First memories of "land access to which is denied no one" are as clear and
bright as the Morning Star in the morning at Morningstar. Memories radiate from eight
points 8 sideways an infinity symbol. It was only later that recollections
turned hazy with the smoke of countless campfires and dreams and conversations and events.
Sandi Stein said it most lyrically in the December MOST.
"My sense of time during those years folds telescopically in and out on itself (I
suspect a healthy amount of psychedelics helped achieve this effect), and my memories
resemble beads and feathers strung haphazardly together, held in place by relationships
and shared interactions with people more than by any sense of sequence or the orderly
passage of time. My powers of recall are disheveled, scattered about in disarray, with
softened edges and very misty like the redwood grove in early morning winter."
My first morning at Morningstar was a cold March Hare of a morning after Larry and
Siddhartha and I spent the night in our sleeping bags in the upper house. We came loosely
under the auspices of the Diggers in San Francisco. The only Digger I remember from that
time was Calvino, who looked like an Italian organ grinder and must have been the original
Dirty Olde Man. He told me I didn't have to worry about putting anything in the tin can
kitty in the upper house because I was a Digger and Diggers paid their way just by being
Diggers. This, even though he knew that all I'd done to be a Digger was to pick up some
really hip clothes from the Digger free store in San Francisco and go to the Human Be-In
high on Owsley LSD compliments of the Diggers. (Only strings attached to the acid were
that you had to drop it at the Be-In.)
That first March morning (So OK, it might have been April) was cheek chapping windy
gray weather and I nearly froze my ass off to prove a point the point being that
people ought to be able to take their clothes off outdoors if they damn well felt like it.
A bead: Once when Larry and I walked into the upper house at night, Al
Koewing, (a vet
of both MS's), remarked "Well, here's the hard-core Morningstar contingent
brings you guys to town?" I was immensely flattered to be referred to as
"hard-core Morningstar." Probably part of being "hard core" was the
fact that we were both arrested for our involvement in the community, but maybe another
part was being, as Lou said, "militant nudists." Cindy was even more militant
about it than I was. We were both making fashion statements. But we looked so much alike
that when I got photographed bareassed in Time Magazine, a lot of people thought it was
Cindy because we had the same basic MO these little chicks with long brown hair, blue
eyes, obstinately unclothed at all times but I had bigger tits and Cindy had a cuter
ass, and I always wore a baby on my hip and Cindy wore feathers in her hair. That's how
people told us apart. And that's another thing I was flattered by being mistaken for
Cindy. (Not too many people know that Cindy and I had the same last
name READ not Reed. When I flew home to New York after being arrested, I used
Cindy's student ID to get a cheaper rate already had READ on my luggage just had
to remember to answer to 'Cynthia'.) Lou observed once that familiarity on God's land was
the reverse of familiarity in the 9-5 world. If you knew people really well at
Morningstar, you knew their last names.
Anyway, we stayed at the upper house for one cold spring weekend and decided we wanted
to come back. We had met Lou Gottlieb while sitting around the huge table in the upper
house kitchen. We had heard of and heard the Limeliters. I was awed. They were well known
at about the same time as the Four Freshmen and the Hi-Lo's and the Kingston Trio. Despite
what Calvino had said, I felt that if we moved to Morningstar, we should at least
contribute something. I'd been supporting us by art modeling for photographers and artists
and by dancing nude on North Beach in San Francisco. (On the marquee at Gigi's, I was
billed as "The Naked Eve" and "Caljone Breaker" by turns.) Was also
doing short-take appearances in topless nightclubs. That week that we returned to San
Francisco to get our stuff, I danced one last time at some obscure bar but the band
was far out. We were all pretty stoned and they played music from around the
world Egyptian flute and drums, Scottish bagpipes, bluegrass, Reggae and I
danced like I'd never danced before. I had a mission. I was going to live at Morningstar
and all my earnings from this gig would go into the tin kitty at the upper house. And they
did. And that was the last cash I ever contributed to Morningstar. After that things got
so fast and loose that there wasn't any tin kitty. There was only Morningstar.
We began staying in the sun room in the lower house. I remember that room because I
spent a lot of time in it. I was being eaten alive by poison oak. With calamine lotion all
over my body I looked like a leper from Ben Hur. The next three weeks or so were a blur of
benedryl and the sun room and trips to Bodega Bay with Phil and Lennie. They were nice
enough to take me out for an airing during my turn at the human condition. And Phil was a
talented healer our resident chiropractor.
Meanwhile, Larry was building a house for us a sleeping platform (at first)
anchored on a huge redwood stump in the meadow about 30 yards from the barn. People called
it the tree house and the meadowboat. Larry constructed canvas panels for it so that both
the sides and the roof could be removed. We put beautiful brass candleholders (found in
the uptown trash in New York City) at either end.
A feather: In the photograph that appeared in Time magazine on July 7, 1967, I am
standing nude (discreet side shot) in front of the meadowboat with Ramσn and Joanie
(fully clothed) and Katy Dog (in all her naked doggie splendor). The picture was taken
before Larry carved the prow of the meadowboat so it looked like an ancient (we thought)
and ornate ship's prow.
The reaction over time to that picture in Time is amazing. My parents couldn't brag
that their daughter was in a national magazine because she was stark raving naked, but
other people who knew me recognized me and one wrote and said "I was wondering where
you guys were." Others thought I was someone they knew (the PIX was so
nebulous sort of an Everywoman shot), and some, of course, thought it was Cindy. I
was even told it appeared in collages across the country and that some people came to MS
because of it, and just a few months ago here in Nashville I got to talking with an
acquaintance about communes in general and Morningstar in particular. "Oh yeah,
Morningstar," this guy said, "I knew a girl named Kathy who ran away to
Morningstar and next thing we knew she showed up naked in Time Magazine. Caused quite a
scandal." "That was ME!" I fumed, "That was MY bare ass
Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame!" When I got arrested for attacking an officer, Lou
said "No, no, they shouldn't arrest her she's got points! She was in Time
Magazine!" End of feather.
In those first weeks at Morningstar, I remember Joanie changing into straight-arrow
clothes at the lower house and going off to her teaching job in the city. I don't remember
what happened to that job, but it seemed to fade away like a soap bubble in the sun, and
in any case, we were all glad to have Joanie at Morningstar full time for a time. She
looked like a cross between little Mary Sunshine and the Empress on the Waite deck of the
Tarot. Joanie says I made her a white dress with red valentines and green leaves
embroidered on it and that she wore it on one magical day. I had forgotten the dress until
she mentioned it but know it must have been an attempted copy of the dress of the Empress.
