Similar in design to the box for Dan's pair of underhammers, this one also features accoutrement and the brass plaques. Below, a combination tool with bison horn grip.
Shannon's Pipe, Filled With Love
is no one more deserving of being a pipe bearer, and I felt it was high
time to provide Shannon with her own. The bowl, with Eagle at the head,
is of Pipestone, such a wonderful material to work! The stem is a fine
piece of curly maple, and is inlaid with abalone and brass and silver
Eagle is our connection to the Great Spirit, and helps to carry our
prayers. To Shannon, Eagle signifies serenity and strength; the ability
to fly through the rain and rise above the clouds.
This is the first pipestem I have inlaid. I chose the heart as the central figure, because this pipe was made with all my Love.
JP's Spiral Horn
of this wonderful horn (below and left,) actually begun several years
ago, and recently completed. This was one of the first horns I put a cap
on, and the first horn JP carved. Now complete, it satisfies the sailor
in the lad, as it is quite nautical!
Bob's horn; a gift from JP (below)
Note the octagonal engrailing and the scalloping and ropework where the strap attaches to the horn.
course, I'm prejudiced, but I think this is JP's best yet! The detail
and personality of the horn are excellent, and I can't wait to get out
to the range & show it off!
Eagle holding the banner, which reads, "Mitakuye Oyasin," meaning "All
my relations," in Lakota, and the dogwood blossom border. Above is
JP's cartouche and my shield.
Only The Earth and Sky
A story of the past, the future, the Pipe, and a Prayer.
c 1999 Robert S. Worthington
John gazed out upon the early morning quiet, as he stood in the
rough-hewn doorway of his cabin. Steam rose in a lazy spiral from the
battered old coffee mug, held like an offering between his equally
battered old hands. With intense razor eyes, he watched his silent
prayer rise with the vapor and disperse into the sky, whispered, “All my
Relations,” and continued his silent vigil, waiting for the Beast.
His cabin was perched on the north side of a gulch that, just below
him, took a turn to the south, down to the valley where the crystal
waters of his little spring-fed stream joined with Humbug Creek. This
particular twist in the terrain afforded John a panorama of nearly all
the valley and its surrounding mountains.
To the east, the crest of the ridge was backlit with the same red ember
glow that was just now touching the tops of the highest peaks on the
other side of the valley. The air was still; dawn’s colors fading from
indigo to lavender to pale blue, with iridescent coral streaks of clouds
hanging above Gunsight Peak, as the last traces of night fled across
the unseen western horizon.
and sugar pines along the canyon rim stood watch with him; dark
sentinels against the pale dawn sky. A waning quarter moon hung suspended
between the twin ancient incense cedars that rose from the canyon floor
to tower above all else within his view. Somehow, these majestic old
giants had survived fire, chain saw, and pestilence; wise elders
standing in dignity among their relations.
Douglas fir mingled with the pines in the shade of the gulch, and
closer to the creek, big-leaf maple and alder shared the moister ground
with the cedars. The higher, south facing slopes were predominantly
chaparral, mixed with live oak and a few big pines. The dense growth of
manzanita and wild lilac, so resistant to two-leggeds, was safe haven
for the other creatures that inhabited these hills.
In all that
he could see, no trace of humanity was visible, and it was easy to
imagine he was alone in this place. In reality, there were about thirty
full-time residents in the valley, with a few more who came in the
summer. The population had remained fairly consistent for over a hundred
years, ever since the gold played out. During boom times, there had
been over two thousand souls working that valley, and they had called it
Humbug City, but without the lure of the
yellow-metal-that-makes-white-man-crazy, this place was just too
inaccessible for most people. Until now.
Few sounds broke the
silence. John could make out the cautious footsteps of mama doe and her
fawn heading down to the creek for a morning drink. A covey of quail
followed suit, chuckling amongst themselves as they picked their way
between moss-covered rocks to reach the same watering hole countless
generations of their family had visited daily. The old man had watched
them for nearly fifty years, and it was now, as it always had been.
