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Linholme - The Back Way for web DSC_2850_01

Linholme - The Back Way for web DSC_2850_01

Episode 101. Little Mac's Memoirs of Now - A Way Way Away
I came upon a road that seemed to start from nowhere. I had been following an old logging path that ended in a rushing creek. A redwood trunk bridged the gap and I crossed that. Climbing up a steep slope to a ridge, I rested at the top to catch my breath. Also my legs ached like the devil. Bertie would say I'm too old for this rough an adventure, and she would be right as always. Nevertheless, I will be game, by golly, to the end.
Oh yes, the road. There on the ridge I spied a bench and went and sat there for a little further rest, as I was really winded and my heart was beating like the knocking of an angry person on a door. The bench, hewn from a log, looked out over the view toward the Pacific, where ridge after ridge unfolded in the distance till the fog swallowed all. Carved into the seat at my side were the words "A wee bench where we romanced together, Me and Jezzy, while we could".
The road led from the wee bench up the ridge and into woods. The way was not due west but north. West was my way, and that was on down to the valley and then up again. But curiosity prevailed. Where did a road go with a bench and a view and some memories at one end?
Well, it goes to a house in the woods. A large and elaborate old home made of wood that the moss mostly hid. I say elaborate because it has wings like octopus tentacles snaking out into the trees on all sides. A big fallen fir has caved in the main roof.
The big double doors in the front are wide open and have been so for some time, judging by the fact that the hinges have given way. And there is water streaming out and down the stone steps.
Inside is one great room, with the top of the fallen fir peering into the high vaulted ceiling. And, wonder of wonders, there is another fir growing in the room, right out of the floor, a floor of hard-packed dirt, shiny as oiled leather where patches of moss and mushrooms don't cover it. The stream at the front door in here proves to be a creek that meanders through the floor. The light comes from a glass wall on the southern side. The wall is streaked and dirty and cracked in places. The limbs of the tree have grown long on the side toward the light. They reach around a wooden platform atop of which is a plastic canopy weighted down in the middle with scummy rainwater, under which is a sort of throne which once was gilded but now is mostly just bare weathered wood.
On the throne is an old man, old as me and just as small. His booted feet dangle just above the platform. Things seem to be nesting in his long white matted hair and beard. A big grizzled black dog lies still beside the throne, staring out at the light with milk-white eyes. I think it must be blind.
It's not a royal robe the man is wearing but a frayed and threadbare grey and crimson striped bathrobe. It's not a scepter he's holding but a curvy stick of purple manzanita. It's not a crown on his head but an old football helmet. Still the effect is of a kingly personage, maybe one loose from a madhouse.
Is he sleeping or dead? I don't know until I step up on the platform and the boards creak and the king comes to life with a shrill angry cry.
"Well, what took you so long? I've grown old, goddamnit, waiting on you! Have you brought what I ordered?"
The blind dog stands and starts barking. From the higher limbs of the fir, a great horned owl swoops down and lands upon the dog. From its perch on the dog's back, the owl regards me fiercely and says, "Whooooooo?" and I feel the demand.
I'm on the spot. I don't know what to say. I feel inclined to bow.
I bow.
"Are you nuts?" cries the king.
(to be continued)
5 December 2018
Texas Jim
Linholme, near Redwood Valley, California
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Keywords:buckeye, california, dirt, forest, golden, grass, gravel, hill, hillside, long, mendocino, redwood, road, slope, tall, trees, valley, winding, woods