Ramσn now. The first time I saw Ramσn I thought he was from another planet
time traveler transported from his perch on top of a Mayan temple to his perch near the
chicken coop at Morningstar. Ramσn was is a Sun worshiper. A few of us who were
early risers would see him sitting lotus on his perch at dawn with his face to the sun
OM-ing like crazy. One of my fondest memories is of the mornings in that first summer when
we would all gather on the hill between the upper house and Lou's cabin and go through the
yoga asanas. Later, when Rena came, she stirred up all the metaphors. She picked up the
asanas and ran like a race horse with them, flew with them, swam with them, rippling from
one to the next, so those yoga mornings are imprinted in my mind with Rena's image
(hey it's the one on page 97 of the Scrapbook)! We got so used to going without
clothes that we wore our nudity like garments. Sun-bronzed bodies harmonized beautifully
with earth and sky.
But the local fuzz had a different impression. I remember going to a town citizens'
meeting of some kind in Occidental, I think. The meeting was called to address the PROBLEM
OF MORNINGSTAR. This one guy got up and said, "You have not seen a truly disgusting
sight until you have seen a row of naked men standing on their heads." And he went on
about how "our teen-agers" and children are being exposed to this. Then this
other suit got up and said, "Might I remind you that the place does not come to them.
They come to the place."
The only Morningstar child for a while that Spring was Adam Siddhartha. Time called him
a "straw-thatched 17-month-old boy." He was that. I have no memory images of
Siddhartha in tears during those days. He was always happy always climbing around on
trees and fences (my little Capricorn) and he got mega feedback from everybody. People
talked to him and showed him stuff and tried to make him laugh which wasn't
hard and Bruce Baillie took pictures of him. His first word was "hot."
"Hot," we figured out, meant anything with either kinetic or potential energy.
That included fire and sharp knives and windmills and guitars. When he finally started
saying "Mama," a young curly-headed man named David (not Pratt) used to come
down and sit by the meadowboat and try to get Siddhartha to say "Hot Mama!"
David would coach him, "Say hot hot" and Siddhartha would say
"Hot" and clap his little hands and David would say "Now say 'Mama'"
and Siddhartha would look around for me and ask him "Mama?" "Just say
'Mama'" "Mama," Siddhartha would say. (He was a very cooperative child.)
"Now say "Hot Mama" and Siddhartha would say "Hot hot HOT" and
clap his hands. And so it went.
As the weather got warmer, we started a garden by the chicken coop. That soil was
miraculous old chicken shit. Nothing like it. I planted radishes and Swiss chard and
turnips and mustard greens, then corn and beans and tomatoes and squash. Everything grew
from day to day like those time-exposure nature videos you see on PBS. Later an older dude
who always wore clothes and a straw hat came and took over the garden. That was a relief
to me because it was huge by then. In 1967 you could buy 100 pounds of good brown rice for
$10. Lou often did because nobody else had any money. With the brown rice and cooked
greens and baked squash and green salads we fed a lot of people that summer often
more than 200 at a meal. And Cindy seemed to be in charge of the kitchen.
Cindy was maybe the only real Digger on the set at that time she and Herb
Herb with the hair like Joanie's who always wore overalls and meditated while he walked.
(Once when he was walking in the orchard, I saw a bright aura all around him.) Anyway,
Cindy used to hang around wild-eyed radicals in the city like Emmett Grogan, and she
believed in true communism. Her personal hero was Gandhi and she had a book about him that
she used to carry around with her Bible (which she took to our Bible-reading sessions at
Don and Sandy's). She especially liked the picture of Gandhi's possessions when he died,
which consisted of his eyeglasses and bowl and chopsticks and a see, hear and
speak-no-evil monkey statuette someone dear had given him. So Cindy was a communist and a
Digger and a pacifist, but she sure was hell on wheels in the kitchen. She would dig her
bare heels into that lower-house floor and fire up the oven and have pots on all four
burners going all the time and people would just fall in and take orders from her. But she
finally got fed up with the entropy of the place and one famous day in a magnificent rage
she broke all the unwashed plates that could be broken and just slung all the plastic shit
out the kitchen door.
More beads more feathers: We all had different belief systems or the lack thereof.
I had been brought up by staunch atheists and Larry's parents were into Edgar Cayce and
the A.R.E. in Arizona. Lou was fond of quoting Sri Aurobindo and "land access to
which is denied no one" was founded on the idea of the ashram in
One of Sri Aurobindo's things was that you have to silence your mind so you will be open
to the descending force much superior to the kundalini force which proceeds from the
lower chakkras upwards. In the earliest days, Phil and Lennie and Don and Sandy and Ramσn
and Joanie said that Lou, trying out his latest theory, asked everyone to kindly refrain
from sex for a while to see if the vibration of the land would ascend. Well, that went
over like a brass blimp. But when Ramσn brought out a book called The Adventure of
Consciousness by someone only named Satprem, I went ballistic. Carried that book around
with me like Cindy carried her Ghandi book and her Bible. It said, among other things,
that if you let the descending force clear your mind of babble, you will be filled with
the understanding of God and all touches will come as Joy Ananda. That's where I got my
daughter's name when she was born in Wheeler's Canyon. Joanie had said once that she
thought we should name our children after the highest concept we could come up with. So I
named her Psyche Joy Ananda the joy of the soul in Greek, English and Sanskrit
One day, to clear his mind of babble and make way for the descending force, Lou vowed
silence and hung a sign around his neck that said something like, "This body has been
talking entirely too much. It is time for the divine silence." But before
long you guessed it within barely three hours (if that long) he was glibly
holding forth on a number of topics including the prime importance of silencing the mind.
Larry and I took a brief hiatus that summer and hitchhiked to Mount Shasta. Larry
wanted to locate the White Brotherhood. We pitched our tent and hung out on the mountain
for a week. We never found the White Brotherhood, but there was this old broad who called
herself "Mother Mary" who sort of held court on the mountainside, and we sat at
her lotus feet a couple of times. But one of my most vivid memories is when we actually
climbed the mountain to where the pumice stone was. Larry had Siddhartha in a pack on his
back and I was clinging vertically to the side of the mountain. When I looked down on
either side of me, there was this alpine abyss and I remember thinking, "What am I
doing in this reality?"
Now the beads and feathers come so thick and fast that I can't distinguish the beads
from the feathers.
One fine bright day in early summer, Willie B. and Bea arrived with their little one,
Andre, and two horses. Andre and Siddhartha were just days apart in age and they became
fast friends. Wiillie B. would lead one of the horses around the meadow with two little
boys on it one white and one black talk about visions of utopia!