After today, it would be no more. His heart broke again at the thought,
and a lone drop of moisture navigated the chiseled pathways of his
As he listened to the early birds earnestly
discussing their plans for the day, he wondered out loud, “Do they
know?” They sounded as cheerful as ever, oblivious to all that stood
outside their control.
“Maybe that’s the key, be bird-like and just fly away from it all.”
Squirrels chattered as they sprinted across slender branches, pausing
to scold a placidly unconcerned old porcupine as it ambled down to join
the gang at the creek.
It had always been so.
belonged. They were the voices in the Song of Life, as were the rush of
the night winds that would wash down the mountainside like surf on the
shore, and the drone of a bumblebee on a sunny spring morning. Or the
sky-rending lightning and thunder that would shake the very earth, and
sometimes scorch it. He knew that voice well; he had felt its power and
survived, and it had named him.
Coyote the trickster’s laugh in
the night, the seldom heard but unmistakable rasp of Cougar’s growl, and
Eagle’s lilting tremolo lyric to the Great Spirit; all were parts in an
infinite and perfect harmony.
It had always been so. Soon it
would not. Soon other sounds would intrude. Sounds that would shatter
the air, drown out all others, and change their world forever.
Agitated by this unwanted awareness of what was to be, he stirred
restlessly, a familiar bitterness rising within. He spat, trying to rid
himself of the taste of anger, and uttered one word; “Bastards!”
All too well, John knew that sound. It was the voice of the Beast. He
had fought the Beast, this and many times before. After seventy years,
he still remembered why.
The unknown dark depths beckon,
forbidden mystery reaches out, calling to me from the forest. I give in
to the lure of the slender path that leads to that wonderful, silent
place of my imagination. On three-year-old legs, I take my first
tentative but willful steps down that path. Then, having broken through
the invisible boundary my parents forbade me to cross, I run,
alternately laughing in joy of discovery and holding my breath in
anticipation of what lies beyond the next turn. I stop abruptly, as too
soon the trail ends in a tiny clearing. A rope swing, suspended from an
overhanging limb, marks its center, the bare, dusty soil beneath worn
into a shallow depression by countless pairs of children’s feet.
I stand still, entranced by the shimmer of dust stirred by my own feet,
as it dances in the sunlight that filters through the trees above.
Something about the dust….for a moment I am touched by the ghost of a
I do not sit or even touch the swing. Instead, I look around for a continuation of the path, finding none.
“Is this all? The woods go on, why doesn’t the path?” With a child’s
innocence, I know there must be more, but I find no way deeper into the
densely growing woods that deny further passage to this young explorer.
“Johnny, where are you?” I hear my mother call, worry apparent in her
voice, and I turn and run back down the trail, glancing back at what I’d
About a month later, the big machines had come, and
in one day, turned that little patch of woods into bare, tortured earth.
For what purpose, Johnny never knew. His family moved shortly
thereafter, before any construction began. After all these years, Old
John still remembered crying in grief and rage as the ‘dozers did their
dirty work; the sound of their destruction so loud he could not hear his
Thus, he had come to know the Beast. Now, he
faced it again; this snarling, ravenous monster that would consume the
very earth itself, lay waste to all in its path, and leave as its
excrement, a swath of concrete twelve lanes wide, straight through the
heart of one of the last remaining wilderness areas on the West coast.
Right through the center of this valley, up this canyon, obliterating
his home and this place he held so dear. Straight through the center of
Consciously trying to break free of this dark mood,
he walked out into the middle of his yard as the sun topped the ridge,
casting diamonds among the dew-laden needles of the pines. As he had
done at sunrise every morning for all these years, the one known to some
as Lightning-Strikes offered a prayer to each of the Four Directions,
and to Mother Earth and Father Sky. He gave thanks to the Great Spirit
for all he’d been allowed to experience, for the gift of all he had
known and loved. And knowing this was the last time he would ever greet
the sunrise from this spot, John L. Hamilton gave thanks for having had
the privilege of being here for so many years.
Still, his heart knew the bitter as well as the sweet, and he could not let go of a certain ambivalence.
“All my Relations,” he whispered.
