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Subject: The Cold Easy Gathering - California 2004
From: (Butterfly Bill)
Date: 2 Aug 2004 08:47:48 -0700
Newsgroups: alt.gathering.rainbow

(This is the report of my own experiences at the most recent national gathering that I post every year on alt.gathering.rainbow. But I also intend to post this to my Live Journal blog, where it will be read by people, especially my Renaissance faire friends, who have not been to a Rainbow Gathering and are not familiar with some things that readers of a.g.r. already know well. So for their sake I will explain some things in more detail than I would have otherwise.)

I give each gathering a name for my own memories that describes in a few words how it was for me, and The Cold Easy Gathering is what I now call the 2004 national Rainbow Gathering, in the Modoc National Forest in the far northeast corner of California.

It was cold. Temperature-wise, it was not quite as severe as the Ď95 in New Mexico or the Ď03 in Utah, which were at altitudes of over 9000 feet, where the temperature at sunrise in July was sometimes below freezing. This site was at 7400 feet, and here it usually got down only as far as the high 30s or low 40s by dawn. But this site was on the edge of a wide valley where the wind blew constantly, and the daytime temperature seldom got much above 60. But the sun shone bright thru the rarefied air, and most of the days had only fair-weather cumulus clouds to occasionally hide it. The result was wind chill strong enough to be uncomfortable unless covered by at least two layers of clothing if you were in the trees and shade, but sometimes warmth enough for nudity in the middle of the open meadows. The place was mishmash of microclimates. You could go from summer to fall just by rounding a corner from the lee side of a hill into the wind. I would leave for Dinner Circle about an hour before sunset in a cotton tanktop dress, with my backpack containing a jacket, underskirt, hat, and shawl, because I would be craving them all as soon as the sun went down behind the mountain.

But most of the time it was just cold and windy. Out of 17 days there, only five were sunny enough for nudity to be comfortable for me, and I saw few other people nude. (There was another reason for this that I will get into later.) I had an old quilted knee length womanís greatcoat that I used nightly, and there were times I had it on at high noon. If I were planning to be away from my tent for any great time I had to carry my closet around with me on my back along with the usual dining room at my side. I always had to be prepared for sudden cold.

But outside of this it was easy. The walk in from the lower parking lot was mostly level with only a few low rolling hills, and was only a mile and three quarters long, making possible commuting nightly from the populated part of the gathering to my van parked far away from the drum circles. (This was one of the most handicapped-accessible sites I have been on.) A quarter of the way in, Bread of Life kitchen reliably had coffee and oatmeal in the morning and I didnít have to go on a breakfast search. Info was downtown and most of the interesting events were a short walk away. One of my best friends in the RFOLL (Rainbow Family of Living Light) set his teepee next door, and it was just a few steps to good music and a kaleidoscopic people show. And for the first half there were two good kitchens nearby. (More on this later too.). There was little of the need that I have encountered at other gatherings to walk and climb great distances just to tend to my daily affairs. Things got strenuous only if I chose so.

I approached the gathering in the evening of June 20th, starting that morning from San Jose. I went up thru Marysville and crossed the High Sierras thru the Feather River canyon, with its steep mountainsides covered with tall trees. As I descended into Susanville, the forest gave way to the sagebrush covered desert that goes on to cover northern Nevada. This terrain continued most of the way up US 395 to Likely, where I turned onto County Road 64 to go to the gathering site. The road entered mountains and the tall trees returned, mostly lodgepole pines with a few scattered redwoods. But there were still valleys and other spots where the wormwood and sage prevailed.

The pavement ended and gravel began about halfway to the site. As I made the final approach to Front Gate I came out of the woods and descended into a broad shallow valley of sagebrush about a half mile wide with more forest at the other edge. It continued to the left, to the north, for about two miles, making a wide curve to the northeast before ending against more mountain slopes.