Beatrice was into theorizing as much as Lou was, and we had some long and lively
discussions about ideas of utopia and child raising, and relationships and how it's not
cool to rip off other people's energy and how it IS cool to contribute to the exponential
increase of community energy stuff like that. I got to know Bea better at Wheeler's
and then at the new Morningstar. But more people started coming that I never got to know
really well, like Jon Jon and Terry and Superman and Kathy and Joe Conti and Chuck, who
was dodging the draft. Chuck had short hair when he first came, but he let it grow and
never cut it again at either Morningstar, and he changed his name to Winkama.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Joanie had brought some embroidery thread and burlap sack material from an occupational
therapy job she had had. Joanie and Diane and Vivian and Doris and I would sit around in
the meadow grass and sew and watch the kids and the horses. Doris would play her guitar
("Keep on truckin' Mama," and "Take your fingers off it, don'tcha dare
touch it, none of this belongs to you. I SAID take your fingers off it...etc.") We
got into embroidering the burlap with yarn (with a darning needle), then doing more subtle
stuff around it with embroidery thread. We made burlap tapestries and clothes that we
didn't wear. I remember Joanie putting knots on the OUTSIDE. "I've decided that knots
are pretty," she said, "and besides, it's easier to keep track of them this
way." What freedom! Inside knots were not mandatory. I was delighted.
Outside people who were friendly to Morningstar (when we were an interesting social
experiment to academic types) brought us whatever they thought we could use, including
lots of old clothes. Joanie started cutting up the heavier prettier cloth brocades,
wools, corduroys into big squares. After she sewed a few together, she decided that
instead of making a quilt, she'd make a warm skirt for winter. So we started making
colorful warm quilt skirts. Joanie's was particularly elegant and she wore it a lot. Later
we wore our quilt skirts to court and were photographed by the media in same. I'll never
know if it was Joanie who single-handedly started a fashion, but it wasn't long before
long quilt skirts became the rage and I notice that they're still an item.
This whole story, I'm beginning to realize, is leaving the realm of beads and feathers
and has become a quilt of relationships and events and ideas in different sizes and
shapes definitely a crazy quilt.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
One day that summer I decided that I needed to be by myself for awhile and left
Siddhartha with Hal and Judy Barton (a couple with a school age girl and younger boy who
were living in the woods in a trailer down towards the parking lot).
I took my pack and sleeping bag and headed far up the creek and camped for three nights
and three days and fasted and read and meditated. On the third day, I met a young
boy the only human I met on this retreat who had stayed at Morningstar for a
while, he said, but it was too crowded and he liked to be alone in the woods. He had an
established camp on the fringes of an ancient apple orchard on somebody's land (somebody
who didn't visit his old apple orchard).
Tom, the silver-flute player and his dark-haired lady, Diane, were living near the barn
and several of us started to spend more time down by the creek. Larry carved an
eye-of-Horus-type eye into a rock down there with a hammer and chisel. If I ever get back
to Morningstar, I want to see if I can find that rock eye.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now the chronology blurs. It was either the rainy season or the sunny season. It was
either a time of plenty or a time of hunger. It was either a time of freedom and love and
fun or a time of persecution and hassles. But there were far too few sunny naked days
before people from town came to stare at us like we were animals in a zoo or fish in
Even though we were the love generation, some people were just naturally monogamous and
remained so. Larry and I weren't. By mutual agreement, we had an open marriage before the
idea was generally bandied about as a bold new experiment. Morningstar people were
refreshingly open about the matter. There were much more judgmental vibes about food on
the set in those days than there were about sex.
At one point, Laird and Vivian and Marty and Bernard and Judy and Alison were living in
the barn. We would gather for a bonfire by the barn at night. That was the year I had a
little corn patch by the Meadowboat. Tom would play his flute and Bernard or Marty would
beat on the conga drums and Larry played his guitar. It was a job keeping that axe from
warping because we were living out in the open with only a platform and canvas between the
guitar and the elements but Larry still has that old Martin.
For a while Marty and Bernard were conducting a sort of monastery in the barn and made
it a hotbed of celibacy. Bernard was into the Tarot and Marty was into Gurdjieff and they
both shaved their heads and wore robes and sandals or else just a rope belt and a headband
(and nothing else). Later, I guess because one of Gurdjieff's teachings was that if you
were a success on the material plane then you would also be a success on the spiritual
plane, Marty put on some street clothes and went to San Francisco and started a
window-washing business on a shoestring.
Sometime around in here Raymond and his wife Florence and four school-age kids showed
up to increase the kid population. They also moved to Wheeler's and then Morningstar, New
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On rainy days when it was hard to get a fire started, we would hang out in the barn or
at the lower house or at Don and Sandy's. Seems the upper house was being taken over by a
faster crowd from the city. Nevada and Crazy Annie and Gypsy and Mystery and Chief and
Jason were all there at various times, but people like Jimmy Small and Al and Laura
Koewing (brother and sister) and John Butler with his deep kind vibes, were there to
temper some of the craziness.
I heard loud noises one night toward fall I think because I put on my poncho
and went up to the well to see what was going on. There were the Gypsy Jokers with their
motorcycles and it looked awfully like they were burning boards, not logs (ohmygod, it was
the picnic table!) I said something in an outraged tone to one of them and he went down on
one knee and said, "Mam, I wud liketa tell yez somethin'. I wud liketa trow yez inda
fire." I backed off and the rest of the jokers laughed like madmen and slapped their
knees. We did get to know some of them better later, and there didn't seem to be any real
homicide in them just a profound barbarism. They got off on playing outlaw
was their thing. They were just in a different movie.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
David and Penny Pratt built a whimsical little treehouse in the orchard. It was
multistoried and looked like a Winny the Pooh house or like something out of Tolkein. It
blended so well with the trees that you didn't realize you were there until you were right
on it. Then there were glints of colored glass and bits of curtain and, yes, beads and
feathers. Penny had made beautiful rag rugs for the floors. David covered Lou's cabin and
both houses with murals and paintings and collages of birds and angels and morningstars
and peyote buttons and faces. David's artistic influence reverberates along the entire
Morningstar continuum. His images must be embedded in our tribal consciousness because
they keep returning. David had a friend named Bryce who looked a lot like him and who did
the most fantastic three-dimensional watercolors I've ever seen.
But there were more musicians than graphic artists around, starting with Lou. It was
such a trip to work in the garden and hear strains of Bach coming from Lou's cabin. Larry
and Doris and Willie B played guitar.
I remember Swami Bhakti-Vedanta coming to do a kirtan in the orchard and we all went to
it and got high on it. I will always remember the Swami's eyes. They were dark and
glittering like the eyes of Mother Teresa and like Little Joe Gomez who was pretty
much the resident guru of the New Mexico Morningstar.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I hadn't been much interested in astrology before Morningstar. It just didn't make any
sense to me that it could make any sense (having been brought up in the scientific
materialist tradition) but we all got in the habit of knowing each other's astrological
signs and to this day I remember Ares Marty and Friar Tuck; Taurus Cindy; Gemini Tom, Bill
Wheeler, Vivian, Rena, Joanie and me; Cancer Psyche and Lorene (Larry's sister); Leo Louis
Kuntz and Bernard; Virgo Larry and Beatrice and Betty Schwimmer (Shoshanna); Libra Don and
Lou and David Pratt and Laura and Jeffrey; Scorpio Ramσn and Nevada; Sagittarius Willie B
and Phil B. and Andre; Capricorn, Siddhartha and Sandy and Wayman and David Hill; Aquarius
Penny and Diane and Flo; and Pisces Doris and Hal Barton.
One Gemini day, Rena and Joanie and I found ourselves in the sun room in the lower
house with a copy of Alice in Wonderland (Alice, the quintessential
Gemini "For this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two
people."). We started to do a dramatic reading of the last chapter of "Through
the Looking Glass" where Alice becomes a queen with the Red Queen and the White
Queen. Being consummate Geminis, we all had "voices" for different characters. I
think I did the Red Queen and Joanie the White Queen and Rena was Alice. When we started
reading, there was nobody in the room with us but as we got more into it and got to
the end where we broke into spontaneous song "Red Queen and White Queen and
Alice and all" people were crowding around the door and applauding. A happening.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Another magical happening was Lou's quilt. A number of us (we of the female persuasion)
were into sewing in one form or another and as I mentioned before, we did have some
friendly neighbors among them a sort of hippie gentleman farmer named Michael Smith
and his wife, Joan and their kids. Joan had a treadle sewing machine which is really fun
to use after you get the hang of it it's got its own rhythm. Anyway, we walked to
their house on the Forrestville Road from Morningstar and Joan sliced us some of her
excellent wheat bread (which we gobbled on the spot; things were a little lean right then
at Morningstar). It was the rainy season I remember because we were all wearing clothes. I
think the "we" were Doris and Penny and Joanie and Cindy and maybe Kathy and me.
Sandy wasn't there that day but she did a square. We embroidered some squares and did
appliquι on some and beaded some. I think that oddly enough it wasn't a crazy
quilt, i.e. the squares were all the same size. Easier and faster to put together. We told
stories and harmonized to songs and tried to make Ramσn's mantra ("Only thou oh
river of delight, etc") into a round, and we had some more bread and some more tea
We worked on the quilt after that first meeting for I don't know days, maybe
weeks separately and together, and finally we took it back to the Smith's house to
sew it together on the machine and put a backing on it. Then we trudged back in our
quilted skirts with the almost-completed quilt. It was all sewn together except for one
square -Sandy's. She stayed up half the night to finish her square by kerosene
lantern. It was a cross with a Morningstar in the center.
The next morning we presented the quilt to Lou with some ceremony. It was really a very
beautiful and colorful quilt and Lou made a suitably big deal out of it. Later, in a
meditative mood, as we were sitting in the sun on his porch space, Lou said, "As the
patriarch of Morningstar, one should be allowed to fuck every woman on the place."
Pause. Lifted finger. Raised eyebrow. "But if you DON'T -they will make you a
As Vivian says, "Vintage Lou."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
People brought so many animals to Morningstar too many. The goats were welcome for
their milk (although it is axiomatic that gardening and goating don't mix). An Irish guy
with a brogue (forgot his name; he had red hair and freckles) taught me to milk goats and
for a while I took over milking Rosie. I could never manage Annabel. Once we came back to
the meadowboat and there was Rosie, quietly lying down goat fashion in our house! She
really thought that place should be hers it was up high and shady and
quiet perfect for a goat Queen like Rose.
But we were definitely overducked.
There were several species of duck at Morningstar, brought by some of our more zealous
friends. Some clown brought a whole flock of ducks to the meadow and barn area. Big
mistake. They imprinted on the meadow or something and we couldn't get them to take up
shop at the pond (the one on the way to the orchard). I patiently led/drove them up there
and they all went quacking happily into the water and swam around for quite a while, but
damned if they didn't all trundle right on back to the barn after their swim. No, no, I
told them ducks LOVE water. WATER! But they were already imprinted, so in addition to
dogshit and horseshit, we had DUCKSHIT all over the meadow and barn area to contend with.
One little duck, a smaller species, went wild and had babies and we'd see her and babies
now and then through the trees.
Finally we were so overducked that I asked one of the guys (can't remember who) if he
was into offing one or two of them. We hadn't had any meat or other protein in a long
time. He was glad to accommodate me, and we were cooking the duck (it was a particularly
ugly one) when Cindy got wind of it and confronted us in the barn. It was a clear case of
duck murder and an affront to the high vegetarian vibes and principles of respect for all
life at Morningstar. I took the rap and told her that I was the dragon lady here. Cindy
was surprised and disappointed in me that I could be a party to such lowlife shit.
"But it's duckshit!" I squeaked, knowing all the time that I didn't have a leg
to stand on. I was guilty of duckacide.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Somewhere around that time the hepatitis epidemic hit. I'm trying to remember
must have been before Laird and Vivian and Marty and Bernard moved into the barn because
Marty was living in a tent in the orchard and I was bringing him jugs of water from the
creek (he was heavy into purity and wouldn't drink anything that came from a man-made
pipe). Quite a few people got it Marty and Sandy and Don and Zen Jack (who started
out sleeping in the closet at the lower house and expanded to a treehouse). People who got
hep became very distant and withdrawn until they got over it and it took a long time
to get over it. As a community, we got more hip to the need for cleanliness around food,
but as more and more people came, it became harder and harder to keep up even minimum
standards, so everybody pretty much had to be responsible for himself/herself.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Which sort of leads into the downside of Morningstar for me. It can be summarized in
one word: hunger. Legal hassles were the other side of the downside, but our court
problems had their spiritual upside at times. Hunger had no upside. I can only speak for
myself here, but I got terribly hungry for protein, especially when I was pregnant for the
second time. In the early days we had the garden and there was always rice or millet or
buckwheat groats and sometimes even tahini and soy powder for soy milk, but in the rainy
season, times were harder. Some weekenders who came out to see us would often bring us
food. I vividly remember a fat and friendly Chicano guy who brought a can of spam to the
meadowboat. I had never been a spam fan, but right then I was so hungry that that spam
looked good. Cindy and Alan said, "You're not going to eat that, are you?" I
waffled around a little but ended up covertly devouring it. I knew I was probably
extremely unevolved and was ashamed to be so unspiritual, but I was ravenous for some
protein, angry that I felt this way, and upset that I seemed to be the only one who was so
hungry. But that's not altogether true, because I remember Marita when she first
came how rosy cheeked and bright eyed she looked, but after a few months she looked
haggard and anemic and her periods had stopped (no, she wasn't pregnant). If you look at
page 27 in the Scrapbook, you'll see a picture of a smiling Adam Siddhartha with a
distended belly. I didn't realize until much later that this is a sign of protein
deficiency. Thankfully Siddhartha doesn't seem to have lost any brain cells because of
this it was nothing like the cases in Africa but I'm convinced that he was in
the first stages of protein starvation. One of the reasons I think so was that when we
flew back to New York to spend a month with my parents when Larry was in jail,
Siddhartha's bellly shrank back down to normal size and he was gobbling eggs and milk and
cheese like crazy.