After a moment, he retreated into the cabin to pour another mug of
coffee. He took his cup back outside, and sat on the edge of his porch.
The sun was not yet a hand’s breadth above the ridge, and already its
warmth was penetrating the morning chill. It felt good right now, but
this warm this soon meant the day would be a scorcher.
could get pretty hot around here today,” he reflected, grimly. John
shook his head, still trying to see some way, any way, to change the
course of this day.
Truth was, he didn’t know what he was going
to do when they came. He could go peacefully, or put up a fight. There
weren’t any other options left that he could see, and the net result of
either would be the same.
All the legal avenues had long since
been exhausted. When the proposal had first been unveiled, the valley
residents formed a grass-roots organization to oppose it, gaining notice
and aid from various environmental groups. In the beginning, they felt
strong and hopeful, with the power of public opinion and the
righteousness of their Cause to feed their optimism, but all the
injunctions and law suits and appeals to the EPA had amounted to no more
than a three-ring circus. He and his neighbors weren’t the lion tamers,
after all, but dancers to the other end of the whip.
skirmishes were fought and lost, outside financial support gradually
faded away. Even the Sierra Club, their largest and most ardent
supporter, gave it up as a lost cause. “We feel our funds can be
utilized with greater effect elsewhere,” their earnest young
representative had reluctantly explained. She was truly sorry, and you
couldn’t blame them. No sense throwing good money after bad.
Humbug Coalition, as the valley residents half-jokingly called
themselves, exhausted their personal financial resources in one last
desperate appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court.
The appeal was denied.
There had been petitions, demonstrations, and protest marches. Both
Earth First! and Greenpeace helped, and some of their members had been
arrested, along with John and his neighbors and a few other brave souls,
when they had chained themselves together to block the path of the
In the end, progress and the bottom line had prevailed, and the gluttonous Beast had been unleashed in the valley.
The last holdout, he stubbornly refused to sell his land to the state,
and that had halted construction at his southern property line for
several months. Finally, the court condemned his property and gave him
until today to vacate.
That sanctimonious asshole of a judge had
reprimanded him; “John Lightning-Strikes Hamilton, it is the opinion of
this court that your personal wishes do not outweigh the benefits this
project would have for the vast majority of the public.”
(“All my Relations…”)
“We therefore find that the merits of the Cross-State Freeway Project
do indeed justify the condemnation of your property. You are given
thirty days henceforth to vacate said property. Failure to do so will
subject you to arrest. Do I make myself clear to you, Mr. Hamilton?”
“About as clear as bullshit can be, your Honor.”
The judge’s face turned crimson, his jowls quivered as he half-rose
from the bench. “You will spend those thirty days in jail if you
continue to show disrespect for this court, sir!”
your Honor. No disrespect intended.” He could hardly keep a straight
face, but somehow, he managed. “I was merely answering your question as
honestly as I could, sir.”
“Enough, or I’ll hold you in
contempt!” The judge gave him a look that would have him burnt at the
stake, then slowly sat down. “Just be out of there in thirty days.
Reimbursement for said property to be determined by fair market value,
minus court costs.”
“Bang!” the gavel fell; say no more.
John refused to accept the check the state issued in payment for his
land. The court clerk was incredulous, “They’re going to take your land
anyway, sir, whether you take this check, or not.”
He found himself smiling at the young man’s concern. “It’s the principle of the thing, son.”
The man’s expression told him the clerk thought he really was what he’d heard they called him; “The Fool on the Hill”
strains of the old Beatle’s tune in his head, and emotions that ran
from sardonic humor to righteous wrath, he strode from the County
Courthouse, broke and thirty days short of homelessness.
Now, John contemplated the home he had built with his own hands, so many
years ago. Three small rooms, it had originally been one. The rafters
were once his tipi poles, and nearly all the rest had either come from
his land or the town dump. A few rolls of roofing, some pipe, nails, and
an old wood stove had completed the picture for about three hundred and
Originally, it had been a vacation home. When
the economy plummeted, and personal freedom lost ground in the social
turmoil of the first few years of the twenty-first century, he, his
wife, and two sons had moved there, seeking refuge from the chaos. At
that time, they had added two more rooms, a solar collector for
electricity, and an on-demand water heater. He saw no need to change
anything else. The hydraulic ram still pushed water up from the creek,
and he still used the composting outhouse he’d built before the cabin.
