Sunday, September 12, 2010
By Gina Morrison
When we arrive, the first thing I see are the darkly splendid redwoods, and the ghostly grey light they create as the sun filters into the space around the bark. Xandra was right, there is indeed a giant fairy ring growing, the redwood sprouts form a circle that must be 20 or 30 feet in diameter. In the center of the ring stands an odd little building, eight-sided, with lots of long glass windows and of all things, a roof that has grass and vines growing.
"However did she built it?" I whisper, and Xandra just chuckles. We get out of the car, and it is only when we are standing outside, that I see through the redwood forest to the "other side" -- the starkly bright golden hillside, dotted with live oaks. And on the top, one that spreads in all --
I gasp. My eyes start to water, and I close them and open them again, half hoping the hillside won't be there, because
because I've seen this hillside, because I've been here so many times before, because I've laid beneath that spreading oak more times than I can count, I've climbed it with my dear Teresa, with a blanket with a canteen of fresh lemonade she made me. I've sat beneath the prickered leaves, I've written and written about my cousin Antonie filling my diary just the way Teresa instructed me...
Xandra and the woman hug briefly, and then Xandra turns and motions for me to follow. I stop just before the ring, wondering if somehow I need permission. I wish I had a picture of what I see next. At the edge of the redwood forest, there are four deer standing. Four deer! One of them is smaller than the others; one of them has an architecture of antlers so big you could hang the laundry on it.
The deer are quietly watching us. Then they turn and leave.
But then I see something I never thought I'd see up close: a coyote. We have them back home; David and I have lain awake at night listening to them howl. But here is a coyote only about 2o yards away.
He is greyish yellow, slightly bedraggled. He slinks along the edge of the redwoods, and I am thinking he must be following the deer.
And then the coyote too is gone. As if on cue, I hear something right overhead. An owl. I look up and see the curved brown head. White speckles. And one yellow eye.
"Are you coming?" Xandra calls to me.
"Do you see the owl?" I point to the branch, but when I look back, there is nothing.
Now I am realizing, this is the kind of place where all kinds of weird things are happening.
Gingerly, I step into the ring, and walk across the spongy forest.
"Gina, this is Lenora," Xandra says, and I shake hands with the woman. She is wearing jeans and a white blouse embroidered in colorful flowers. Her arms are exposed, and they are strong and very muscular.
"I think the best way to explain what she does is to have her show you." Xandra smiles. "I have to go, but I'll be back in a few hours and we can take a walk."
"OK," I say. Lenora turns and I follow her, my heart beating so hard I feel it in my hands. What awaits me I don't know if I want to know.