One of my most shame-faced and miserable memories was of a night around a fire near the
well where somebody had some oatmeal with milk. Milk! And they were passing bowls of it
around. I was pregnant and holding Siddhartha on my lap and sharing the bowl with him, but
I was so hungry that I was gobbling it up faster than he could and he started to cry. That
was a terrible moment. I was robbing my own child. I got very depressed and antisocial
after that which compounded the problem. Larry wasn't hungry because he hung out at
night with people who had food. Different people had money and food at different times and
some people had food all the time, and they usually cooked it at night. But I was too
exhausted to hang out at night with anybody. I went to bed practically at sunset.
We first heard about foodstamps from Ramσn in early fall I think, and later that year
Nancy (the Nancy who lived at the lower house for awhile with her husband and two
school-age kids the Nancy who used to be a welfare worker and was heavy into the
Urantia book) managed to procure foodstamps for the people at Morningstar with kids for
one month (after that we were supposed to prove we had our own kitchen). But we still
shared the food. The most vivid hunger incident was when I was almost six months pregnant.
Joanie and Abe and Siddhartha and I were sitting on Lou's porch (Lou was away somewhere)
and someone brought over a steaming bucket of wheat chickenfeed actually. We had
found that cooked chickenfeed has a lot of good grain in it and is an excellent breakfast
(but with no milk or honey or anything else, it's extremely boring and you have to chew it
for a LONG time to get any nourishment out of it). I took one look at that pot of
chickenfeed and burst into tears. There was just nothing in it that my body wanted.
Everybody was surprised and concerned what's the matter, etc. I was ashamed but
admitted that I was hungry for some protein of some kind anything fish, eggs,
meat, milk, especially milk. Joanie and Abe, who had a car, immediately went to Graton and
got me a half gallon of milk and a dozen eggs. I was so grateful. Later, Joanie asked me
how I was did I feel better? Infinitely. How many of those eggs did you eat she
wondered? "All of them," I mumbled, embarrassed. "Oh, you poor thing!"
Now with the perspective of years, I realize that this was just my experience and may
not have been anybody else's. I especially blamed myself when I saw the picture of
Siddhartha with his distended stomach blamed myself for not hanging out at night by
as many fires as I needed to get enough protein for both of my children the born and
the unborn. But now I only blame my youth and ignorance and the fact that we were such a
new community, just beginning to think tribally and to figure out ways to solve all our
problems of hunger and housing and energy. Chuck Herrick and Betty Schwimmer (Shoshanna)
had been at Morningstar in the summer talking about ecology. They were full of enthusiasm
and ideas about ways to shape and use matter and energy in non-harmful ways ahimsa.
Chuck was talking about solar energy as a viable source for water and house heating NOW.
That was the first time I had ever heard the word ecology used in conjunction with our
actual immediate lifestyles (stuff like horseshit water heating outfits like
Craftshop Bob's on pg 7 of the Spring MOST). Chuck stayed with us when the powers that be
told us we had to have toilets to comply with the "organized camp" regulations.
(I remember Grant Ross saying, "Is it our toilets that are on trial here, or is it
US?) But anyway, if we had had another year hassle free from cops and injunctions, we
would have canned and dried food and had solar heating and greenhouses in place and
horseshit waterheaters, etc., because so many of those dreams were realized at Wheeler's
even when they were constantly beset by the law themselves.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After the first 15 arrests in October (among them, Kathy Sweeney, Laird and Vivian,
Doris, David and Penny, Don and Sandy, and Rena and Michael Morrissey) Larry figured he'd
be in the next bunch and he wanted to get Siddhartha and me out of the way, so he put
Siddhartha into his accustomed place in his backpack and we walked to Forrestville to stay
for a few days in a small commune of Merry Pranksters some of Ken Kesey's bus crowd.
These were landed gentry hippies staying in a beautiful old Tudor house with outbuildings
and several acres of land. A couple of them even had jobs. They were wired in Forrestville
and kept up with the latest Beatles and Dylan and Rolling Stones albums. One of the
Forrestville people, Larry Gamble, came regularly to Morningstar and hung out at Don and
Sandy's to discuss Christianity and the Gospel according to Dylan and the Beatles.
The Forrestville place was beautiful in the fall with a lovely pond a few hundred yards
into the woods behind the main house. Larry parked Siddhartha and me for a few days while
he went back to Morningstar to show some solidarity with the next arrestees. I read and
baked bread and read and sewed and read and took Siddhartha to the pond. One day we had
been swimming, and I was just settling down to sew a little when I looked up and there was
my two-year-old tot who had not only climbed the big old eucalyptus tree but had casually
walked out onto its wide limb over the water and was standing there with a big grin on his
face. (This was maybe the first tip-off about his true calling. Now, at 27, he's a
geologist by profession and a mountain climber who has climbed El Capitan
twice by avocation.) I was quietly frantic and struggled to keep my voice level as I
tried to talk him down. "Come back down to Mama, Siddhartha." He good-humoredly
turned around and WALKED down. I shouldn't have worried.
When nobody was arrested again that fall, I came back to Morningstar.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Except for Forrestville, I hardly left the property in those days, but every time I
did, I got into trouble for not owning any underpants. The night we all went to
Synanon to a dance I found a beautiful white lace dress to wear but it was very short
and when I danced......and then there was the time a bunch of us went to a nearby swimming
hole and I found a little shift to wear for a bathing suit but (you guessed it) there were
no pants to go with it. Some vigilant citizen called the cops, who came out and
reluctantly told us not to go away mad just go away. Turned out to be one of the
deputies who liked us and used to hang out at Morningstar on his days off. I wasn't trying
to be lewd. It was just that finding a pair of underpants to wear was low on my list of
priorities in those days. Morningstar faith.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The fall arrests brought out the spiritual side in us, which was definitely an upside.