It had been a good home.
The boys had been nearly of age when
they came here to live, and though they loved the place, were ready to
follow their own Paths. They returned often, and had been there, chained
on either side of him, when they had confronted the Beast.
They had all felt the presence of their mother’s spirit with them, there at the barricade. She was here with him, now.
years ago, John and his sons had scattered her ashes from atop old
Craggy. He turned now, and as he did so often, felt her essence
reflected from the mountain that rose steeply to the North, now bathed
in the glow of the morning sun.
With a catch in his voice, he uttered, “All my Relations.”
After a long moment, his thoughts returned to his present dilemma. The
rifle or the Peace Pipe were his only choices, the way he saw it. He
hadn’t packed anything, nor made any preparations to leave. His garden
stood in full summer’s growth, early vegetables nearly ready for
harvest. All was as if he would go on living here indefinitely.
Well, his future certainly was indefinite, that much he knew.
he still hoped for some sort of sudden inspiration, a revelation that
would show him a new and previously overlooked alternative. He had
fasted and prayed with the Pipe, and spent hours in the sweat lodge,
asking the Grandfathers to help him find clarity, asking the Great
Spirit to guide his footsteps on the Good Red Road.
climbed to the top of old Craggy, and for three days and nights had
sought a vision there. Some sign, something, anything.
vision, no sign. The Grandfathers only repeated, “Nothing lasts forever,
only the Earth and Sky remain.” Somehow, this just seemed too
fatalistic for him to accept as an answer.
John refilled his mug, and
once again resumed his sentinel’s post in the doorway. The sun was high
enough so that now the eastern ridges and canyons were a mixture of
light and shade. The warming air held the sweet scent of pine resin
blended with the more astringent tang of the aptly named creosote bush.
“Soon now,” he thought, “we’ll be smelling diesel.” At that moment, a
flash of reflected sunlight from across the valley caught his eye. Alert
in an instant, the hawk-like intensity of his gaze focused on the trail
of dust that was rising from the caravan of eight or so vehicles making
their way down the High Road toward their appointed destination.
“State troopers,” he muttered out loud. For a moment, he wondered why
they hadn’t just come in on the new freeway cut, instead of taking the
old way over the mountain. Then, further down the valley, a similar dust
cloud drifted where the Low Road crossed over Humbug Creek, and he
“They’re coming in from every way possible. Must be
expecting a fight. Jeez, people, it’s just me, one lone guy.” As his
surprise turned to disgust, then anger, although his expression did not
alter, his eyes held the look of frozen fire.
“We can go there,
all right,” and for the first time that morning, he acknowledged the old
.45-70 Sharps that leaned against the wall within reach of his left
hand. Contemplating the gleaming, well-oiled antique, John wondered if
he could actually shoot someone, even now, with nothing left to lose.
didn’t even hunt anymore. Hadn’t shot a critter in thirty years. A
conscientious objector to the Viet Nam insanity all those many years
ago, he still considered himself a pacifist.
He still loved to
shoot. Targets, punching paper, as aficionados of the sport called it.
It was his meditation, his zen.
Many people didn’t understand what they saw as a contradiction, that
shooting for him was not an act of violence. The focus, the breathing,
the Oneness of mind, body, gun, earth, air, and target helped him find
that calm Center of his being. It really was no different than bowling
or golf or baseball, or any contest where the accuracy of your shot
depended on the synchronicity of your senses. John was damn good at it,
too, having won first place in the National Silhouette Matches two of
the three years he competed.
Ironic that after a lifetime as a
Peaceful Warrior, he now contemplated a violent conclusion. His anger
and frustration were such that even though the idea brought pain to his
heart, he thought that, yes, he probably could kill.
“Is it not
justifiable? The trees and the animals, our Mother Earth are being
ruthlessly destroyed. Is it wrong to take up arms to defend the helpless
ones that cannot fight for themselves?”
