Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deep Springs or Bust!

i'm at Deep Springs College, at last!

after nearly a year wondering what this strange new world that ez had uncovered is all about, i arrived here after the himalayan policy research conference in madison on flights to reno via an incredibly (incredibly!!) beautiful drive south along the eastern sierra mountains with poplar groves bursting into gold and the raw ridges dusted with snow stretching toward the great basin of california.

i actually arrived at deep springs that first day about 6 pm, right before dusk. i wanted to get there before the light fizzled and i could see the distant green from miles away as i rose up a narrow wadi from big pine in landscape that wud be fully at home in the judean wilderness or tibetan plateau. at last, a highway sign that said, 'deep springs', to the right as a rough road lead through the alfafa fields to the gateway of one of the most isolated and unique college campuses in the world.

what a joy to get a big hug from ez as he strolled toward me on the open green of the ranch/campus and see him happy as usual here in his brave, isolated new world... a beautiful, intended, intellectual oasis in the desert landscape. a handful of his college friends are here, a couple of other parents, as well, a cat, a dog, two cows... well, you get the picture.

in fact, i got up w/ ez at 4 am (to the alarm clock of a van morrison song in ez' spacious room...) under the stars to go out to milk the two cows (lilith and ruth) and feed their four calfs in the dark. ez is the new cow boy for the winter, so he's learning the tricks of the trade from eamon, a friend from wisconsin. he was already much more practiced than me, as i filled my tin bucket at about half the pace of ez til he finally took over and finished the deed.

in brief, ez seems very comfortable in his skin, as always. he's wickedly busy w/ his academics w/ three courses this term, the required public speaking and composition classes, an optional auto mechanics and his regular jobs.

yet, he seems to swim very easily w/ it all. last night he gave me the synopsis of his course on the history of the Congo which seems to really animate him (Belgan treachery; European colonialism; Congoese corrugption; Mobuto's greed, American hypocrisy and the tragedy for the people). he's equally enthralled w/ Count Tolstoi and War & Peace, plus many of his other writings. intellectually, he seems to bursting out all over! but, he says, as well, that the time required for the academia is more than he wanted, not to mention the infamous SB (student body) which meets every friday for hours and hours and hours in managing their own estate -- as he still came here for some of that thoreau walden isloation and reflection, which he doesn't get enough.

for me, father of the story, it all seems quite good, encouraging and engaging. remarkable, actually. maturing, deeply. unique, absolutely!

ez and i spent our next day taking a four mile walk in bristlecone national forest about 10,000 way up in the white mtns just a few miles north of the deep springs valley. amazing gnarled, ancient trees, the oldest in the world at 5,000 years! great to stroll in that fresh mountain air, with the threat of rain, chatting the whole time while it drizzled a bit and the views down to bishop and the valleys below were amazing! the eastern sierra, so much drier than on the west side facing the ocean. here we're facing nevada and the deserts that stretch out to the rockies. it's a whole different feel of our america, vast, purple mountains majesty as they say, and untamable. beautiful.

then, since time is so tight (and gracious...), we drove to yosemite on monday en route back to reno by tuesday night. the drive along the east side of the sierra was magnificent, both coming and going. so beautiful, open, idyllic, wild and grand. we stopped where my friend, greg in k'du, said there was an exquisite side valley, by convict lake. the seen was so refined and charmed that we walked an hour or two around the lake to the base of the tall mountains, where a bevy of streams came out filling the landscape w/ willows and the clusters of popular trees inflamed w/ golden leaves against the stone mountains as we ambled on the well-made wooden walkway with the fresh, cool waters trundled into the lake.

afterward, we went down to the edge of the vast mono lake with undescribable space, wide open space all around and clouds billowy and white just seemingly sitting in the sky, unmoving and painted there like a raphael landscape...

in the late afternoon the drive through twuolme meadows above the yosemite valley in those fields of granite was another one for the books. i've driven many places in the world, but i will never tire of the approach to yosemite. sans doubt, g-d's gift to the americans and the new world. thank uncle teddy for creating these national parks so that there are not corporate sponsors all over the place. the fact that it only costs $20 still to enter the park is a gift of our federal government and wise, caring souls who appreciate the grandeur of such natural wonders. like a few years ago at crater lake, i'm transformed...

of course, leaving it late, there was no room at the elegant ahwanhee hotel where i wanted to treat ez, so we went to the other end of the spectrum with an unheated tent cabin in curry village. fortunately, we can do either end of the cultural divide and it was fun to be back in one of the most international, cosmpolitian campsites in the world. we sat down for our margaritas and burgers with an english couple, a former policeman who had escorted king birendra when he was on an official visit to england, and two cute, freckled young danish women who were visiting a friend in sf and took a couple days for yosemite while watching another disastrous performance by the yankees in the play-offs.

ironically, earlier we'd been at the same curry campsite and restaurant with the davis clan watching the 1998 world cup, france vs brazil with a racoon in the tree overhead some years before... the circles and cycles of time...

josh still doesn't know ez is coming east, i think. it will be a lovely surprise for him, hopefully! i've tried to keep this one as quiet as possible, b/c josh will be absolutely delighted to see ez in dc. from DSC to DC, as i say. it'll mean a lot, naturally, for ez to make his way all the way east, even or because it's only a few days, josh will appreciate it even more.

there's nothing more important for a parent than to see your children close and caring for each other. these two young men have begun to form lives more and more distinct and separate from each other now that they have both left lincoln, kathmandu, now their good two years at NMH and, at last, in colleges of their own choices. the future is theirs and yet to be written...

but for moi, what a joy! what an opportunity! the beauty of california rediscovered through my son and my sons rediscovered through me...

allah-hum-dillah, as they say!

by the grace of G-d, we are fortunate to be human beings in this risky and incredibly stunning natural world!!

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