Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chapter Seventeen: "Be Here Now"

California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska…
The peace march crossed the Missouri River into Iowa at Council Bluffs.  The afternoon was sweltering.  We converged in a city park for an Independence Day celebration.  I was hot and tired and sticky and not the least bit interested in the festivities.  I got my guitar from the gear truck and found a place to sit in the park on a hill—a hill?!  A hill!  I loved Iowa already.  Other marchers had the same idea, and lots of local Iowans had come picnicking, too, peppering the park and hillside.  Evan and I sang “Lucille” for Eliot, a marcher from California.   Eliot had just finished a last swig of orange juice, and I asked if he would give me the empty plastic container for a water bottle as mine was completely worn out.  The possibility of wearing out a water bottle had never occurred to me, but the cap had gotten warped and loose and leaky.  With every step I took, the bottle hanging from my belt slapped against my leg and a little water dribbled out so that the right leg of my shorts was constantly wet.  Over twenty miles, it was annoying and uncomfortable.  Eliot said sure, so I rinsed out the new container, filled it with cool water, slipped a shoelace through the handle and tied it to my belt.  It was like a hobo Christmas: a simple gift and many thanks.

Crossing into Iowa
After setting up our tents in camp, Evan, Tom and I returned across the river to Nebraska, a short walk away.  We wandered the sidewalks in search of air conditioning and a cold beer and happened upon a neighborhood spot called “Poopsie’s.”  Tom loved the name of the place so much he must have said it five times before we reached the door. “Poopsie’s!  Poopsie’s!”  We crossed the street.  “Poopsie’s!  Poopsie’s!”  We reached the sidewalk.  Poopsie’s!”  We opened the door to step inside.  The other peace marchers hadn’t found the place yet, so we settled in for a chat with the locals.  Our visits to the neighborhood pubs were useful to our mission.  It wasn’t every day you walked into your neighborhood bar and found your drinking pals getting acquainted with a group of strangers who were walking across the country for global nuclear disarmament.  Aside from the fact that we rarely paid for our own drinks, the return on “Marcher-in-the-Bar” was the pleasure of exchanging ideas and opinions and stories and laughs with thousands of people across the country, and that was what the peace march was all about. 
At Poopsie’s, we met a local woman who invited us on a guided tour of Omaha.  Her name was Jane, but she said that everyone called her “Plain Jane,” so we should, too.  Tom needed to get back to camp, and after he departed “Plain Jane” loaded Evan and me into the front seat of her car.  It was a LeSabre or an Impala or a Delta 88—one of those big boats that sat three across the front bench.  I couldn’t help but notice that what looked like an entire wardrobe’s worth of clothing filled the back seat.  I wondered if maybe Plain Jane was living out of her car.  She gave us a first rate tour of downtown Omaha.  We rode through the old warehouse district with its beautiful red brick buildings, we passed the stately, old train station and we stopped briefly in front of the classic show house that Plain Jane said was once the Vaudeville theatre.  The city had recently created a registry of historic buildings to protect them from demolition.  Plain Jane told us stories about the early days of the meat packing industry and a huge tornado that had devastated the city early in the century.  I was transformed.  I had foolishly pegged Omaha for a dull town of cowboys and meat packers.  Instead, here were lively theatres and beautiful architecture and, if Plain Jane was a fair example, outgoing, intelligent, articulate residents. 
Along the way, we also dropped in on a couple of Plain Jane’s favorite pubs where Evan and I drank lightly but joined in meeting some of her friends.  Plane Jane was informed, animated and witty, but she was down on herself, saying that she was “burned out” at age forty-four.  Naturally, Evan and I protested.  I wanted so much to boost her self-image, not out of pity but because she really was something special.  I asked her what her dream was, and she said she had two: to ride a bicycle from the northernmost part of Scotland to the southern coast of England, and to become a history teacher.  Evan and I both insisted that her “dreams” were well within reach, especially at such a young age.  We pointed out that people thought nuclear disarmament was a pipe dream, a hopeless cause, but that we were determined to make it a reality.  It broke my heart to think that Plain Jane had already given up on two perfectly attainable goals.  It also made me wonder if her tendency toward heavy drinking was the chicken or the egg. 