“All my Relations…”
He thought back to another time and place when he had faced similar
odds. It had also been a Holy War, his first. And it had not been
Johnny had come home from summer vacation the night before.
I awake from my dreams to the low, distant growl of heavy machinery. It
is a sound that evokes unpleasant emotions, although I do not
immediately remember why. As my foggy head clears, I realize the noise
is coming from somewhere in the woods across the street.
in an instant, hopping on one foot and then the other, as I pull my
pants on and head down the hall toward the sound of my mother’s presence
in the kitchen.
“What’s that sound, Mom?” The alarm in my voice is almost tangible.
She is mixing something in a bowl, but stops at my question. She
hesitates before responding, spoon suspended over the bowl, dripping.
The sadness and compassion evident in her expression at this moment will
make me realize, later, how much she understands now.
“I was afraid you’d hear that, Honey. They’re building new houses over there.”
Before she can say more, I run to my room, throw on the rest of my
clothes, grab my BB gun, and head out the front door at a run. Mom is
calling me back for some breakfast, but I ignore her, and run through
the neighbor’s yard and up the hill, into the woods. Thirty, fifty
yards, further, the sound gets louder, but I see nothing yet. A hundred
yards, and abruptly, the forest ends.
I stop suddenly at the new
edge of the woods. The land has been cut away, and I stand on the
crumbling lip of a man-made cliff. What once had been an old growth
deciduous forest of huge old oaks and chestnuts, maples and poplars is
now a several hundred yard wide swath of barren, leveled earth that
stretches as far as I can see in both directions. Fallen trees lie
heaped in burn piles, each fifty to a hundred feet wide and twenty or
thirty feet high; my old friend’s essences rising to the heavens in
smoke and ash.
I stand there, tears streaming down my face, as I
empty my BB gun at the distant, dust-churning bulldozers, their drivers
as oblivious to my presence and the hail of BBs falling far short of
their mark, as they are to their heinous crime I witness.
it was, at age eleven, and well before the word, ecotage, entered our
lexicon, Johnny enlisted the aid of a couple of friends and embarked on a
Crusade. It lasted two years, resulted in several hundred thousand
dollars’ worth of property damage and cost overruns for the developer,
and was attributed to what the newspapers had called, “A gang of up to
Surveyors had to resurvey countless times
because their markers kept disappearing. Supplies were stolen, lumber
piles caught fire, machinery failed to run. On a dark, moonless night, a
bulldozer magically drove itself off the very same cliff from which
Johnny had first viewed the carnage. The corpse of the Beast was
consumed by diesel-fueled flames, the candle of their offering, that
Their most audacious act had been to bring down an entire
two-story house in frame, by cutting the diagonals and corner posts,
and then with the help of a few extra kids, they pulled it over with a
rope. Crash! Roof on the ground, splintered framing scattered about,
kids running, laughing into the darkness.
It had also been their
last act, for after that, the subdivision was crawling with an army of
security guards around the clock.
In the end, almost two square miles
of diverse forest habitat had been replaced by some two thousand houses
of four different designs. Literally all the trees had been burnt, none
of it was even made into lumber. The net result of their jihad had been
to delay the inevitable by six months.
John turned his attention
to the south, where the land sloped down just before the gulch made its
southeast turn, and he could see the dust cloud hovering like smoke
along the border of his property.
