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The Three Rolling Stones journey at the Lassen Volcano, part two



Dear Danarel,


Mentally, this post is a sequel. I began it months ago but being this contraption, I mean the computer – a material embodiment of the famous pre-Columbian  philosophic, religious, neurotic  and artistic concept (all-in-one) known under the disputable term of vagina dentata * things tend to disappear. Consequently, my text faded into the immense universe of dead words and poor syntax. When  I began to toil on it again, I didn’t remember anything else from the departed manuscript  except  the main idea, which I have to reckon was no more  than a fleeting impression.   Sometimes, I am thinking that life itself it is a sequel of something that never happened.  You know that kind of production where the performer, let’s say the Stallion Rambo, is falling apart on stage like a cracked rock meant to find  an end not exactly in parts and particles, but in a homogenous and poetical dust monticule waiting for a gale. Ashes! Forget Godot, he will never come. However, you can be sure, that  a fine and reliable gust, sometimes even strong and sharp, will howl and blow us back into the apparently permanent domain of matter. There we will reach the total, evident and particularly inept immortality. My tale, trip report, if you are especially  kind, has something to do with this disintegration as my whole blog does.

So, the three Rolling Stones, that means the elderly me, the mighty son, and the smart and agile, but still bird-like grandson (who may after some three more Taekwondo years shift into a strong talons’ bearer), were coming back from a monumental adventure I previously told in the post “A true lie?”. To reach the caldera of the Lassen Volcano,  the target of the initiatory trip, we had to go and to return, of course, on the same trail, since we didn’t have legs for new  routes.  Part of the path passed a fairly  large, scattered and weird pine forest. I called the journey  initiatory despite  my age. If  any type of endeavor doesn’t have the faintest whiff of shamanist quest,  I prefer staying home  playing  chess or dreaming of a kill in the stock market. Vain dreams but fairly nice!

To put it mildly this forest was a kind of spooky area even if  the sun was gloriously  shinning in the blue sky and only few other anthropoids were crawling around.  The humble scribe who is plodding to get to the point, let’s have it, is quite a veteran of mighty American pine cum sequoia forests. Only to think of them, forget to amble through and I may hear the most enticing, both sacral and joyful,  bell carillon. Free.Oppositely,  our advance and retreat on the Cold Boiling Lake  trail leading first to the Bumpass Hell and back to the King’s Creek from where we started early in the morning,  didn’t bring to my auditory cortex anything else than  Chopin’s marche funebre. Chopin_ Marche funèbre (Funeral March)_ op. 35 _ Cory Hall_ pianist-composer 0s – 8m54s (QiWg0sYc4t0) It was probably a literary association  and I will staunchly avoid to ask how  one could hear a whole orchestra when there isn’t any instrument  around. People were locked for life in hospices for much less than that. Some got even sanctified.

So, on both sides of the trail the amount of dead trees was such that I initially thought of a tree slaughter house. I was wrong. A slaughter house ( have you seen one?) has ceiling  rails, moving hooks, narrow  alleys and  bland walls.  The message is order: body near to body, shoulder against shoulder, like an elite company staying on attention. This you may find, if you care for funerary landscapes, in the burned areas of a forest. I remember a mighty army of blackened,  charred trunks, holding their ground for miles at Yellowstone, if I am not mistaken.

Here, at the Lassen park, was still a martial image that put me on the right track, so to say. I didn’t go through a slaughter house: it was the aftermath of a battlefield that I crossed.  The corpses laying at random, in various positions were smitten to death in different ways. Here you have stark naked, bark flayed, sadly standing trunks, there you saw mysteriously broken giants, with half the trunk still firmly anchored in the Mother Earth. Others, were powerless victims resting all    their length on ground meanwhile grotesquely exposing their enormous roots, high above  the soil, like a vegetable and serpentine mesh holding   captive masses of earth and stones. I also saw  a cluster of   three or four  tall trees already dangerously bent in a very sharp angle from ground. Only the entanglement of the tops protected them from immediate fall and inglorious demise. Here and there I remarked  many mighty colossi whose trunk broke in jagged pieces,  kind of ragged sectors, from the terrible shock of tumbling on rocks.  They recalled  poor  warriors whose limbs  were scattered around after vicious shrapnel attack. Some others,  probably less stronger essences were already reduced to picturesque small  variously colored fragments in   yellow,  orange, tan or brown vivid hues. The bits were  ready to melt within  the rich watered soil during the next few  winters. That stage of collapse scarred me less. Life was going back to matter according to modern ecological views. Jews still bury their dead in a simple shroud. What an economy of wood for a planet that suffers of timber depletion and major forest fires!   Not that I abhor fancy burials  when I think of  the amazing quality of some  funerary art such as the magnificent  Capella Medici of Florence.  It is the wholesale, have you ever seen a coffins’ display? – that I dislike.  Everything began   with that stupid Neanderthal who suddenly decided to bury his dead and pave the way for the today’s prolific funerary industry. People run into huge expenses to honor their corpse. In spite of my modesty and the decision for absolute basic ashes  knowing  that I will still  have to cash some  10,000 dollars to get processed makes me sick. But let’s go back to the battlefield.

When I first led my eyes on the site I brainlessly thought that the huge amount of dried  wood would suffice to grill several  thousands of pork spare ribs  and endow them with a genuine wild ecological perfume.  It could make a nice chunk of money for  the Rangers’ Institution and, more so,  delight the general public of nature lovers. Then it occurred to me that the golden rule of the National Parks is   what it falls on ground should remain there. I hope that the rule  does not apply to more or less impotent visitors. A minute later after making these insane associations I started to reflect after the  wondrous chemical factory that each tree was;  the kind of sophisticated chemical warfare they run and the enormous span of life they got, many able to go much beyond a thousand years, which makes them by far the  oldest and most glorious living beings on earth. Then on the edge of tears I began looking for a responsible criminal to  denounce and vilify.