Plain Jane wanted us to join her at her favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.  She wanted us to be her guests.  I tried hard to beg off the invitation because I wasn’t sure of her financial situation, but she insisted, so in the end we accepted her offer.  What a night.  The restaurant was actually a huge dining club that specialized in every variety and cut of Omaha beef—and liquor.  Other than licensed dining clubs like this one, Plain Jane explained, Omaha was dry territory for spirits.  Every table was full.  The dining room was alive with the merry sounds of clinking glasses and cordial conversation.  I hadn’t eaten beef in at least four months, and on the Great Peace March I had moved into a vegetarian state of mind, so I felt hypocritical commenting on the deliciousness of the filet mignon while actually making a meal of the side dishes, but otherwise we had a great time sitting around the table talking freely with our hostess and her friends and enjoying the jovial ambience.  In parting, we made a deal with Plain Jane that if we succeeded on our cross-country trek, she would somehow find a way to get to Scotland for that bicycle trip.  Our meeting with Plain Jane sank in deep with me.   Whether she had been able to take a dram of encouragement from Evan and me, I didn’t know, but she had taught me a poignant lesson about abandoning dreams, and she had given me one more reason to make it to Washington. 

After Nebraska, Iowa Seemed Downright Hilly
We had two rest days in Council Bluffs, a luxurious vacation after three weeks and four hundred miles across Nebraska.  Iris and Joel and the other cooks prepared a sumptuous brunch and served it al fresco on long buffet tables.  It would have been impressive enough if the Great Peace March kitchen had prepared three meals a day for five hundred people, but they also provided every meal in three categories: meat, non-meat, and non-dairy.  At mealtime, we joined one of three lines according to our dietary wishes.  I usually went in for the non-meat menu.  The food was amazing.  Like most families in America, we enjoyed casseroles, spaghetti, soups, burritos, lasagna, burgers, stir-fried vegetables, fresh salads and desserts.  I grew accustomed to new foods, too: bulgur wheat salad, tempeh, and, especially, tofu.  Other than a few cubes floating in miso soup, I had never really eaten tofu until our cooks proved its delicious potential.  My favorite tofu dish was a sauté of onion, garlic, vegetables and soy sauce served over brown rice, but I also enjoyed it mixed into pasta sauce and scrambled with vegetables and herbs.  At the time, tofu was not widely known or appreciated outside Asian and “alternative lifestyle” circles, and many of us became converts thanks to the skill of our kitchen crew.

Inviting Local Folks to Dinner
The peace march cooks weren’t entirely invincible.  Twice, when someone left the pasta unattended and it burned in the bottom of the huge pot, they had to chuck the whole lot.  There were foods we grew tired of—jicama, blood oranges, cabbage, peanut butter—but that wasn’t the fault of the cooks.  Their only really disastrous offering was the trail mix that they occasionally gave us “for the road.”  It included raw oatmeal which, unfortunately, produced such universal flatulence that we ended up walking as far from one another as possible.  On trail mix days we probably had the longest, thinnest peace march in America.  On the whole, though, the quality was five star.   For me, every meal on the Great Peace March was a celebration, and not only because I didn’t have to prepare it.  Most marchers seemed to agree.  I rarely heard anyone complain about the food.  In fact, every now and then someone would stand up and shout, “Three cheers for the cooks!” and we’d all “hooray” so they could hear us all the way back in the kitchen. 