“They’re gathering,” he
realized, and any time now, he expected the sheriff would be coming up
his hill. Knowing by the size of their force that they expected a
confrontation, he considered his chances in the odds set so strongly
“Must be about a hundred cops,” he guessed, if as
many vehicles came in on each of the other ways into the valley as did
on the High Road. No helicopters; no place to land them, except out
there on the freeway cut, but the SWAT team, complete with assault
weapons, infra-red detectors and remote flyers, were no doubt on the
All this, for an old man with a hundred and fifty year old antique
rifle! Well, that was some rifle, set up for target shooting at ranges
up to a thousand yards, with a heavy barrel, set triggers, and old-time
peep sights that gave him such accuracy that he could literally drive
nails with it at twenty-five yards, standing. His reputation was
well-known on the target range, and he was sure he’d shared the firing
line a time or two with some of those boys down there now. He supposed
they had given that some consideration in deciding to overarm the hell
out of themselves. He couldn’t help but find some grim satisfaction in
John wondered what else they might have. He didn’t
keep up on the technology, but he was sure they had some fancy new toys
in their arsenal. He knew all about the remote flyers from his work
with the University, when they had attempted to use them in wildlife
research; heat sensing micro-cameras built into computer controlled
bird-like robots. The research department had shitcanned that idea, for
the real wildlife could spot the fakes immediately, and were more timid
around their robotic brethren than they were in the presence of humans.
If he took to the hills, however, they might use them to track him. If
so, they’d be a nuisance, but at least they were easy to identify. Not
that he could spot them so quickly; they were good, after all, but the
real birds could, and they would tell him.
The “bugs” were even
easier to spot. Though small and nearly perfect replicas of dragonflies,
they had to get close to be effective, and there was a tell-tale
metallic sound to the buzz of their wings.
“They might even arm
them with lasers and such by now,” he considered. About five years ago,
there had been heated controversy over the questions of safety and
conscience in the proposed use of weaponry under the control of
artificial intelligence. That’s what these computerized remotes amounted
to, and public opinion weighed heavily against it. He was sure that the
government would find a way to sidestep that hurdle. After all, how
many times had personal freedom and the right to privacy lost out to
concerns of National security? The odds were they wouldn’t use them
unless they couldn’t get him any other way, because the little bastards
were god-awful expensive, and very fragile. He’d hate to have to waste
ammunition on them, too.
He had maybe a hundred rounds for the
Sharps, and about the same in balls, powder, and caps for the muzzle
loader. The comparison of weaponry was ludicrous, “That’s a hundred more
rounds than I need. I’m in great shape!” John laughed out loud, and
marveled that he could still find humor within this hopeless act.
No human alive knew the nooks and crannies of this convoluted landscape
better than he, and there were many places to hide amongst the rocks
and chaparral. He knew ways through that brush otherwise known only to
Obviously he couldn’t stay here. If he tried to defend
the cabin, he would be dead in minutes, the thin-walled dwelling
shredded by thousands of rounds of automatic gunfire. If he was going to
go, he’d better leave soon, because they’d be coming up Clear Creek
Road to ’scope him from above.
John’s gaze turned to the high point of the ridge on the opposite side
of the canyon, where the road cut through the western end of his land.
This promontory looked down on the cabin and provided a vantage point
over the surrounding area. Because of that view, he had set up his tipi
there when he first came to this place. Later, he built the cabin on the
other side of the canyon because it had a better southern exposure and
was closer to the creek; a better place for a garden, and just as fine a
view. Now, that point was his biggest strategical drawback.
should ditch out now.” Grab the Sharps and his day bag, which he always
kept ready for spur-of-the-moment wanderings, and drop into the dry
gulch next to the cabin. Up or down, John knew ways to go. Take the
muzzle loader and stash it where he could retrieve it if he used up the
Jerky, dried fruits and nuts were already in
the bag, along with binoculars and a canteen. He tucked five full boxes
of .45-70 ammo in the outer flap, and he was ready.
remained reluctant to commit to this Path, for there would be no turning
back. At best, he could hold out for a few weeks; a little guerilla
warfare would hold them at bay for a while. Eventually, he’d either have
to disappear altogether and abandon the valley to the Beast, or they’d
lose their patience, bring in the really big guns, and blow him off the
face of the Earth. He would be thought of by many as a crazy radical, a
martyr by some, and in the end, the Beast would have its way.
He remembered a time when the Beast did not have its way. A time when the Way of Peace won more than just the day.
Honokohau, on the North Kona coast on the island of Hawai’i, was the
first place John ever lived in a tipi. In the keawe forest between the
fish pond and the white sand beach, he and his girl friend found their
lodge to be a comfortable home, indeed.