The gate, really only a spot beside the road where incoming cars are greeted, was just before where the road reentered the woods. Kalif was working it, and he said, "Welcome home brother", to me thru my lowered car window. I asked him where Bus village was. (This is a place where people who come in motorhomes, converted schoolbuses, and other "live-in vehicles" congregate.) He seemed a little flustered as he said, "Well, some people been telling me itís up the road a ways, other people been telling me thereís another down here, I donít know. You can go to both and decide for yourself what you want."

I chose the road that turned to the left just beyond where we were talking, and left the gravel to make my way slowly over hard packed dirt eroded in places with a few deep ruts, and lots of boulder tops poking up thru. It ran along the edge of the tree line, separating into two and then rejoining in spots. There were cars and buses scattered among the trees, and more parked in rows perpendicular to the road out in the sun on the valley side. I found a spot that looked like it would be shaded thruout the day, rested for a while on my bed in the back of my van, but was suddenly jolted by the sound of a very tinny car stereo announcing, "And hereís for you, rock and rollers". I moved my van back toward the gate to a place where I couldnít hear it any more, again near some more trees that I hoped would shade it. The next afternoon I would have to move a little bit two more times until I got it right.

I went to sleep and got up the next morning to explore the site. The parking lot was about a quarter mile long, and I was parked near the far end. I went past Welcome Home, a camp with a fire and a coffeepot where there were people waiting to come out to the road and greet those arriving on foot. Across the road there was a high rope tied between two trees, from which were hanging a gay pride style rainbow flag and a world flag, a photo of the earth from space on a navy blue background.

After the flags the dirt road went thru the woods and then came out into the open to cross a small stream. There was a bundle of logs and branches laid across it, but the stream was narrow and shallow enough to step across, and the makeshift bridge was tricky to walk on. The road went again on a serpentine path thru the woods until coming to a natural gate of large upright grey volcanic rocks something-teen feet tall. On the other side of this portal the road left the woods and continued out in the sun along the side of the valley, with a hillside of sage to the right that was to remain uninhabited thru the rest of the gathering. It curved around this hillside until it went into the woods again, but then still stayed near the valley.

At this point I first started seeing signs of gathering activity. There were a few kitchen structures being built out of plastic tarps and whittled down poles made from the dead trees and branches that lay everywhere about the forest floor. Dome tents were scattered about. The road continued until an intersection at another edge of the woods. To the left it went over to meet a straight fenceline out in the sagebrush, to the right it started going uphill back into the woods. In the valley were two large circular meadows of mostly grass, and the first few days I wondered of one of them was going to be the main meadow.

But it turned out that most of the valley was a special area that Forest Service conservationists had been spending the last thirty years trying to restore from years of sheepherding abuse. The line of split log fenceposts extended all the way back along the edge of the valley to the first open area on the road coming in, and blue plastic tape was stretched between the posts, indicating that entry was prohibited. Main Circle instead arose in a meadow of sage to the right of the road by the fence, as you looked at it from the intersection.

I went to the right from the intersection and walked up a slope that in most places was gentle enough to maintain a walking pace, without needing to raise my knees in a climbing one. There was only one really steep stretch, and here the road curved around another bunch of upright grey volcanic rocks that looked like a stone castle. The road went up past it to a crest and went downhill into a plain for a little bit before sloping up again and finally coming to the edge of a graded gravel road, where the upper bus village was forming. The road coming up went into and out from tree cover several times on the way.

The road at the top looked like it went downhill to the right, and I walked down it, wondering if it completed a big circle that led back down to the lower parking lot. I found out later that it did, but going the other way. The way I took led down to a big flat area that was filling up with large buses. There was a pool full of water to the side, and the whole place looked artificially made. Later I heard this place called "the quarry". The pool was as big as a swimming pool, but it was filled only by rainwater; no stream was replacing the water. I didnít want to be swimming in it myself after there had been a lot of other people, but other people did, and I later read reports on a.g.r. of some of those people getting sick.

Finding that this was a cul de sac, I went back up and then back down the way I came. As I passed the castle, I saw a man standing on top of one of the rocks, totally nude with un-suntanned skin, hollering out an oration. He said that he had just returned from a Rainbow Gathering in India, and that he had a message for the American Rainbows. He then went on about living only in small communities and not leashing dogs but letting them run naturally in packs and other assorted things that we were doing wrong because they werenít natural enough. There were only few people on the trail, and only one or two others besides me stopping to listen. I wondered if he would go on to be a too familiar sight as the gathering went on, but I never saw him again.

By the time I got back to the intersection and the side of the valley, it was early afternoon. I was walking back to my van in the parking lot, but I soon saw a few piles of camping gear and some familiar green plastic tubs, and a piece of corrugated cardboard leaning against a tree, saying "INFO". I saw two young men in their 20s, Derek and Joey, walking about roping up tarps, and they told me that this was indeed going to be Information, and that "Marken is here, heís up in the parking lot". I remarked that this was the earliest I had seen Info go up (usually itís more like June the 24th or 5th). This made things very simple. I could haul in my tent tomorrow and set it up here, and not have to have a few days with no stuff stashing tent inside.

In Rap 107, a series of instructions on how to Rainbow gather that is passed out to newcomers, it says, "Camp together, establish neighborhoods. Lone campsites are easy targets for thieves". My neighborhood, my tribe in the Family, has been Information for the last four years.

This is place where we sit behind a counter and answer all kinds of questions people come in with: whereís this camp or that kitchen, when is the..., what should I do with my sick dog, do you know where I can get some..., where are they serving dinner circle, whatís this I hear about the rangers... ("and rumor control" comes after "Information" on one of our banners), and on and on. This is also the place where the Forest service people come to drop off reports and announcements, as well as a place for people advocating assorted political and/or religious causes to make some of their paper available. And this is where the Lost and Found is located. I was starting to get tired of the people coming by asking, "I seem to have lost my mind. Have you by any chance found it?"

I am accepted into the Info crowd mostly because of my involvement with the Magic Hat, tho sometimes I also play the role of Rainbow guru with the answers because there is nobody else there at the time - and this is where I put my tent where I keep the stuff I use during the day when I am not at my van. It is a green Wal-Mart medium sized dome, and I also put an army cot in there for daytime flaking out, because I am an old fart and high holy. (Yes, I also bring in an aluminum folding chair.)

The most common type of neighborhood is the one that surrounds a kitchen. The people camping here all work in that kitchen in some capacity. There are many jobs to be done other than standing by the fire or propane stove doing the actual cooking. You can haul in water in big jugs or buckets; you can gather or chop up firewood. You can also chop up vegetables. You can be especially appreciated if you are an industrious dishwasher. In the past I have been an early bird, the first guy there in the morning who cleans up last nightís mess and gets the fire going again and puts on the coffeepot.

Finding food at a gathering can be a long and frustrating process, especially in the days around the Fourth of July when there are the most people there. You can walk to several kitchens before you find one that is serving, and then stand in long lines to get only small portions of food. There are even times when you get up to the beginning of a line only to see the last of the batch of food served out to the person in front of you. You must forget about having normal meal times, and always carry your eating utensils with you so you can grab food whenever it appears. If you go back to your tent to fetch them, the food will be all served out when you get back. It is a hit or miss operation, and sometimes you miss for several hours.

The way around this used by most people after they have been to a few gatherings is to find a kitchen that turns you on, set up your tent near it, and work for it steady. Then you are always there when the food is ready, and you donít have to stand in line. You also get in on it if somebody prepares a little bit of a special treat, like bacon and eggs or hamburgers (almost all Rainbow kitchens are vegetarian, both because of beliefs and the especial difficulty of preserving meat in the woods far from ice and electricity). And if a joint or pipe goes around, it is passed to you. You pretty much have to form a monogamous relationship with one kitchen, trying to do a little bit for several doesnít get your work noticed as well.

Many (but not all) kitchens get their food from a central supply group that goes into the surrounding towns to buy and bring in food in bulk quantities and store it in a main tent. The money for this comes from the Magic Hat, which is sometimes a real hat, but more often a five gallon bucket that either sits on the counter at Info, or is carried around at Dinner Circle. And this an event that happens every evening near sunset where people gather in a large circle, join hands and say "Om", then sit down with their eating utensils to be served by people from the kitchens carrying 5-gallon buckets, ice chests, or stainless steel restaurant pots full of cooked food.

While the serving is going on I carry the bucket around and people put money in. Often I have help; other people accompany me with their real hats, guitarists and singers follow me around, Vermin Supreme spins one of his comedy routines; other times I do it all by myself just saying ĎMagic Hat" over and over again. After taking the hats and buckets around the circle at least two times, we take them to the middle of the circle where everyone can see and I spread a square of quilted cloth 3 feet wide on the ground, and on it at least three people count that evenings take. Then we put it all back into one bucket and I take it back to Info. One person keeps the money in a secure place, and we reveal that personís identity only to those actively involved in supply buying.

In addition to buying foodstuffs, Magic Hat money is also used to buy supplies for C.A.L.M (Center for Alternative Living Medicine, the first aid place and infirmary); batteries for two-way radios used by people doing Shanti Sena (Peace Army in Sanskrit, a term first used by Mahatma Gandhi), which taking care of fights, people being accused of theft, and other disturbances (there is no Rainbow police force, we all respond if someone hollers "Shanti Sena"); and supplies for the crew that cleans up after the gathering is over. Over the course of several national gatherings, I have seen the Hat bring in from 12 to 17 thousand dollars. This gathering it brought in $15,365.03

I may not be the most entertaining hat passer, but I manage to get my ass out there every evening, and this is an ability displayed by not all that many other people in the RFOLL. Only one other person, a dear sister named Kaiíom, was also out there every evening this gathering, and she covered for me one evening when an overexerted foot was giving me great pain when walking. Passing the hat also gets me on the Banking Council, which decides how the money is spent and to whom it is given, and sometimes you have more people wanting it than there is enough to give, and sometimes you have to turn people down and they express their frustrations in strong ways. This is another thing that makes few people want to get involved with the money trip.

But for me itís a job that I find not too difficult or strenuous, and it only occupies about two hours in the evening, and it gets me behind the counter at Information, where I have access to lots of store-bought foods that other Infomaniacs bring in, which makes up for paucities at the kitchens. And joints and pipes go around there too. And someone would notice if somebody strange was going into my tent. And this is where I hear the news when it first breaks and get to observe the movers and shakers. This is my home within the home that I get welcomed to at the gate.

I talked for a bit with Derek and Joey, then toured the immediate area. There were three kitchens going up nearby, one a breakfast pancake place called Wake and Cake. Another was staffed mostly by young people of the hats-backward generation who wore black shirts and khaki or camo pants, with lots of tattoos and piercings, more than the rainbow tie-dye hippie look of us more elderly baby boomers. This was called Shut Up And Eat It Kitchen. A little bit beyond was Nick at Night straddling both sides of the road. "Need a cigarette, we got one; got a cigarette, we need one; we jones so you donít have to"; sort of like a take-a-penny-leave-a-penny, but for tobacco. Again the people here were mostly blacky-khaki. (Lots of people at gatherings are dressed the way mainstream people are when they are recreating in the woods: jeans, shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, baseball caps, in the patterns you find at Wal-Mart or Target.)

But I was most delighted to see that Rainbow Crystal Kitchen was going to be at the intersection. The main feature of this kitchen has for years been a huge pot full of mulligan stew soup containing vegetables, rice, potatoes, and whatever else looks like it might be good in it, heavily spiced to sort of a curry taste. There is often a line in front of it because it is so good, but it always moves real fast.

Every kitchen has at least one person or a few who are the driving force behind it, people who store the pots and pans in the off-season and bring them to the gathering, who build the fire pits and string up the tarps, who determine the recipes and instruct the novices in how to cook, the leaders that the Rainbow Family isnít supposed to have. They are followed out of respect for their experience, wisdom, and ability to get things done, rather than out of fear of jail or being fired or other Babylonian motivations. Others feel secure when they are in charge.

Some of these leaders can get away with behavior more associated with a sergeant than a peace-and-love hippie. They have strong personalities and are not hesitant to yell at and chew out those who are doing things wrong, and one name for these people is "kitchen ogre", the one person who can be an asshole if necessary to keep things from getting completely out of hand. But this name can as often be respectful and complimentary as derogatory. Most ogres are men, but female ones do exist.

The ogre of Rainbow Crystal Kitchen is Gary, whom I have regarded as a friend since the New Mexico gathering in Ď95. He is about my age, and dresses in jeans, shirt and vest with not much hippie finery. He likes to set the pot right on Main Trail and sit next to it in a chair, chatting with people as they pass by.

At a gathering the people who come and spend all their time on pot or tripping, roaming around aimlessly or just sitting and grooving on how beautiful everything is, and not doing any work to keep the gathering going, are called "bliss ninnies". And "bliss" is used as an adjective: dishes that are provided for people who forget to bring their own are called "bliss ware", a firepit next to a kitchen where people can just sit and talk is a "bliss fire", and a rail put in front of a kitchen to keep the bliss ninnies out of the way of those working inside is a "bliss rail".

In nine years there has only been one time that I have seen a bliss rail in front of Rainbow Crystal Kitchen. And that was probably Garyís worst year. All the other times his kitchen has been open to anyone who wants to come inside, and as a result he has never had any problem getting many people to work with him preparing the food. This openness has always attracted me, and in some of the years before I got involved with the Magic Hat, I worked in and camped near Rainbow Crystal. (By contrast Wake and Cake had bliss rails that kept you separated from those inside by more than ten feet, with signs on them saying in big letters, "CREW ONLY", and sometimes it was hard to get their attention if you were outside wanting to ask anything. It was like they told me right off that I was not part of their group and shouldnít try joining.)

I returned to my van as evening was approaching. On the way back I found that Bread of Life was setting up a few hundred feet from the creek with the fagot (this means bundle of sticks) bridge across it. This has been one of the biggest Christian kitchens at gathering. You can hear people singing songs of celebration at their bliss fire, but their attempts at proselytizing you donít go any further than making some books available on a counter by the one where they serve. And they have been efficient and reliable. There were to be only two mornings thru the rest of the gathering when I came and they didnít have.

A few days later at Info I was in my tent when I heard Robbie Gordonís voice outside. I looked out the door and saw him sitting on one of the eight folding chairs that Marken had brought in, saying that he was interested in working at Information. I called out, "I donít know, heís a mandolin player and you know how they are." This was followed by his "OH!" of recognition and the ainít seen for seven months hug. He set up his teepee just to the right of Info as you faced it from the road. But he didnít work Info very much, his teepee became the continuous conversation and acoustic music pit that it always is.

So it was looking like this would be an easy gathering with all the good stuff nearby, and lots of things were starting to look perfect. But like it is every year, there was going to be some drama with the U.S. Forest Service, and the perfection was soon to be flawed a little by events to come (not turned into chaos, just made not as good as it was at first).

(to be continued)

The Cold Easy Gathering - part 2

I farted around at my van in the parking lot until afternoon the second morning I was there, the 22nd. I set up a propane stove, the kind that mounts directly on top of a canister, on the floor of my van in front of the bed and behind the passenger seat, just inside the sliding door. I was cooking up a saucepan full of ramen when two Forest Service LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) came up thru the woods toward the rear of my van. They looked at my license plate and one of them asked, "What are you doing here?", and I answered, "Visiting the Rainbow Gathering". He said back in an incredulous voice that sounded like acting, "VISITING the RAINBOW gathering?!" Then they glanced in my door, and the same one said, "Fixing yourself some lunch?", and I said, "Yeah." The other one looked thru my windshield at all the crap piled on the passenger seat, and in the broad daylight pointed a flashlight at it. Finally the other one said, "Looking okay." The first one asked where I had come from, I told him, "Lawrence, Kansas", he said, "You came all the way from there?", then they both left.