I had been feeling a bit blue for a couple of days.  Emotional funks got me down from time to time, and I never knew why or when they would come or go.  I’d trudge through thinking it was “just one of those days.”  My brother, Louis, who also endured bouts of melancholia, had assured me once that it was “only passing clouds.”  The fact that I had recently completed three of the most physically demanding weeks of my life and might simply be feeling stunned from walking halfway across the continent never occurred to me. 
The next day was heavily overcast.  Strong winds blew steadily from the west.  We were all going about our business as usual until a strong gust suddenly carried one of the dome tents spinning into the air.  Everyone stopped and watched helplessly as it soared up into the sky.  It looked just like Dorothy Gale’s house sucked up by the twister in The Wizard of Oz.  Someone standing near me wondered aloud if there might have been anyone inside, and for a second I thought he was serious, but he was just kidding.  It landed a few hundred yards away.
          A few minutes later the dark clouds took on a strange, bruised green hue.  I knew that a green sky could only mean one thing.  Sure enough, a minute later someone announced through a bullhorn that we were under a tornado alert.  My heart raced as I looked around for cover, but the campsite was unyieldingly flat, leaving us completely exposed.  The best we could do was huddle like sitting ducks along a low berm and hope that Mother Nature would let the danger pass, and she did, finally, without incident.  
We left Council Bluffs on July 7th, a workday for me.  I loaded trucks and then took the Workers’ Shuttle to the next campsite.   Our site was a gently rolling field of waist-high grass up a country road off the main highway.  I was feeling restless, so I took a jog up the road and then returned to help Campscape—today it was Bill, Tom and Shamak—put up the big town hall tent.  By that time, the trucks had pulled in, so I joined Evan and the crew to unloaded the gear.  When the marchers arrived, they had to wade out into the sea of tall grass to put up their tents.

Campscape Crew: Brawn and Brains
For dinner we had steaming, fresh corn-on-the-cob—perfectly ripe, sweet, and delicious—donated by local farmers.  I innocently asked a local woman if the corn we were eating was the same corn we had seen growing in the fields.  “Heavens no!” she scolded, “Our eating corn comes from Texas.  Iowa corn is feed corn!”
Her husband, the lighter side of the partnership, asked, with a twinkle in his eye, “Have you tried eating the corn around here?”
I laughed uncertainly.  “No,” I replied.  Clearly, I was out of my depths with these heartland folks.
“You ought to try it,” he said.  “But I’ll warn you, it doesn’t taste very good!” 
I thought it best to end on a positive note, so I thanked them for feeding us and sought a place to sit with my dinner.  I didn’t think it would be polite to mention that it seemed a little wasteful to be surrounded by thousands of acres of corn but eating corn that had been trucked all the way from Texas.  I did notice that the marchers held back on a second ear until everyone had had firsts. 
Ram Dass came to camp to talk with us in the evening.  Ram Dass was a psychologist who became known for his experimentation with LSD back in the 1960’s and early 70’s.  Since then, he had turned to a spiritual path.  Through his books and talks he promoted a lifestyle enriched by reflection and meditation.  I was familiar with Ram Dass and had heard him speak before.  A self-deprecating sense of humor pervaded his teaching.  His coined probably the most famous mantra in the Western world: “Be here now.”  In camp, he sat cross-legged in front of the porta-potties on a small dias.  Lynnie, our youngest marcher, played with a kitten on the ground in front of him, and for a while the microphone kept whacking him in the mouth as people arrived and tripped over the cord.  Finally everyone settled down to listen.  The sun going down behind him cast a gorgeous light through the summer air busy with insects and made everything look like a colorful pointillist painting. 
Ram Dass told stories about his adventures in meditation, some serious, some humorous.  He also spoke directly about our trek.  What surprised me was that he talked about the importance of our march not so much for the changes it would bring but for its own sake and ours.  This was a new idea for me, and at first I didn’t like it.  Was Ram Dass saying that the march had its own purpose apart from striving to bring about nuclear disarmament?  Was he saying that the march had its own purpose in the present?  Yes.  That was it.  To me, it seemed selfish that we should focus on the march for the sake of the marchers, but in his view, there was really nothing more practical or true or “real” than that.  As much as we dreamed of reversing the nuclear arms race, we actually had no idea what our impact might or might not be.  On the other hand, Ram Dass was suggesting, we did know who we were in the present moment.  We were marchers on the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, right here, right now.  There was no more—and no less—to it than that.