Before that, I had taken my atheism pretty much on faith. The descending force of Sri
Aurobindo and psychedelics had made me aware of forces in the universe that I'd not even
considered before, but here were Don and Sandy talking about a personal God. A mere force,
they said, was LESS than a personal God of Love. Some of us took to gathering at their
still-unfinished house to read and discuss scripture. Cindy liked to say she was hanging
out at the temple. We decided that Jesus was the original hippie. As Kris Kristopherson
said, "Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends; reckon we'd just
nail him up if he come down again, BECAUSE (chorus) Everybody's gotta have somebody to look
down on, who they can feel better than at any time they please. Someone doin'
dirty decent folks can frown on; if you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to
ME." That pretty much embodied our evolving philosophy. Everybody and his cousins
were helping themselves to us. The Press Democrat was getting all their hot copy from us
for starters. Jesus' parables were all-inclusive they let everybody in and the tares
were allowed to grow with the wheat just as we let everybody in including a fair number of
flaming assholes. But the point was that we all do time at being assholes here and there
and now and then (although some of us are more flaming about it than others). But it's a
case of US, not THEM. And maybe Jesus died for our freedom not our sins.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I remember when someone brought a drug called MDA to Morningstar and we all took it and
ended up in these hugging parties. You'd see a whole bunch of people near the well or down
by the barn, all in a tight cluster like bees with their arms around each other. I
did my time in some of those clusters too and remember the feeling of oneness with all
life (even the ducks)...and the love.
It was during one of these MDA cluster hugs that Sandy (I think) came up with this
quote from Revelations, "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of
a potter shall they be broken to shivers, even as I received of my father. And I will give
him the Morning Star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the
churches." (Rev. 2:27-29). That one really got to Mystery where he lived. The man
went through a transformation for a few days anyway.
But MDA was extremely hard on the bod at least mine. I could never physically
handle psychedelics very well. They always made me extremely weak and hungry. Best trip
was the one without dues the afternoon someone (Marty I think) brought some hash
brownies to the meadowboat. Ouspensky said "eternity is the infinite existence of
every point in time." Well, this daydream really does last an eternity. Beautiful.
Somehow, that afternoon with the breezes blowing through our meadowboat and
butterflies fluttering around the corn patch and Tom's silver flute music coming from the
direction of the barn lasts forever in my memory and must still be happening in some
corner of the cosmos.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Christmas 1967 was a bright spot in the storm before the big arrests started. The
persimmon trees in the meadow were heavy with fruit a gift for the holiday. Joanie
and Nancy knew a bunch of advent traditions. They put them all together and Penny and
Marita made advent wreaths out of evergreens. Joanie stayed up all night in the upper
house making hot cross buns and we got up before dawn on the first day of advent (or maybe
it was Christmas morning) and we lit candles and walked all over Morningstar
two houses and to Don and Sandy's and all through the orchard and down to the barn and to
all the A-frames and tents and all the way down to the parking lot camps with these
itchy wreaths on our heads and lighted candles that kept going out and hot cross buns
(Joanie had it figured out so there was one for everybody) singing Adeste Fidelis and the
First Noel and Joy to the World, and wearing whatever fanciful Christmas outfits we could
put together. Don't know how many traditions we combined in this but figure we got the
whole winter solstice pretty well sewn up. It must have been Christmas morning because I
remember that there was a Christmas tree in the upper house with presents and some people
walked around all day like the ghosts of Christmas Past wearing those wreaths and playing
various musical instruments and somebody brought in an autoharp and went striding all over
the orchard playing it and it was very high and all the kids were running around trailing
Christmas tree decorations that somebody had brought from the outside world and tying each
other up with strings of popcorn. That was fun. But it was the calm before the storm,
because 21 people, including Larry, were arrested a few days later.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This time they got Larry Gamble from Forrestville and Kathy, David, Kyle, Grant Ross,
John Butler, Cindy, Doris, Al Koewing, pregnant Pat DeVita, Marita, Tomαs and Don and
The modus operandi of the powers that be were to arrest you, let you out on your own
recognizance with strict instructions to leave the commune, then rearrest you for
violating your probation if you didn't leave. So we all knew they'd be back.
After he got out of jail that first time, Larry started building another little house
concealed back in the woods in hopes that the cops wouldn't find it. But it wasn't
finished yet, and he was still sleeping in the Meadowboat with me (Siddhartha and I could
still sleep there because we hadn't been arrested).
In late February, when I was six months pregnant with Psyche, my parents sent me a
plane ticket to New York, and I was going to fly back for a visit. I knew Larry shouldn't
sleep with me in the meadowboat that night before my trip and I begged him not to. He
could sleep at the unfinished house. But he wouldn't. I woke up around midnight covered
with hives the only time this has ever happened to me before or since and like
Calpernia I begged him again, only I wanted him to LEAVE. He refused again and we went
back to sleep. According to the news article, it was 3:30 a.m. when the cops showed up to
arrest Larry. Oh my prophetic soul! I was frantic. "I told you, Larry" I stage
whispered. Somehow I had blotted from my conscious mind the realization that he obviously
WANTED to get arrested for solidarity's sake. He just hadn't counted on me freaking out so
bad and going berserk when they handcuffed him. Something snapped in my cortical synapses.
Siddhartha was sitting there waked up and dazed with his big blue eyes wide in the
flashlight light. I couldn't bear it. To this day, I feel my blood pressure rise when I
see ANYBODY being handcuffed, even on TV even supposed badasses. There were two
policemen, and I was hopping around between them and Larry, pregnant and naked as a
jaybird. I must have looked pretty funny, but the humor escaped me then. I remember that I
was trying hard to kick one of them in the balls, but my feet were bare and he was much
too tall to knee. I couldn't get a bead on either of them, and then horrors
handcuffed ME and the die was cast. Once they handcuff you to restrain you, they have to
Anyway, with my hands behind my back in cuffs, I couldn't put anything on, so the cop
had to reach into the meadowboat and get my purple velvet dress (that I was going to wear
to New York) and put it over my head. One of them carried Siddhartha while the other one
herded us up to the police car. Of course the noise had awakened Lou. He came out of his
cabin and I remember him saying, "I BEG you, don't take her or the baby." And
one of the cops (the nice one they were doing the good cop, bad cop routine even
then) said "Lou, I wouldn't have taken her for the WORLD, but she left us no choice.
She ATTACKED us and we had to restrain her. That's obstructing an officer in the
performance of his duty."
The ride to Santa Rosa was a nightmare. With handcuffs on I couldn't comfort my little
boy. He hadn't cried the whole time just looked at the scene in wide-eyed
bewilderment. But in the car ride he could see how upset his mama was and he finally
started to fret. The booking scene at the jail is a blur of bright fluorescent lights and
steel bars and cold sterile deadly cleanliness. This was truly the most traumatic
experience of my life so far ( I was 25) and it was a long time before I could even talk
about it. Really think, though, that I would have been a much better sport if I hadn't
been so pregnant.
Of course I didn't sleep for the rest of the night, and in the morning I remember they
served corn beef gravy on toast for breakfast and one of the women said, "Oh no, shit
on a shingle again!" and I wanted desperately to NOT eat in protest but I was so
hungry (as always) that I not only ate mine but somebody else's who didn't want
hers and of course felt very ashamed.
