Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day with the Phone

Today was beautiful and mostly clear at Tassajara and at Jamesburg, even though we hear that the burn outs are still going on. Most of the day at Jamesburg was spent making contact with evacuated residents to firm up plans for return on Tuesday. Things are happening very fast again as they drop plans and change directions. Thank you to all of them who are responding so readily to the call to return.

A couple more things from the trip to Tassajara yesterday: The front lawn is amazingly green and lush from all the sprinkler watering on the roof of the student eating area and office. There is a new hatching of Canyon Wren babies at the Kaisando. There don't seem to be many blue jays in the valley; they must have flown away. The road is in remarkably good shape - about the same on the Tassajara side of the ridge and better than before the fire on the Jamesburg side because of fire crew grading and watering.


karingj said...

Hi Leslie--Thanks again for keeping us in the picture.
Maybe the bluejays are gone because there are no lunches for them to attack. They probably don't like those firefighter meals... wish I were free to come and help. You must have huge lists of things to do.
Is there ash and smoke in/on everything? eg, do you have to launder all of the beddings and curtains,etc?
Again, thanks. Karin

Jane said...

As Karin said, I so wish I could offer to come in and help now, on this side of things... Worklife prevents.

It's funny, I have zero memory of the clean up in '77, though I remember the preparations and fire so well. I know I was there, but I recall nothing at all, just post fire watching, then practice period and then the floods. Someone, was it you Leslie, mentioned that '78 was a 100-year rain year. (We do seem to get those not infrequently...). It would be great if this coming year is merely normal, wouldn't it? Not drought, but not huge storms either.

Thanks for those details of wren and jay and road. Are trees by the road still burning? My memory is that went on and on for a long time, so if you came in at night, it was amazing. But my time sense may well be distorted.

Thank you as ever,


elizabeth said...

Dear Leslie & all,

Thanks so much for maintaining this blog, keeping us informed through this rather intense chapter of Tassajara’s history, and providing a venue for the conversations that have emerged. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to spend time at Tassajara, though in the past weeks it has, strangely, come to feel very much like a home, which I care about deeply. Perhaps this is because it reminds me of Plum Village ~ Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery … knowing places like this to be such a precious resource. Or maybe it’s the stories I’ve heard from friends who have practiced there. Or perhaps it’s just those “Dharma roots running deep and wide.” At any rate, I wish now that I lived closer (I’m here in Boulder, Colorado) so I could lend a hand with what I imagine to be quite extensive cleanup and restoration work … and hope that at least a portion of your guest season is able to happen, as well as the year’s practice periods.

A number of years ago, while traveling with a friend, I spent a long afternoon hiking amidst the ashes and fossilized lava-flows of Sunset Crater Volcano in Arizona. The following poem ~ born of that experience ~ came to mind recently, as I imagined what it must be like now in the mountains surrounding Tassajara (though sounds like the Tassajara grounds themselves are a green oasis).

Small Pines

I remember you asleep
while I hiked straight to the center
of the old volcano:

dormant now, a vast
and ashen incline
of gray and black

and just a scattering
of small pines somehow able
to root and flourish

to draw forth a richness
from the still remains
of violence and destruction

and the silence
took me by surprise
and I cried

for no apparent reason other
than because the sky too
was opening ~ a gentle

soft rain absorbed
with gratitude
and I imagined

some distant future when
this harsh terrain would flourish
again as a meadow rich in green

and wildflowers blossoming …

~ * ~

with a deep bow, and continuing wishes for the safe homecoming of all of the Tassajara residents-in-diaspora
(including, of course, happy soaking for one & all),


Tim said...

Hi everyone,
As you consider your plans for driving into Tassajara, I would like to note that Tassajara has updated its rideshare board from last year. With this, we can hopefully reduce the traffic in and out of Tassajara. There are ways to offer rides and requesting rides. Please check it out!

Joan said...

Thank you Leslie for offering the images of green lawn, bird life, and road condition.These details are like a quiet coda to the intense drama of the fire--a much needed slowing down.

It is sobering to think of everyone returning to such an altered landscape. In 1977 when we went back in as the fires still burned in the canyons, Tassajara was hardly changed except for the areas of backburning above the hill cabins. As Jane said, I don't remember any cleanup of significance. Everything in my cabin was just as I'd left it, not even covered with ash.

I hope it is in some small way comforting to those returning to know how many of us are thinking of them and wishing them well.

Anonymous said...

This sounds very, very good.

Let's echo what Jane said about the rains in the coming winter. I'm wondering if such a big fire sets up the weather conditions for a big rain. Let's hope the rain that comes this winter is exactly what's needed - not more, not less while also keeping in mind that what will be will be.

Blessings to all.

felicia said...

Fear not. The jays are on vacation at my house in Kincannon Canyon where they are dining on a smorgasboard of cat food, dog food, chicken feed, hay from my horses, and the occasional table scraps. Oatmeal and rice are big hits. I read your post this am and counted at least 25 jays. I'm not so sure the resident five here (mom, dad, 3 babies raised outside my kitchen)are thrilled to be hosting the family reunion. Annie Dog is not terribly thrilled at sharing either. :)

Keith said...

I've really been enjoying your blog. It's been a great way to keep up with what's happening in Tassajara during the fire. I'm not surprised that "Blue Jays" are hard to find there, though, considering they live mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. I would think Stellar's Jays and maybe Scrub Jays would be more likely in your location.

A resident said...


You are right of course, it is the Stellar's jay we are talking about. Scrub jays don't get much leeway from them at Tassajara, but are quite evident in the surrounding mountains usually,

A Resident