Ram Dass
The entire peace camp sat together in quiet meditation, free from walking, working, or worry; free from the future and the past; free from criticism, praise or doubt.  I felt calmed by Ram Dass’s words, by our contemplative state, and by Iowa’s soft, swirled hills at twilight.  When Ram Dass finished, marchers mingled for a while and then slowly dispersed.  We went to hunt for our tents in the high grass and lost sight of each other as we ducked inside for the night.
The next day was an easy fourteen miler to Oakland.  Evan, Tom, MC and I ate breakfast in camp and hit the road.  Everyone seemed emotionally fortified after our evening with Ram Dass.  His words of wisdom had raised my mood and persuaded me to stop fretting—at least until the next waxing moon pulled my psyche out of orbit again—about what more I should be doing, what our impact had been and was going to be, what other people thought of me, and whether it was all worth the effort.  Actually, I didn’t mind the effort.  With Nebraska behind me, and Iowa’s peacefully undulating hills ahead, I had rediscovered the joy of walking for its own sake.

Shady Lunch Break Somewhere in Iowa
In Iowa, they say, you can hear the corn grow.  I asked Iris, and she said it was true.  One day she led Evan. Tom and me off the road and into a cornfield.  We followed her about thirty yards into the field, ducking the tall corn plants that towered over our heads and splashed their broad leaves against us on either side.  She found a good spot, and we lay on our backs between the cornrows in the warm, green light.  Tom could barely contain himself.  For him, just lying down in a cornfield was a thrill.
Tom: “Isn’t this exciting?”
Me: “Shhh.”
Tom, wriggling: “I’ve never been in a corn field before!”
Iris: “Ok, we’ll have to be quiet now.”
Tom, whispering loudly: “I wonder what it sounds like!”
All of us, in a loud chorus:  “Shhhh!”
Tom: “Hey, you guys, stop makin’ so much noise!  I’m tryin’ to hear the corn grow!”
We quieted down and everyone gazed silently up at the slivers of blue sky visible beyond the still, green stalks.  No clouds, no wind.  I could hear myself breathing.  After another minute, I started to notice a sound I couldn’t identify: a soft, swishing sound, like when you rub your palms together or hold a conch shell up to your ear.  Then, in another moment, it came to me—it was the broad, flat leaves of a thousand corn plants sliding against each other as they grew.  We all giggled in amazement then listened again.  Yes, in Iowa you really can hear the corn grow. 
On our way out of the field, I asked Iris if she thought it would be okay to take an ear of corn to taste.  She replied as though she owned every corn farm in the state, “You can eat some if you want, but you might not like it.”
“I know, but I want to try it,” I said.
She broke off an ear of corn and pulled back the husk.  I took it from her and bit off a few kernels.  It tasted disgusting—warm, mealy and bland.  I grimaced and spat it out.  Iris just shook her head and laughed.  “The hogs love it,” she said.  And I took that as a compliment.
My sister Cassie sent me an awesome care package—a summer fun box containing lots of great stuff to play with and two new cassettes: Talking Heads and REM.  I sat on a picnic table under a shade tree in camp and examined each item.  Included was a bottle of bubbles, so I opened it and took out the wand and started blowing them.  In no more than a minute, a swarm of little marchers appeared and started chasing the bubbles as they floated on the air.  The bubbles transported the children to another world.  They danced with the bubbles, then sparred with them,  peered through them, blew them afloat above their heads and tried capturing them whole on their hands or noses.  The kids took turns with the little wand and blew bubbles until the liquid was all gone, then they wandered off, a band of tiny gypsies in search of other diversions.  
