Migration

Swans in Rice Field

Swans in Rice Field

I was surrounded by a cacophony of swans and geese.  Such a perfect word for the exuberant conversation of migratory Tundra Swans, Snow, Ross and White-Fronted Geese that  arrive every winter to the flooded rice fields in the upper Sacramento Valley.  I spent the afternoon with them recently, amazed as I imagine people have always been at this seasonal flyway.

Two hundred years ago, a Patwin woman – one of the valley tribes I write of in my book – might have looked up at the first honks of returning swans, knowing it was the time for gathering acorns and manzanita berries.  Spanish, Mexican, then European settlers from the east probably saw the migration as the arrival of protein for their winter larder.  But for me, it’s the anticipated arrival of wonder.

People migrate – some.  Migrant workers follow the ripening of spring lettuce and winter squash.  As a rural school nurse, I knew certain families would show up in the spring when the weather was warm enough to camp out at the river.  They stayed until the first frost, then moved on.  Now it’s the seasonal folks who arrive in fall with their trimming scissors to work the local cash crop.  When the harvest’s done, they too move on.

I wonder how the long-term impact of climate change will affect the signals that trigger migration?    2012 was the hottest year on record – a recent report by NOAA  (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Earlier springs, longer, hotter summers, harsher wildfires, droughts, crop losses. Will my great grandchildren tell their children of the days when swans used to overwinter where farmers used to grow rice in the Sacramento Valley?

Stone mileage marker hidden in rice fields

Stone marker hidden in rice fields

Mileage marker between Marysville and  foothill towns

Mileage marker between Marysville and foothill towns

I like my present-time roots.  I feel them deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but I also feel them across the valley where my ancestors settled in 1849.  I like making that trek. I feel the pull of my own winter migration when the returning swans call me to drop what I’m doing, and meet them in the valley.

Evolution of The Desk

Stone Portal 2Do we have the ability to influence our ancestors?  Or our future descendants?  On a restless night several years ago, I found these thoughts changing the course of my novel.

I started out inspired to write about my Great Grandmother Emily who settled during the 1849 Gold Rush in the Sacramento Valley.   But I didn’t want to write yet another biography of a head-strong, determined western woman.  The book shelf’s already full of those!  So I stepped back to look at the larger landscape.

3. Misty Autumn Back Road.Camptonville 11.07Of course…we’re all spirit, and if time transcends the here and now, we all have access to each other’s lives.  What if I could slip back into my great-grandmother’s life and tell her what she’d need to know that might ward off future ecological devastation?  Or hear my great-granddaughter imploring me to build now what she’d need to survive when she returns to our abandoned homestead in the far future?

PetroglyphAnd what if we’re all connected by the vision of an ancient woman of wisdom who saw it all?  Shima’a found a portal that transcended time.  From the heartwood of an oak tree (that as an acorn grew from her heart when she died), a small oak writing desk became her means of inspiring women to gather their power and create new ways of living together. The old, aggressive masculine constructs have run their course. If earth and humanity are to survive, the feminine has to ascend.

 

© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2012 – 2013, except as otherwise noted.

Welcome to My Blog

California Landscapes of Women, Words and Wonder.

sun crop 2

It’s five in the morning and this is my first entry.  It’s also the dark of night, my best time for writing.  Like slipping between the covers of dreamtime and daylight – a very thin space where the two relax into each other and birth words that neither could have done alone.

What will you find on these pages?  You’re probably as curious as I am.  If you know me personally, you may have come here as a friend to touch base, see what’s up.  Or you may be someone who’s heard about my novel-in-progress, The Desk, or have read sections from it and return to feel its texture.  I was approached recently by two casual acquaintances who asked when the book would be ready.  They wanted to read more.  Derelyn and Michelle, this blog’s for you!

I anticipate this blog will be my way of telling a fuller story.  Originally, my novel was just that – a historical fantasy of what it might have been like to have lived my Great-Grandmother Emily Hoppin’s life.  Though I never met her, she’s my family heroine – arriving in California soon after the 1849 Gold Rush, settling in the small farming town of Yolo near Sacramento.  Emily was widely known as a woman of principal whose articulate words, both written and spoken, influenced the future of women and the land in turn-of-the-century California.  I have her scrapbook filled with speeches and newspaper articles about her.   I feel her in my blood.

In future blogs, I’ll describe how her personal life morphed into a fictional story, then morphed again into a fantasy that spans three generations of women, all interconnected by a secret held within the family desk.  Present, past and future, if you will.

This blog is my three-dimensional tic-tac-toe game where I can play with time, history (real and imagined) and see the world as it could be.

If you’re interested in History, there will be  sections on early California.  Geneology?  I’ll post what I have about the real lives my book is based on. California Landscape:  I’ll have photos and descriptions of nature’s wonders and their changes over time.  Concern for the Future:  I’ll not only describe my own impressions, but will link to other projections of where the earth is headed based on our past and current practices.  Collective Power of the Feminine: Here’s a place where I take heart that the growing bonds of feminine (not just women’s) energy will bring a powerful caring and protection for our earth.   And last, Creative Writing.  I’ll include sections of The Desk and write about how I pull all this together

I’m looking forward to your feedback – tell me what works for you, suggest nooks and crannies to explore, share your own thinking and keep me moving forward!