His friend, Clarence,
was the caretaker of the property that encompassed the pond, the beach,
and an area known to be the site of an old Hawai’ian village, and he
lived in an open-sided, thatch-roofed beach house by the side of the
pond. A frequently changing population of a half-dozen or more hippies
and locals resided in Clarence’s laissez-faire mini commune, blessed in
this tropic paradise by sea, sun, and Kona Gold. Life was good. Then,
once more, the axe fell.
The Honokohau property was owned by the
Brownwells, the richest and most influential family in Kona. In the
tourist boom of the early seventies, the family decided the time was
right to develop the property, tame its rugged wildness and wrap a
resort around it.
I have been away for the day, surfing some
excellent six foot waves at Banyan’s, south of town. I arrive back at
Clarence’s, and as I enter his house, I see that he, ever fond of his
beer, is drunker than I’ve ever seen him. A cluster of solemn faces
surround him at the bar.
“Hey, How’sit, Brah. What’s happening?” I ask, as I pull up a stool and join the gang. “You okay, man?”
Clarence is wearing that smile that warns you everything he says will
be sarcastic. “Hell, yes, I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be okay? I’m
just damn dandy. Fine as frog’s hair! His grin fades into a grimace.
He hands me one of his perfectly
rolled joints, and says, “Take a hit first. You’re going to need
it. Then I’ll tell you.” I do as instructed, and Clarence begins.
“It’s over, John. The party’s over. They’re kicking our asses out, and
they’re gonna build a great big ass hotel here. Gimme that!”
“What? No way!”
I hand him the joint, and after inhaling nearly half of it in one giant
toke, he coughs out, “We’ve got a month. I think we oughta have the
biggest blowout party this island has ever seen. A month long party!”
Disregarding Clarence’s last words, I counter, “Hey, wait. They can’t
do that. This place is special. It’s habitat for endangered species.”
“Yeah, us!” Clarence interjects, and laughter once again gives momentary respite from the gloom.
I take another toke, and go on, “And there’s the history. The locals
say Kamehameha the First is buried out here somewhere. Isn’t that so,
Kimo?” I turn and pass him the roach.
“Dat’s right, Brah. Da
local people will nevah go fo’ dis one.” Kimo, the quintessential
Hawai’ian, big, strong and gentle, is a soft-spoken man of few words,
but when he speaks, you know it means something.
“I have family. Somebody will know what to do, eh? No huhu, we fix ’um.
I’ll go see my auntie tomorrow. I bet she’ll know somebody who can
Beneath the easygoing smile lives the heart of a warrior, and I know Kimo will make this his personal battle.
I grin, “I know some people through the newspaper, too. Let’s do it! We can save this place!”
And they did. Kimo’s auntie turned out to be the chairperson of the
Island Historical Preservation Society, and she helped put them in touch
with some sympathetic and influential people in the state government.
was photographer for the local underground newspaper, and through his
contacts, called on Friends of the Earth and the Audubon Society, to
verify his claim of the presence of endangered birdlife at the pond.
They came, there were, and a moratorium was declared.
hippies of Honokohau had to move, anyway, but the Feds subsequently
bought the land and created the Honokohau National Historical Preserve.
The peaceful process had succeeded that time.
This time, it had not.
The Path of Peace, they bulldoze today. The Warpath, they bulldoze in a couple weeks, maybe. Big deal.
Now he saw them. Dust up on the ridge, the reflection of sunlight off
of binoculars, or more likely, a rifle scope. He still could duck out
the door and head up the gulch. At two hundred yards, the Sharps could
pick off that son of a bitch with the scope, right now, too.
the growing heat of the day, the imminent finality of following that
Path chilled him to the very center of his being, and he shivered in the
sunlight. “Would it serve a purpose, would it do some kind, any kind of
good?” John asked himself, but got no answer.
“All my Relations.”
The tell-tale dust was rising just over the East ridge, where his
access connected with the Low Road. That would be the sheriff. Now or
“Hoka hey, it’s a good day to die.” He could go out in a
blaze of glory; typically dramatic to the very end, his wife would have
said, bless her spirit.