The next morning, July 9th, I decided to begin a one-day fast after breakfast.  For most of my life, whenever I wasn’t completely engaged in some activity, I thought about food.  I rarely skipped a meal and frequently added one in-between.  I had a sweet tooth the size of Gibraltar.  A box of cookies, a bar of chocolate, a pint of ice cream -- I couldn't rest until it was all gone.  Fortunately, my mother had taught me to stay busy—or outdoors; and, fortunately, I loved sports and physical activity, so could eat like a carp and still remain fairly fit.  I had only fasted once before, and I had fantasized about food the whole time.  I thought another shot at it would be good for me.  I decided that a Wednesday workday would be easier than trying to fast on a day of walking.  Breakfast being my favorite meal, I figured I’d have a better chance at success if I started my fast after breakfast.  I could more easily avoid lunch and dinner, and I could sleep through the last seven or eight hours, which would be the most difficult.  After twenty-four hours I would actually “break” my “fast,” a little word play that added a literary twist to my endeavor.  I hadn’t even begun to fast and I was already looking for ways to make it easier.  I ate a bowl of granola with milk and fresh blueberries under a picnic shelter at Oakland Park.  That was easy.   Each spoonful tasted even better than usual as it would be my last food for a whole day.
After breakfast, I loaded the trucks, eschewing the candy that someone had brought for the loaders, and boarded the Workers’ Shuttle.  As I walked up the aisle of the bus, I noticed a marcher I had recently met.  I had talked with him once before, and he was friendly and funny, so I approached him to ask if I could take the empty seat next to his.  He was Korean-American.  As I sat down next to him, I stupidly called him by the name of a Japanese marcher whom I had also recently met.  He looked at me with a puzzled expression, and it took a minute for me to figure out that something was wrong.  When he told me my mistake, I shrank with embarrassment.  His disappointed expression and flat tone told me it wasn’t the first time he’d heard that kind of mistake.  “Oh, don’t worry about it.” he said sarcastically. “We all look alike.”  I didn’t know how to react.  I apologized, of course, but beyond that, I felt like such an idiot that I really didn’t know how to continue.  In fact, I had met him and the Japanese man within a day or two of one another, and I hadn’t mixed them up, I had only mixed up their names, but there was no convincing him of that; I could only apologize for my mistake.  An awkward conversation ensued on the way to camp.  Mostly we were silent.  I had no idea how to earn forgiveness for a racial transgression.  He hardened to me the next time I saw him on the shuttle.  I didn’t sense a second chance coming on, so I smiled feebly as I passed down the aisle and sat in another seat, acquiescing in his right to push me away.   
Cold Springs State Park near Lewis was a cool, shady site that reminded me of the wooded eastern piedmont in Maryland where I had camped as a young Girl Scout.  The tenting area was up a narrow drive to a shady hilltop.  After weeks on the griddle in Nebraska, the novel act of walking up a hill in the shade was inspiration enough for me.  But there was more.  Everything smelled of loam and ferny fiddleheads and grass freshly mown right to the edge of the woods.  Felled or fallen trees were left as benches, nature’s invitation to sit and do nothing, and the screened-in meeting hall was worn to a rustic practicality that made me feel right at home.   
All of my friends were away or busy.  Iris had left for Des Moines to prepare her hometown for our arrival.  Sheila was off to Boulder to visit friends.  Evan and Tom were nowhere to be seen.  I was failing to forget about food.  You could have stuffed yourself on the smorgasbord in my mind.  To pass the time, I went into the meeting hall where the women’s choir, “Wild Wimmin for Peace,” were busy rehearsing.  I stepped inside and listened for a few minutes.  They were having trouble with one song and asked if I would direct them.  I was surprised and wondered why they assumed I had any experience with musical conducting.  I stepped up, hoping that years of choir rehearsals had impressed me with a few conductor moves, and gave it my best shot.  The women sang beautiful harmonies, precisely tuned and evenly balanced, they just needed someone to bring them in at the right times, and I could do that, so I did.

Wild Wimmin for Peace
 At dinnertime I avoided the food line by retreating into my tent for an hour of meditation.  I had discovered some months earlier that when I chanted “Om,” I could sing the vocal tone plus a faint octave overtone, like those Tibetan monks who drone in meditation, so I chanted for a while, bathed in vibration.   I had also learned about aligning the chakras, the energy centers of the body, beginning with red at the base of the torso, then orange at the navel, yellow at the solar plexus, green at the heart, sky blue at the throat, indigo blue at the third eye in the center of the forehead, and violet at the top of the head.  It was like a rainbow going right up your spine.  I took a few deep breaths, focusing on each chakra.  The meditation was relaxing and, according to eastern and alternative western medicine, beneficial.  Usually I struggled with a mind full of scattered thoughts when I sat down to meditate, but the fasting focused my mind.  Only hunger competed for my attention.  For the hour I kept it at bay, I was in bliss.
With dinner over and the kitchen safely off limits, I joined a small group gathered at the Peace Academy bus.  They had hooked a TV and VCR player up to a camp generator so we could watch Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick’s classic film about the nuclear arms race.  Evan and Tom came by and we all settled in to watch.  Tom left after a few minutes, but Evan and I stayed for the whole show: George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson; Peter Sellers’ brilliant portrayal of three different characters; Slim Pickins piloting the nuclear bomber.  Kubrick’s genius made the brink of nuclear annihilation poignantly funny and the idea of a nuclear arms race utterly ridiculous.  If you didn’t know that the nuclear bomb really existed, you’d have thought he’d made the whole thing up. 
Meanwhile, a large gathering of marchers and Iowans met down the hill on the grassy lawn to exchange information about the events and support we could expect on our walk across the state.  I could hear laughter wafting up the hill.  It seemed “Iowans for Peace” were as enthusiastic as we were to be in Iowa.  After the film I retired to my tent and let the crickets and my growling stomach sing me to sleep.  I dreamed of food all night long, but my fast had been a success. 
July 10th was a twenty-four mile walk from Cold Springs State Park to Lake Anita.  Twenty-four miles was a stretch on any day, and we were doing close to that almost every day.  Even though I had grown accustomed to the long distances, I could tell when we added a few more miles to the usual eighteen or twenty.  At Lake Anita, everyone knew we had pulled an extra long day.  Marchers in camp clapped and cheered their woop-dee-doo when we arrived.  One group of marchers came striding into camp and walked straight down the boat ramp and into the water, clothing, shoes, hats, sunglasses and all.  We set up our tents on the rolling, green hills that surrounded the lake.  After dinner, I put on my bathing suit and swam under the pastel pink clouds just after sunset.  The water was warm from the long summer day but refreshing nonetheless.  I went into the bathhouse, dried off, put on baggy cotton pajama pants and a top and walked back to my tent, tired but content. 
The sky was starry at bedtime, so I merely draped the rain fly across the top of the tent.  I secured the sides but didn’t bother to stake down the front.  By the time the thunder woke me, the wind had already picked up and big drops of rain were spattering against the tent.  The storm approached fast as I scrambled to attach the fly.  Tom came to my rescue.  I held down the fly from the inside and counted silently to myself between the lightning flashes and echoing thunder as he quickly put in the two stakes and the support pole.  The wind made the tent sway and shudder as the rain smacked hard against the nylon, threatening to soak through.  For a few eternal minutes, lightning flashed madly all around.  I laughed nervously, telling myself over and over that everything was fine, but I wasn’t sure what the next moment would bring.  I worried about our hundreds of tents pitched all over the hills around the lake.  When the storm finally passed, I listened for a moment to hear if anyone was in trouble.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Impossible as it seemed, we were unharmed.  Maybe there really was something to Alfred’s mantle of grace.  The next morning we sat at a picnic table under a pavilion near the lake and compared notes on the storm.  Evan admitted to having narrated every moment just to keep calm. 
The park was spacious, it was a rest day, and Tom and I went for a run for a mile or so in the afternoon.  I was still working to keep our relationship at bay.  The pastoral settings and the idealistic community were not making the task any easier.  Life on the peace march otherwise seemed so perfect that it was hard not to see everything through rose-colored glasses.  I felt myself constantly pushing back in order to preserve the space I needed to fully experience what was happening around me.  As we jogged along the ridge, I realized that walking twenty miles a day had not conditioned my lungs for running, and I was exhausted.  It didn’t occur to me that maybe I was just plain bushed.  Tom ran much faster than I did, and I got annoyed when he kept pulling ahead and then slowing down to wait for me or turning around and running backwards or  looping back to join me again.  I wanted to run alone, even at my own pathetic pace. 
In preparation for our evening performance, Wild Wimmin met to practice in the bathhouse by the lake.  There was no roof, and the sun streamed in and warmed the spacious, enclosed changing area.  Everyone was clean and rested and refreshed.  Several of the Wild Wimmin lounged in the buff on the benches as we rehearsed the songs and worked out final harmonies.  I had never conducted a choir of naked women, but by this time there wasn’t much that could faze me.  I opted to wear clothes and, at their invitation, joined in the singing.  My favorite was “Lifeline,” a powerful gospel song about Harriet Tubman, who guided runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad.  The melody matched the lyrics, “Come on up, I’ve got a lifeline; come on up to this train of mine,” the blue note harmonies crossing over and intertwining like a weaver twisting soft, green reeds into a simple basket of sound, except that when the singers are done weaving their song, it disappears forever. 
At show time, the audience of marchers gathered casually on the grassy hillside.  First up were a group of thespian marchers who many weeks earlier had discovered their mutual love of Shakespeare.  Out on the road, they sometimes they read passages aloud as they walked along together.  At Lake Anita, they performed a Shakespearean spoof on our sad sack days at Stoddard Wells.  Wild Wimmin sang, and Pete Seeger, who had somehow found us along the road again, performed, his powerful life force reverberating boldly in his music.  It was exciting to sing along on “If I Had A Hammer,” one of the first folk songs I had ever learned, with the man who wrote it.   The whole camp sang, “I’d sing out danger, I’d sing out a warnin’, I’d sing out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land.”  Pete Seeger’s performance also reinforced the Great Peace March as part of a long, rich tradition of peace activism.  A beautiful sunset on Lake Anita drew the curtain down on our performance and the evening to a close.

Pete Seeger at Lake Anita
Journal Entry – July 11, 1986
After the show, Evan and I walk to the top of the ridge and are awed by the brilliant night sky.  Every star in the universe must be visible tonight.  We are alive on this small planet.  Can it be so hard to survive?  Evan says, “If we have Star Wars, satellites will fly in formation across the sky at night.”  We are so young yet feel so old in the face of our extinction.  This wonderful day reminds me of what we are living for, what we are marching for. 

Last night I had a “Come Spinning Down” dream.  In it my sister, Cassie, told me that she was leaving a little girl in my care.  Somehow the transfer of responsibility had to do with Cassie, the youngest in our family, and, perhaps, the “baby” in my mind, and Mom and Dad as caretakers—the roll I would now play.  The child, dark-haired and smiling and just a little chubby, loved some particular song with the word “moo” or “rose” in the title.  She also had some kind of soaking bath that I had to prepare for her—the womb?  I was also aware that she was, on some level, entirely capable of caring for herself.  The problem was that I kept losing track of her.  The message was clear.  There were too many distractions in my life—the march, my wanderlust, my inclination toward solitude—that made it impossible to care for a child.