Lou was right there to bail me out the next morning. "OK, let's go spring
Pam," he was said to have said. So there was Lou and Rena and John Butler I
think (wait a minute wasn't he in jail?). At any rate, I was so glad to see them. I
was released on OR and we immediately drove over to the Juvenile Detention Center to get
Adam Sid, No. #1 Hippie Kid (as Lou used to call him). He was all bathed and dressed in a
little shirt and disposable diaper (I never used them in fact we didn't use diapers
during the day at Morningstar. We let the little ones run around bareassed and only put
cloth diapers on them at night.)
Siddhartha was fine. He had apparently charmed the pants off the caretakers there with
his giggle and his big blue eyes and dandelion thatch of hair. We couldn't get Larry out
of course. He had violated his probation. I was numb by that time and don't clearly
remember the sequence of events just that Siddhartha and I were driven to San
Francisco, probably by Lou, and put on an airplane that day. We stayed with my parents in
New York for about a month I think. I wrote to Larry every day and for the return address
on some of his letters he wrote "Durance Vile."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Larry and David Pratt and Larry Gamble and Don formed quite a bond during that month in
jail. Dylan's John Wesley Harding came out at that time, and a number of its songs seemed
pertinent to our situation, especially "All Along the Watchtower," "There
must be some way outta here, said the joker to the thief. There is so much confusion, I
can't get no relief."
When I came back to Morningstar, it was with a new resolve. I would insist on a trial.
I had been wronged, and I must show some solidarity with all the people who had gone to
jail for THE CAUSE. I went back to court and demanded a jury trial and insisted on
representing myself. (Crazy as a bat. It's true what they say be your your own lawyer
and get a fool for a client.) It's too bad that Lou was out of town at the time because he
probably would have dissuaded me from going to court in the first place. But I was Portia
discoursing on the quality of mercy. I was right and they were wrong. What I didn't take
into account was that I had been charged with assaulting an officer and obstructing an
arrest, and I HAD done that. The fact that the cop only had a little scratch on his cheek
and I had a black eye didn't cut any ice. I remember choosing the jury and the prosecutor
must have been having a slow week because he asked questions that sounded like something a
reporter from The Enquirer would ask. Wanted to know whether my husband was caressing me
sexually at the time of the arrest. "What the fuck has THAT got to do with the price
of beans?" I squawked. Lost points for that. I had said an unladylike word. For some
obscure reason I don't remember (probably trying to build a case for false arrest) I
called Joanie to the stand and she testified that I had indeed been traumatized. It was
very moving, but it didn't help my case. When I saw the court document that said STATE OF
CALIFORNIA VS. PAMELA JANE READ, that REALLY fed my martyr complex. The whole damn STATE
was against me! So since I had blown Mother Mary, I was now Joan of Arc.
The jury found me guilty even though one woman jury member was crying after my
"we-just-want-to-be-left-alone-to-live-our-beautiful-lives speech. Bill Wheeler told
Lou that I was "eloquent" in my own defense. So that and 25 cents would have
gotten us a cup of coffee (hey, it was 1968)! The judge refused to sentence me until after
my baby was born. But I never went back to be sentenced and they never pursued me. (Not
surprising, since they had never wanted to see me back there in the first place.) In any
case, the risk of having one's children taken away is a biggie. Too big to ignore. When
Lou came back, we were already moved to Bill Wheeler's land.
That day of the trial, we drove to Wheeler's afterwards don't remember whose car
we were in but it was cold and windy with brief blazes of sunshine. A strobe.
Sunlight through tears. Beatrice met us at the gate. She took off her sweatshirt (the one
she wore all the time; it was a faded ash rose color) and put it on me. "Here,
little mother" she said. "Be warm." Such an act of love that was.
We moved off land-access-to-which-is-denied-no-one in March. Charlie was already at
Wheeler's in the knoll area growing marijuana and pissing on it every morning. I remember
Carol, (who had Morningstar, the first baby born at Wheeler's) complaining about it.
"You're going to ruin those plants with nitrates and salt," she'd tell him, and
he'd agree, but every morning he'd get up and piss on the pot plants again.
We stayed on the ridge long enough to dig that we couldn't stay on the ridge. I was too
freaked out and pregnant and more than anything I wanted peace and quiet. So we headed
down to the East Canyon. I only recall the very earliest days on the ridge with Charlie
and Bea and Willie B. and Bill and Gay Wheeler and Carol and little Morningstar. At one
point, we stayed briefly with Bill and Gay in the open air wood house they had built. That
was a mending time. We drank goat's milk and ate wild honey on brown rice. We met Gay's
brother, John Holt, who was an educator and has written several books among them
"How Children Learn." I think I only met him for one afternoon, but he made a
deep impression on both Larry and me. He was so focused during the entire afternoon on
watching our Number One Hippie Kid.
I had made Siddhartha a fancy little towel poncho and he looked like a cherub
princeling in it. I remember his delighted giggle that day as he played with John Holt.
Larry also had a towel poncho along with a cap I had embroidered with Greek keys. The
effect of the outfit, especially when he was holding his guitar with its braided strap,
was of some kind of mythical medieval king or troubadour who had just stepped out of a
The most vivid memory I have of Bill Wheeler was of one misty morning on the ridge. He
was doing something milking a goat, fixing a car I don't remember. But when he
saw me, he looked up at the expanse of sky, stretched out his arms and as though
continuing an ongoing conversation, said, "But Pam, what does it all MEAN?"
It seemed that everywhere we went, we were among the first people to be there and when
it got too populated, we moved on, so we never got into the community at Wheeler's, but we
were the first people to move to the canyon. Again, it was March the mad month. Also
the month for Spring planting and new beginnings.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Larry scouted the East Canyon and said we could live there. There was an unpolluted
creek and grassy meadows with flowers and a place where we could divert the spring runoff
for a garden. We were caught up in the antinomies a strong desire for community and
an equally strong desire for wildness and solitude. The wild side won out mainly
because I was still so freaked about the trial and the possibility that the State of
California would try to take my children away from me. I had a profound distrust of
straight people and only wanted to associate with tribal hippies.
Larry took the tent he had made along with tools and food supplies down to our first
campsite, then came back for Siddhartha and me. I carried a pack with our clothes and
books and Larry carried Siddhartha on his back (because the descent was steep) with food
supplies. We had rice from somewhere and tamari and soy beans for protein and some oil and
we figured we'd grow our green things and find wild edible plants.
We set the tent up on a kind of shelf beside a tributary. That first night I had our
pot of brown rice cooking and had time to do some exploring before sunset. I noticed some
tall feathery plants growing by the creek, lighter green than carrot tops and more lush. I
tasted one. It was sweet and carroty. Nice. So I thought I'd put them in a stir fry with
some onions to go with our rice. Since we didn't know what they were, I decided not to
give Siddhartha any of the stir-fry (because as Lou says the Talmud says, "Never
overlook the possibility of catastrophe").
