Beloved pets reflect teachings in their actions: they are familiars for this reason, and wild creatures do the same. Observation and patience are required to access this knowledge. So is the belief in the magic of metaphor and imagination. Those two qualities help unlock shadow content by “pointing” outside to inner strengths and difficulties. Sometimes […]
I have personally moved at least 17 times and that does not include the time spent living between three residences at once. Add to this the four times I have moved with my Husband in the last 11 years. Musicians say that skill and repetition is equivalent to natural and passionate performance. Am I a musician or a reluctant Bedouin who has surrounded myself with multicolored carpets of intricate patterns? Sometime a pattern will leap off a carpet and I can hear the tapping of the Great Weaver’s shuttle late at night. I can see her gnarled fingers twisting and pulling threads; so, maybe I am a music lover if not a maker of it. Moving to Monterey, California in March of 2014 was a time when I stopped hearing songs.
Our things were transitioned into the new residence across several days of wet chill pounded into the earth by a grey sky. I endured this process by settling the contents of the house. I eventually decided it was time to venture into the woods and chose two different areas for hiking. Jack’s Peak nearly always filled with fog. It was close and from certain points I could see the bay. I followed trails up and down hills and glimpsed deep canyons plunging into the earth; I easily spotted brilliantly colored Red Headed Wood Peckers and Blue Jays on those walks. Garland Preserve, in the sunny Carmel Valley, was much warmer than Jacks peak. The meadows burst with yellow, red and blue wildflowers while thickly wooded areas protected trails that sharply cut into steep hills. The Red Tailed Hawk soared above my head on those hikes and I found an owl feather.
Then I needed a change of pace. So early one June morning I drove off Highway 1 into an area called Point Lobos. My hike began underneath Live Oaks dripping with long, shaggy moss: this was the Lace Lichen Trail which I followed to its juncture with the Pine Ridge trail. I surrendered myself to this quiet sanctuary and breathed in the Christmassy smell of the morning air. Slowly, I began to hear the rhythms of the wind mingling through the Forrest and the Pacific ravishing the shore. The infinite shuttle once again clicked as the hands of the Great Weaver bid it so; she ground me to the earth with pattern and hastened me toward the Sea with confidence. At the raw edge of the shore I saw her fly from craggy rocks in white bursts against blue sky and water.
I was jolted out of this waking dream by an image of an Octopus against my inner sight; I hiked back to the car filled with fear and wonder. The Octopus began to visit me in thoughts and dreams that I sketched onto paper and shared on Facebook. Those early images were not well received as people do not like slimy things with rows of suction cups attached to their arms! I remembered this response each time I reworked my sketch.
One afternoon from David Street I looked down toward Cannery Row and saw large, yellow and white Octopus arms on top of a building. This balloon figure was being used by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to advertise a new exhibit called “Tentacles.” My Husband and I visited it shortly after. In the museum proper we found small, Day Octopi housed in their natural habitats set in glass fronted wall units. In one enclosure, an Octopus used its suction cups to hold the glass and turn itself around; in another, the creature adopted its surroundings so precisely we could not see it. In the featured exhibit Cephalopods were given more life via displays of them in ancient mosaics and pottery. I was most fascinated by Omar Rayyan’s 2011 oil painting entitled, “Contessa with Squid.” The subject cradles a Squid, but Octopi tentacles form her hair, and she is dressed in 17th century garb. This artwork and exhibit further solidified my strange obsession with Octopus.
I next hiked trails bordering a conference center in Pacific Grove called Asilomar. I learned from a brochure that in the 1900s Phoebe Hearst – William Randolph Hearst’s Mother – initiated and organized this area as a tented retreat for YWCA girls. The check in building was later designed in the arts and crafts style by California’s first female Architect, Julia Morgan, of Hearst Castle fame. This knowledge and lovely architecture of Julia Morgan imbued me with a sense of that time as I stood upon the rocks and listened to the gull calls and surf echoes surrounding me; I looked into a tidal pool some feet below and viewed in and outrushing waters tussling sea plants. Standing on the rocks, I felt the exquisiteness of the sea moving in and out of my womb space. I could sense an Octopus out there in the limitless water…It all felt like a dream, but was it real?
It was at a meeting with ladies involved with the arts that I learned the truth of the matter. We were outside at Asilomar in the bright sun. Everyone was working on creative projects from the picnic benches. My sketch pad was open to my Octopus, who I named Molly, and I began to apply color to her arms and depth to her tentacles. The soft pastels felt good in my hand and I loved moving them around on the paper and smearing them with my fingers. One of the other participants approached me, sat down, and we began to discuss what interested us. The conversation turned to my work.
“So what are you working on there?”
“Oh, it’s something I have been obsessed with for some time. I have been instructed to put it on paper – this Octopus – to find out more about what it means.”
“Well I think it looks cool and interesting.”
“I have even named her and she is Molly; hey, have you been to the Tentacles exhibition at the Aquarium?”
“No, but I have read about it and intend to get there. Those Octopi are quite clever; they can squeeze through an opening and get out of anything, they can even take lids off jars!”
“I heard about this and think it’s fascinating! I wish I could actually witness this.”
“Wait a minute,” she said: did you hear about the Giant Octopus some divers were watching off Point Lobos?”
“About two weeks ago; it was on the news! Apparently, the Divers watched it for several days and then put a bait can out. The video they made shows the Octopus handling the bait can and then scurrying off with it. They watched it for about two weeks until it disappeared.”
So you decide about this story: is it creative nonfiction, science fiction or just baloney?
But what if it is real? What does that mean for you? Molly wants to know.
On Hallows Eve in 1997 I hiked in a section of woods across the street from my apartment complex in Clinton Township, Michigan. This wood was adjacent to the Community College and encompassed about 90 acres. The trails move about a landscape of tall hard wood and pine; in one area there is a little […]