MARCH 26, 2017


So anyway. The Spring Equinox sprung this past Monday, but few remarked upon it as the Island huddled under another dockwalloper. Everyone had been glad for the rain when it came, indicating some relief from the long drought, but as each week brought yet another onslaught of pounding rain and leaden skies, NorCal folks began looking up with longing for a little bit of blue sky.

Mr. Howitzer held a party at his mansion on Grand Street which had the theme of watching what everyone there imagined would be the inevitable repeal of the Healthcare Affordability Act, a measure that really affected none of the attendees directly, but which stood as a symbol of all that was wrought by the detested man who had insisted on becoming both President and a non-anglo-Saxon Protestant. To everyone in Mr. Howitzer's entourage, the former President was something that needed to be airbrushed from Memory's nagging scrapbook that was supposed to feature white tennis shorts and shoes, pristine pools, and charming people of their own sort working the Policies.

"Sit in front of the bus, join at the counter at Joe's Diner, own property if they must, but become President? That is going too far," Mrs. Cribbage announced.

With the spirit of killing every seed before it grows, Mr. Howitzer held this gala over a subject about which not a single one of the attendees had the slightest real idea. In fact, the only person present there who understood the HPA was Dodd, for he and the Missus were paid so badly that they needed to rely on the Exchanges for coverage.

But Dodd did not count for much in this gathering and there was tremendous disappointment when their champion failed to overwhelm the law of the land by force and bluster. As a consequence the assembled gentry got very drunk on champagne and scotch.

"The world is turned upside down!" sobbed Mr. Blather. "In my daddy's time, force and bluster always carried the day!"

"Now, now," said Dodd. Have another Gin Rickey."

"God! Dodd. When you people take over you shall shoot us all down; I see it clearly."

"Of course not, Mr. Blather," said Dodd. Who, counting on the man being drunk and insensible, said, "We are the people who love one another."

"Ah, that is kind," said Mr. Blather.

"Besides, we will need your Swiss bank account keycode."


At the Old Same Place Bar, more plebeian sorts mourned the setback as the scene with a triumphant Nancy Pelosi played out on the big screen above the bar. "They are going to take away all our guns!" Eugene exclaimed, even though the entire episode concerned Healthcare and not the 2nd Amendment. Still, Eugene was one of those who tended to link disparate items in his mind in a connective tissue more pervasive and pernicious than the creatures in a Ripley Scott movie.

"We sha'nt do that," Padraic said. "Nothing of the sort."

"O so you say."

"We will need all of your guns to round all of you up and take you to the Stadium," Padraic puckishly added. "You know, when the SHTF."

That is when Eugene got terribly drunk, forgetting that trout season opened in just a few weeks.

Trout fishing is one of the things for which anglers live all year. We do not have ice fishing here, and the massive runs of steelhead and salmon are events of the past, and for salt water, unless you sit out there among the sand fleas and the coconut oil, that sort of catch requires massive equipment and some resources.

You can get sea bass, or at least something like it, almost anywhere nondescript. But the California trout is a marvelous and somewhat magical creature inhabiting the most magical of places, requiring stealth, guile and purification of spirit to acquire.

Down at the base of the bridge, Wootie Kanootie's moose herd stirred fitfully under the moon as great seasonal changes creaked heavily on their immense revolve.

Pimenta Strife paced in her moonlit bedroom, barefoot and wearing nothing but a slip. Soon time for hunting.

All these things marked the changes happening already in a million places, along the shoreline, bordering the creeks of MarinLand, beneath the softening snows of upstate Minnesota near Bear Lake where a tuft of green growth started to emerge beneath the armpit of the statue of the Unknown Norwegian. All along the windy course of the Big Muddy, starting at the rivulet that drained out of Lake Itasca and then down between Minneapolis and St. Paul and further on down to the islanded reaches bordering Arkansas and Tennessee where dark forms began to move beneath the freeze, things were happening.

Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world

Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes towards a gaze at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world warming up under rains that will welcome the Spring and life's renewal, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see, longer by degrees in his daily journey, a sort of side-show to beat all side shows.

The hours advance and second by second the light returns to the world. In the half-light of the Underworld Persephone looks up from her shattered pomegranate of longing and waits for her time to return to her mother while above the world endures a cold season of frost upon the land.

Mercy Bliss stepped barefoot out of her apartment onto the wood deck in Mill Valley and spread her arms wide to embrace the coming season. It was cold yet, and her thin yoga pants offered little warmth, but she did not care.

"Mercy! Put your shirt on!" shouted her neighbor, Mrs. Tude. "The children!"

Mercy did not care, but she pirouetted bare-breasted upon her deck and danced back into the house.

the road all musicians and gypsies know

On the Island, Suan, Rolf, Marlene and Andre took a couples walk to the start of the Snoffish Valley Road, a road that was mysteriously mutable, possessing shifting boundaries, possessing eternal qualities of all those summer roads along which summer teenagers once raced their sleek machines in contests that had genetic code tracing back to the chariot races of ancient Rome and older still. It was a road that vanished into the drizzly fog like a Rod Serling story about a zone where nobody knew where they would end up. It was a road that could eat its own tail like a snake. It was the locus of the Devil's crossroads junction. It was the road all musicians and gypsies know. It was the road of all desire and of disappointment and it was the interminable road that never had no end. It was the road of salesmen and tired travelers and los migras and refugees and all those tired of traveling but still needing further to fly. It could be an escape and it could be a trap of ambush lit up by the hellfire of drones. It could be all of those things and it was a portal to another life with no going back.

"This is the way," Rolf said.

To either side there were stone effigies, the features of which had eroded over time until it was impossible to tell what kind of figure they had once represented. Pahrump called them "the Puekle Men," and he said they had been put there by the Old Ones who had lived in the Bay Area before the Ohlone.

The four of them stood there, looking into the dark beyond the reach of their flashlights. "We had better be sure," Andre said.

"Life has no assurances," Suan said. "It has only doors and pathways."

"It is one way to go," Marlene said. "At least you have been to the other side." She meant by that, Marin.

"That is true for sure," Rolph said. "I have been to the Other Side." Der Ostli had something else in mind.

the stripper , , , sang quietly Trouble in Mind

The four of them turned back to return to the warmth of the Household, the little cottage where fifteen souls had found refuge for the past twenty years. A refuge, which like all refuges, had a limit on its duration. Little Adam had fallen asleep on the couch where Suan slept and the stripper for the Crazy Horse cradled the boy in her arms and sang quietly Trouble in Mind. A kind of peace pervaded the Island with its quaint houses, including the one that housed the Sanchez family with their new baby, who slept the sleep of baby dreams in the blue bassinet. That night there were no arguments in the Household and no sirens tore the night air. The Island was peaceful and quiet and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.