My first choice fell on Rump. It is true that my visit happened before his, let’s call that, election. I didn’t have any proofs but I was sure the  media would buy my lights. As Chinese say, “once a feral felon, always a feral felon”. It is true that the unemployed rate in US fell to  3.7%  while in France is of 8.7%, but who cares about money? I believe the Rump to be a planetary villain and his companion a Tramp, while  Macrot, who married his decent aunt, worries a lot  about global warming and has the most enticing grin. Green. After my first brilliant, notwithstanding lame  guess I thought of hurricanes – but they are not  criminals, they are naturally-created and naturally-minded. Moreover, this place wasn’t one of their playgrounds. They like to sack the Caribbean Islands. Muslim and supremacist terrorists came to mind as  a much more educated and SOUND supposition. However, these bully gangs  do not  care for natural reserves and are much more attracted  by  crowded human spots. It makes sense! Native Americans radicals? Fat chance! First, they are not very nimble and suffer of extra weight. Secondly they are very busy with their casinos, cultural festivals and  collection of welfare checks. Thirdly, they  are enormously proud to see two thirds of Americans pretending to have some drops of Indian blood within their five litters reserve,. That keeps them high and law abiding. No good! Insects? Much better, and a quite natural hypothesis. I saw in Spain some processionary caterpillars weaving a nasty nest around pine tree tops, and bringing them to ground.

” I should speak with a ranger”- was my inner conviction. At the visitor’s center, I run  into a beautiful black she-ranger. I prefer them by far to the he-rangers who are too pedant and much less charming. “Drought” she said and smiled. Great, cheerful smile. “The whole planet is heating up, you know?” …”I do, by any means” – I told her with some extra enthusiasm….So. after getting scared by the boiling and poisonous mud hell mouth of the volcano I had to go TWICE through that tree massacre ground. No wonder that I felt both tired and crestfallen. Things can only go from bad to worse. On the way back a weird idea wormed into my mind like a termite army into a wooden contraption. Not that I felt personally concerned but  if tree depletion will continue and alas people demise too, we will run into a  wood shortage disabling us to handle the increasing  coffins demand! Plastic is not a solution, it poisons earth. Zoroastrian habits cannot help either.  Nowaday,  you cannot trust carrion vultures and other scavengers anymore with this huge amount of organic garbage around.

My son tried to take me out of the black cloud of depressive humor into which I was viciously sinking. He produced and explained a very rare sun eclipse. Unfortunately I was not in the mood to care about the petty solar system. However after the eclipse ritual, photos, discussions, etc with the grandson, who was also cosmically indifferent at that very moment I saw a large advertising panel, American size, offering  impressive information about an olive oil factory. Until I found the words to alert  my son, who has not the easiest character in the world, we were miles away. Well, as an accustomed favorite of the Fortuna Goddess and constantly under the  protection  of my revered guardian angel, another panel peddling similar kind of information came into sight. This time I was silver quick and my son, strangely enough, without offering some precious comments, turned in. It took me today a couple of hours to identify the place where we landed. We were within the Sacramento Valley near a town called Maxwell on the Old Highway 99W.  After slight hesitation we entered a small office & shop of Organic Roots Olive Oil Co. which was  POLIT family owned. They said to be  less than a medium size olive oil producer. It turned out that the orchard had, God Almighty, only 12000000 trees! I was ready to faint under the weight of the number. Thirty years ago I drove a couple of hours towards Delphi through what I believed then to be the biggest world orchard of one million olive trees. The beautiful and polite lady, who was a member of the family, took us over and explained to us some sections of the plant. The shining, silver colored,  cylindrical silos containing I don’t know what, the lab like cleanness of the various units of the press, the tree lanes going forever into horizon, the exquisite kindness of our guide and especially, the elephant size of the two office Rottweilers made an unforgettable impression on me. Then,  I realized that vigilance is not equal to crime as the rotten media of our falling-apart-society is trying to convince the regular Joe. And even more important I felt that the disarray provoked by the dead trees grove, threatening to become a mass grave, was fading away.

Here I came with a glorious idea not exactly a new one but great.! Let’s plant one or more trillion drought-resistant  trees such as  olive, pomegranate, jujube, fig and feijoa. They  will clean our body system and thrill our palate! Concurrently let’s add to that a relevant mass of eastern  redcedar, bur and northern mighty oaks, Kentucky  Coffeetree and northern Catalpa. They will provide generous shade   and  charm our overtly overdeveloped aesthetic sense much more than (let’s keep that off the record) contemporary sculpture. Do you know Mark di Suvero and his anti-tank  giant red iron beams? I predict a brilliant aesthetic cum ecological future to mankind with PEACE ruling supreme over the world if some medium improbable nasty event will not take place very soon. We got all the signs for that or else…  

With kindest regards,

The Wanderer

*The little nitwit, I mean the monklet, is the very seldom right but it happens. The major Chavin de Huantar deity, 1000 BCE, is one of the most intriguing and complex artistic representation mankind ever created. Endless essays and analyses were written about it. I will not dare to go into that. What I can say is  that male, female or something else it has a vagina dentata. Its body is built of modular symbols  of recognizable elements of  powerful animals such as jaguar, eagle, caiman, serpent etc. It carries    probably a ceremonial bar, which is rulership icon, and holds two digging sticks, bespeaking of  life maintenance through agriculture.

7 Responses

  1. Chantal

    Très impressionnant de passer de cette forêt “morte” à cette magnifique oliveraie … Bravo pour le texte et les photos et vive les voyages à 3 générations !

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