We were sitting there drinking our fennel seed and mint tea (both fennel and mint were
growing in abundance in the canyon) and watching the sunset over the water, when Larry
turned to me, swaying, his eyes crossing a little. "Do you think we're going to
die?" he said in a distant abstracted voice that only remembered alarm. I was swaying
more than a little myself. For some reason, this struck me as hysterically funny.
"No," I cackled, "Hell, that's the whole point -we're NOT going to
die. Cackle cackle." (I only remember SAYING this can't get into that head space
enough to remember what exactly I meant.)
Well, we found out later that the stuff was fool's parsley or hemlock supposedly a
poison. I don't see how it could have been as strong as the stuff Socrates checked out on
because it didn't even make us sick. Just high. When Larry told everybody on the ridge
about it, Raymond's teen-age kids came down and chomped away at the stuff like beavers
despite our warnings but they didn't really get off on it. Maybe we did because it
was cooked; I don't know. But the experiment wasn't repeated.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Gradually we settled into our new camp. I planted radishes and Swiss chard and peas and
onions, later squash and beans.
After a couple or three weeks, Laird and Vivian came down and asked us if we minded if
they made camp in the canyon. By that time, I was chilled out a little from the bust and
welcomed another couple, especially since I was about to give birth and the thought of
having another woman around was comforting. Their camp was upstream from us and there were
magical little creek pools up there that were deep enough to swim in. Sometimes I borrowed
their inner tube and floated down the long afternoons. Chilling out was a long process. I
had been used to working at Morningstar not hard but helping with the garden and
helping Cindy in the kitchen. Now all I had to do was cook our rice and take care of the
garden and relax. It took me quite a while to learn to do that. I remember Vivian saying,
"Just make yourself happy. Take it easy." Permission. So I did.
I got into sitting on big flat rocks in the middle of the brook and riverbeach-combing
for especially pretty pebbles. I would clean them off and arrange them by the various
miniature waterfalls all up and down the creek. There was lots of quartz and chalcedony
and puddingstone, and a fair amount of slate. Occasionally a piece of ancient and polished
coke or beer or medicine bottle would surface and I'd add that to the collection. Once
when Hoffy came down to visit us (we had known Hoffy in New Orleans and now he was living
on the ridge) he looked at the creek and said, "Jesus Christ it looks like a bunch of
ELVES live here!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The days were getting warmer, and on one of them, we happened to look up and there was
Jean, Nevada's girlfriend, sliding down the hill. (I told you it was steep.) She brought
some coffee with her, the first we had had in more than a month. What a buzz. She and
Nevada wanted to move down. Jean was fine, but I shuddered at the thought of Nevada in the
CANYON! Nevada was sweet when he was sober, but a drunk always got his Irish up and he
would inevitably go into flashbacks about Viet Nam and start raising hell. But Jean
assured us that Nevada was not going to drink in the canyon. This was going to be therapy.
(Well, the bottom line was that this was open land, so even though it was gracious of them
to ask us first, we couldn't and wouldn't and didn't ask them not to come. Hard core
So Nevada and Jean set up camp about 100 yards downstream from us, and it was fine for
a long time. They even took Siddhartha for four days just to have a little kid around.
They loved taking care of him and he loved all the extra attention. Nevada was actually
sober for many days, and when he did finally get roaring drunk again after a trip to town,
it wasn't Viet Nam that got him into a rage but Larry. We could hear him from our camp
yelling, "She's PREGNANT, dammit!" He was uptight that Larry didn't provide for
his family. Nevada at least got foodstamps (which Larry was against in principle; I forget
what the principle was exactly).
Anyway, we decided to move our camp further downstream where there were eucalyptus
trees and a big river beach. That camp was the setting for the Jack Mormon story in last
December's MOST. Larry found a huge redwood burl and began sanding it down and polishing
it. It was a deep warm redwood color and it fairly glowed a piece of found art that
Larry worked on sanding and polishing for a long time. And then it was stolen.
It was very heavy, so we could only guess that somebody with a vehicle came from Ryan's
property across the creek and carried it away.
We dug latrine trenches and in an old seasoned one I planted some
was supposed to be a no-no for Bill's sake we had agreed not to grow any
grass but Spring had sprung, and personally it's a tropism with me the light
principle returns and Little Pammie Potseed starts looking for likely places to grow boo.
One of the signs of Spring. So we grew some boss shit in our shit. (It hadn't flowered yet
when we left for New Mexico, so we just took a few leaves and left the rest to flower. We
heard afterwards that Hoffy made DAILY trips down the hill, harvesting leaves and leaving
the flowers to flower. (We never found out how much the flowers flowered.)
Some other people moved down to the canyon. I can't remember any of their names now,
but one was an ex-priest who was living with his girlfriend and they had a young man with
them who had just come back from Viet Nam freaked out. He had been living on a survival
level for a long time and couldn't stop watching his back and he couldn't sleep. Gradually
he chilled out, but he kept saying he thought he might go back because basic survival gave
him a rush that he missed. He had found himself in Viet Nam.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I was lumbering around now, heavy with child as the summer solstice approached, and on
Joanie's birthday, June 17, I went into labor. Somebody went up to the ridge and spread
the news and Beatrice and Joanie and Lou and Rena came down to see the birth. But it
turned out to be a false labor. I felt like an opera star who lost her voice just as she
was about to do her grand aria. Ten days later, I started laboring for real and Psyche Joy
Ananda was born under a starry sky. We think it was after midnight on June 28 (we were
clockless). She had bright coppery red hair and hazel eyes, and she nursed immediately.
She was sweet and lovely from the very first. Larry made her a beautiful redwood burl
cradle and for awhile all was well. I seemed to have gallons of milk for her and she
gained weight steadily.
Larry's brother Fred came to the canyon and set up a parachute tent at our old
campsite. It was spacious and dazzling white and the effect when you sat inside it was of
being inside a cloud. Nursed Psyche inside that tent day after day, and I got very spaced
out. Turns out I was sick. Had an infection childbed fever that kept getting
worse. Larry went up to the ridge and brought Bill and Gay down with their four-wheel
drive on Ryan's road across the creek and transported Psyche and me to a doctor who gave
me antibiotics. He said I was run down and anemic but the baby was fine. Those soybeans,
although a good source of protein, weren't very digestible and I couldn't handle them
during that last month of pregnancy. Bill and Gay were wonderful to us. They must have
paid the doctor because I know we didn't have any money.
A lot about that time I don't remember, but think it was August when we got a letter
from Cindy in New Mexico. She had sent it to us in care of Bill and Gay. A Morningstar
contingent had split off to New Mexico to try and start a commune there. "Why don't
you guys come out here," Cindy's letter said. "We need you." Well, if that
wasn't a clarion call, what was?