place that I fell in love with the world with, fell in love with nature with; was obliterated by such an awful event. I am lovingly never going to rid of my field journal, my animal photos, my sketches; as now they are all history; history of what was.
I am more than affected by the loss of my childhood neighborhood; Mark West Elementary Proud, I am. But I am sure that my old school is gone, just as burnt as Safari West. I feel like I am older now, going through a loss like this; of memory, of sensory touch, smell and kinetics; that I will never be able to feel again. So many memory’s in the place that the fire started and destroyed I can’t even explain it all in one blog. I have a hole in my heart for the loss, it’s a weird feeling. Like loosing all your belongings; which I have done before, like the things that bound you to the earth have been unhooked. Freedom of attachment; as the attachment is actually cut off and can never be touched again.
I have only had one death in my immediate family; yet I didn’t feel empty as I do now; void of roots. My school meant so much to me as a child. I spent kindergarten through 6th grade there with the same children. We all went to the same elementary, some went to my junior high and some even went to Santa Rosa High School. I even have a few friends from my same elementary class, on my Facebook now; who would probably remember most of the Walker Creek Ranch field trip, and Safari West as well. I wonder if they feel the same way as I do; I wonder if we’re all feeling void and empty; now that our memory was burned to ashes.
Funny how taking a 3 minute shower, pulled a whole blog outta me; damn Anne Rice. Now to get back to “Taltos.”