When my youngest entered kindergarten, I went through the Terwilliger training to become a nature guide. Each week we learned from a naturalist. We passed around a snake and felt the heartbeat of a sparrow. I learned what science could be about, a living interdependence of niches and variety. I was in awe.
I became the site guide for Ring Mountain, a place near me owned by Nature Conservancy. It was preserved because a plant grew only there: the Tiburon Mariposa Lily. It had sprung up in serpentine soil, and survived isolated by sandstone. A geologist said one could walk across the country to experience the variety of rocks on Ring Mountain.
We guided groups of children in fourth and sixth grade up and then down the mountain. We showed them how the Coast Miwok survived there, how everything they needed was here. Living under a buckeye tree, next to a stream, there is summer shade and winter sun. We made a grocery list. The bay provided an abundance of food as did the oak trees. Quail were easy to trap. There was soapwort for cleansing, and mint for tea.
We ground acorns in the rock worn by centuries of grinding, and saw pieces of clam shell left in the midden. As we looked out at the bay, we spoke of how we balance the need for housing with land that is preserved.
At the top we saw petroglyphs, carvings to honor looking west where the sun sets.
Mrs. T. would have us raise our arms in a V like a vulture, and hold them straight out for a hawk.
Yesterday on a walk at Tennessee Valley I saw a quail perched as sentry. The quail knew I wasn’t a threat. I knew the sound of the quail from Mrs. T. – quaquerko – quaquerko.
Today I’m surprised to see myself in the background of this photo promoting and honoring Terwilliger films. I’m wearing blue, and I see my son, and in the video both sons. It was many years ago, and now, the past is preserved as we carry forward as gently as possible our footprint on planet earth, our home.
Here’s the video: