How I Became a Kule Loklo Volunteer

At a time when life was a treadmill, some Sundays I’d head for one or another wilderness not far from the City.  Hike a little, enjoy the landscapes, let Earth’s slow rhythms and peace fill me.  Gradually Kule Loklo became my destination.

There’s a cluster of trees between the former Roundhouse and the Native Plant Garden where spreading roots and soft earth are perfect for sitting and gazing out over the landscape.  The Roundhouse, kotcas, granaries, Dance Circle, Sweat Lodge, and wooded hills of Marin filled my view.  It became my spot.  I’d sit comfortably reading, writing, correcting papers, and thinking while tension and worry melted.  All the best of a past week replayed in my mind.

One afternoon Rod Torres, a Park Ranger, walked by as he checked Kule Loklo.  He always stopped to chat briefly.  One day he said, “I see you here frequently.  Did you know you could volunteer here at Kule Loklo?”

I stared at him in wide-eyed surprise.  “No, I thought someone would have to be part of the Park Service, or Native American, or be involved in history or ecology to help here.”

He said, “People come one Saturday a month to repair or rebuild structures, take care of the Native Plant Garden, and do general maintenance.

He told me where to sign up, said good-bye, and went about his rounds.

Going over this marvelous news in my mind, it took all of two minutes to make a choice.  One Saturday a month–I can do that.  Repair and rebuild structures–I can learn how to do that.  Weed the garden–can do.

So I gathered my things, ambled down the path to the parking lot, stowed my belongings, then went to the Park Office to sign up as a Kule Loklo Volunteer.

That was about ten years ago.

Permanently in my memory is the morning I arrived at Kule Loklo quite early.  No one else was there.

I parked, got out of the car, and halted near the wooden fence between the dirt road and the Dance Circle.  Turning my ears up to full volume I heard various birds, the wind gently rustling leaves and branches, instinct buzzing—all quite muted.

As I was about to walk around the fence to walk to the middle of Kule Loklo, I froze and a slow smile grew.  What I heard sounded like children playing–a very familiar sound to an Elementary Teacher.  I waited a while, but no children came into view even after I’d reached the center of Kule Loklo.

I finally concluded it was the squeak and squeal of tree limbs bending and pushing past each other as the wind grew stronger.

Yet…it felt more as if I’d somehow stepped into the past when Native People were arriving in the area for their seasonal stay.  Children were running around looking for favorite places and things, while the adults were still a little way off hauling their belongings.

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