As o=erings, I have two of Muir’s favorite foods: bread and an apple. I hike
through the meadow on the Ice Age Trail
along the boundary of a glacier that was
here fifteen thousand years ago. Two oaks
draw me in, their autumn leaves glowing
in the sun as if buttered. I lean against
their bark and o=er chunks of spelt bread
and apple to the land.
After he moved to California, Muir
tried — unsuccessfully — to buy this place
he loved as a boy. He helped create vast
national parks, but was unable to pre-
serve this patch of land in his lifetime.
It wasn’t until 1957 that it became John
Muir Memorial Park, a National Historic
Landmark and a place to be reminded of
Muir’s words: “Everybody needs beauty as
well as bread, places to play in and pray
in, where nature may heal and cheer and
give strength to body and soul alike.”
Three cranes glide by, stretching their
wings for the fall migration to come. I
head home, munching the tart remains
of the apple I shared with the trees.
San Diego, California
WHERE ARE YOU comingfrom? If you are coming from the
east, as I did, cross the Divide, cross the
desert, the Salton Sea, the Imperial Valley. After Coyote Mountains Wilderness,
follow the river, even if there is no water.
Follow the Indian trail through Mission
Gorge. Pass El Capitan, where the Kumey-aay lived until the dam washed them
away. Pass Viejas Casino, where they live
now. Follow their trail, now Interstate 8,
past the Mission, into Mission Valley — if
you get to Fashion Valley Mall or Sea
World, you’ve gone too far.
If you are coming from the south,
bring ID, a thick skin, and a strong back.
Bring hope. Leave everything else behind. If they stop you at the border, look
I KNO W WHERE the bears walk, drink, sleep, and give birth in the
mountains where I live. Yet rarely have
I seen one in all the years I’ve been
here. But one night, soon after my
cousin’s wife, Donna, died from breast
cancer, I did.
Driving at dusk on Highway 33 into
the small town of Ojai, I felt a pres-
ence running beside me; my car’s
headlights illuminated a large shadow
an arm’s length from my door. Just as I
registered her presence — bear! — she
slammed into the side of my car. I
screamed with the impact and braced
my hands on the steering wheel to stay
on the road. I braked, and glanced into
the rearview mirror expecting to see
a mound of fur in the middle of the
road — but only a column of dust rose
from the dry Ventura River bed.
straight ahead. Look white. Tell them this
is your home.
If you are coming from the west, don’t
forget your life vest.
If you are coming from the north,
If you are coming from the future,
bring wisdom and forgiveness.
If you are coming from the past, take
your time, and at the second decade, turn
left. Bring seeds to share and to save.
Bring least Bell’s vireo and dire wolves.