What would it accomplish? Nothing.
What could he do if he lived? Nothing for this place. Maybe something somewhere else, some other Honokohau.
Just then, John Lightning-Strikes heard the familiar song, and looked
up to see Eagle rising in the thermals, circling on outstretched wings.
“Come fly with me. Rise above!” Eagle beckoned.
This time, he said it out loud, spreading his arms, as if to fly, “All my Relations!”
Over in the corner on a little table, behind the Medicine Wheel
composed of rocks and feathers and special things, the Chanunpa, the
sacred Pipe of Peace sat in its honored place. John picked up the bundle
that held the Pipe and carefully unfolded the buckskin wrapping. From a
carved wooden box, he removed a beaded Eagle feather and hung it from
the long, slender stem. After removing the sage packing from the bowl,
he filled it with a mixture of tobacco, red willow, and kinnikinnik, and
joined stem and bowl together.
“All my Relations.”
would not kill today. He would smoke with them, maybe get them to join
him in a Prayer for this place. Maybe they’d even give him an extra day
to pack his stuff.
Once more, he strode out into the daylight, and holding the Pipe out before him, went to greet his enemy.
Through his ten-power rifle scope, the sharpshooter on the ridge saw
old Hamilton leave the shelter of his cabin. Heat waves rising from the
warming earth made ripples of distortion in his high-powered lens, but
he could make out some kind of weapon in the old crackpot’s hands.
“It’s a gun. Yes, he’s got a gun, and he’s pointing it at the sheriff’s
car!” he blurted through his headset to the Command Center.
In response to their question, he replied, “Yes, I’ve got a clear shot.”
The order came, “Take him out!”
He felt the impact before he heard the shot, but he never felt his body hit the ground.
As the soul once known as Lightning-Strikes-Around-Him rose above the
canyon, over the valley, high above Craggy Mountain, he finally
understood what the Grandfathers meant when they said, “Nothing lasts
forever, only the Earth and Sky remain.” His spirit serene, he drifted
with the smoke of the Pipe that he somehow felt he still held in his
The sheriff’s team gathered around the body
that lay in the yard in front of the little cabin. Via headset, the
sheriff spoke to the man on the ridge, “I thought you said he was armed.
There’s no weapon, nothing at all. His hands are empty.”
young sharpshooter blanched, turning cold in the warm summer air. “He
held a gun, or… something. He had it pointed in your direction. I know
he did!” he almost cried.
“Well, there’s nothing here now,” the
sheriff growled. He shuddered inwardly at the unspoken thought, “What a
mess the media will make of this!” Then, out loud, “Jesus Christ, what a
He barked out orders to his sergeant, “All right, Hendricks, get your
men to search the area for, what, something? Get the coroner up here
ASAP, and don’t screw up the scene.” The sheriff shook his head, and as
he turned away, muttered to no one in particular, “It’s not like he was
some psycho who deserved it. Plenty out there who do.” After a moment,
he added, “He was probably right. Ah, hell, I liked the man!” The End
To the South, the bulldozers were already at work. The Beast had awakened, and was hungry.
Earth spins as it revolves around the Sun, and the Circle of Time
inexorably passes. What in human reckoning amounts to a millennium is
less than a blink in the geological eye of time. The Earth changes
slowly, while the workings of humankind grow, then wither like last
summer’s flowers in autumn.
A young man stands on the edge
of a canyon overlooking a beautiful valley. He has come here after
wandering, searching for many turns of the season, and somehow, this
feels like the place. Like home.
As the first rays of the
morning sun break the line of the eastern ridge, he offers his Pipe in
Prayer, a puff of smoke to each of the Four Directions, to Mother Earth
and Father Sky, to the Great Mystery from which all came to be.
In the gulch below, a covey of quail pick their way between broken
shards of moss-covered concrete that lie half-buried among the big
cedars that grow down to the edge of the tiny creek. Also unheeding of
his presence, a doe and her fawn greet a fat old porcupine as he ambles
down to share the waters with his friends.
Watching, the young man smiles, then whispers, “All my Relations.”