[R-G] Sun on the Water
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 3 17:02:29 MDT 2006
[Before I get started, I need to say that the great Cat, Gandalf, devoted
comrade of our good colleague, David McReynolds, is right now facing a
potentially serious medical situation and both of these fine entities could
use all of our best good wishes and, if one is so inclined, prayers. I love
all of our Furry Friends, but Cloudy [my half-Bobcat] and I have an
especially deep and enduring tie. We empathize much with David and
When I can see literally, or feel figuratively, the Sun shining on the
Water, I know that Life opens out, not in. As Maria and I and Hunter
[Shelty] junketed into the Hills this morning the absence of any viable
stream of water Up There did not prevent us from seeing Sun and Life in
every piece of sage, juniper, wildflower and wild creature.
And, in a very real way, our trip was a signal milestone -- a very hopeful
Forty years ago I was struck with what all of us -- those family members who
saw me then and the docs of today -- now know was a moderate version of
systemic lupus [SLE]: a genetic and lethal wraith whose skeleton hand jumps
generationally -- and often jumps across generations -- to hit its targets
who, themselves, have not a whit of free will say in the matter. Back then,
just starting my '30s and not inclined to see any physician, I continued my
work, despite fatigue and other would-be inhibitors, got twelve hours of
sleep each night and Eldri's fine and healthy foods, and suppressed the then
mysterious Thing in a couple of months. But in due course, after decades of
dormat status, and three years ago at a point where I was doing [as I had
for years] extensive mountain hiking every early morning, and following a
short and cunning buildup, It struck me hard and viciously and deeply on
many internal fronts.
The doctors pronounced it "a very, very serious case of SLE," and have
since told me that I am "lucky, very lucky" to be alive. But I don't think
it's luck. I am inherently tough and I fight hard. After skirting the Fog
on a number of occasions, I was able to function -- halfway. And my mind
remained quite clear. My feet continued their length growth [as they have
done for the past seventeen years] and I optimistically bought, when I
needed them, new Size 16 mountain boots [Lowa.] But hiking [always with
Maria and Hunter Shelty] was tough and generally fairly short -- marked by
extreme shortness of breath and shaky legs. Twice, having gotten
precariously down from the Hills and finally to the stretch of pavement only
a short distance from our house, my legs literally gave out and Josie had to
come in her Jeep Liberty to cart her father home. I began to think that
life for me was, at best, watching mediocre television [and I got damn tired
of seeing "law and order" invariably win] or -- and this is just fine --
writing things and corresponding with good friends via computer. A change
in meds did see me lose my excess weight [70 pounds] and also the
diabetes -- each malady produced my one of those medicines [Prednisone].
This Spring has been tough and very precarious. I have always been able to
handle stress quite well -- in pretty cool fashion, if I say so myself. But
Lupus and normal stress are allies -- feed each other voraciously -- and I
have lately had no end of Lupus flares and episodes of extreme fatigue.
Still, I maintained my basic optimism and resilience and beginning recently,
each night before I slept, I took my mind quickly through my Holy Lands --
the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area of Northern Arizona where as a Teen I
killed my extremely large Coming of Age Bear -- and as I did that I quietly
told myself, "While I sleep, push this killer Lupus down."
We have taken lately a few preliminary shorter trips into the Hills and
we've noted that I no longer have any shortness of breath and my legs, still
a little shaky going downhill, have been standing up well. And when I get
home, I am no longer exhausted as was once the case.
But, still, things were [and honestly are] tough. Then yesterday, when I
arose at my usual early hour, I felt good -- very good indeed. That
positive feeling even carried through most of the day.
So today we went much, much further: the long way to the First Top [this for
the benefit of family members who, although living elsewhere, know the
turf], following the trail [no human sign on it] that goes along the edge of
the steep canyon to our left. Then we topped out, saw our special valley of
the old John Gray [Hatchiorauquasha] winter camp, the mountains just beyond
still holding considerable snow. When we went down, we took the stretch of
what passes for a not-extensive BLM dirt road -- which we noted with
disfavor has been sort of smoothed with a small grader -- but we take heart
in the fact that "Nothing lives long, only the Earth and the Mountains."
[Rain and snow will take care of that road.] As a kid in Northern Arizona,
fabricating my age to well-aware USFS personnel, I did much fire fighting
work and then remote lookout work -- and even did a full summer of the
latter much later, on a remote mountain in Northeastern Arizona back in the
Summer of '60. I have always known that roads mean people and some people
[not all] can mean, among other things, forest fires.
We reached home in very fine form indeed. It took much longer than would
have once been the case -- but we got to that which we targeted and we got
back. Next time, we'll shoot even higher.
We are, of course, under no illusions at all. SLE, a deadly adversary, is
rooted into my very being -- even deeper than bone, flesh, fiber. There are
many things I still can't do. But I am out to drive It down, 'way down,
back into its grim and nether Cave.
And to then bring down every blocking rock I can into that Den's entrance.
As Ever, H
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
Check out our massive social justice website: www.hunterbear.org
Honored with The Elder Recognition Award by Wordcraft Circle of Native
Writers and Storytellers:
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
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