(My van is a GMC Safari whose previous owner was probably a real soccer mom. The inside I have converted to a camper. I havenít changed anything on the outside except the license plate. I have no bumper stickers, painted on art or insignia of any kind. All of my pot paraphernalia was back in the little bag where it stays unless under immediate use. I learned to have things like this after years of experience as a rubber tramp living in a vehicle.)

After that I hauled in my first jackass load in a large army backpack: the tent, the cot, and two pillows, and I set them up at the back of Information. This time Marken was there. He is a man over 60 with snow white hair and beard, and he is a main instigator of Information. He comes in a step van with a trailer behind containing the tarps, big pieces of plywood for bulletin boards, picks and shovels, Coleman lanterns, plastic tubs to put lost and found items in, pencils and pens, and all the other Info paraphernalia. He also keeps the ledger book for the Magic Hat. As soon as the Info sign was out people started coming with questions. I heard of some rumors that turned out to be mostly true:

A few days ago a man in A-Camp had gone berserk when another man drove thru too fast when a child was on the road. He smashed that manís windshield with a shovel and then attacked the man with it. The victim was in hospital in critical condition. The attacker turned himself in to the law.

Alcohol is in general not tolerated inside the gathering. A-Camp forms near the front gate, and this is the place where drinkers indulge. This can sometimes be a place where loud drunken behavior, arguments, and violence occur, and its presence is a decades-old controversy. They are treated as pariahs by many people at the gathering, but others say they should be treated with Rainbow love and understanding. Everybody knows itís not going to go away.

A permit had been signed for this gathering.

Forest Service regulations now require that someone sign a permit application to have a group event of 75 or more people. For years nobody in the RFOLL ever asked permission, everybody saying that this violates the first amendment of the Constitution, which says, "Congress shall pass no law...abridging...the right of the people peaceably to assemble." In 1988 a federal judge in Texas upheld that right. In 1999 another judge in Pennsylvania found differently, and said that the FS could impose "restrictions of time and manner" without necessarily denying people the basic ability to assemble. Three Rainbow people each served three months in a minimum security federal lockup for "camping without a permit" in 2002.

Whether or not to sign a permit is a divisive issue in the Family, some saying defiance and civil disobedience to the end, others saying itís only a piece of paper and render unto Caesar what is Caesarís for peace. But the fact of the matter is that with the gatheringís anarchistic structure where nobody can compel another to do anything except by peer pressure, there is no way to stop one person out of the 10,000 or more who attend from signing a permit if that person really wants to. On June 21 the FS LEOs threatened to evacuate the site by force unless a permit was applied for. Jeff Klein, who is a lawyer in his Babylonian life, had his secretary, who was not going to attend the gathering, sign a permit application.

A man who was sleeping in his tent nude was awakened by some LEOs and given a ticket for public nudity. He was given a thousand dollar fine and banned from all National Forest land for a year and a month (meaning he also couldnít come to the gathering next year).

The actual exact amounts turned out to be different, but there was indeed a prohibition of nudity imposed by the rangers for this forest and this event. On the afternoon of the 25th I went up the hill toward Upper Bus Village again to explore what new camps and kitchens had arisen, skyclad but with a dress draped around my neck for quick donning, because I had just driven 2000 miles to be able to do it and I was willing to keep my eye out. I got all the way to the quarry without spotting any rangers, but all along the way Rainbows were warning me about getting a ticket. I started back down, then a brother on the trail said, "Thereís some six-ups just around the next turn." (When rangers are seen walking or driving thru a gathering, people yell "six up" to warn others.) I covered, and indeed there were four greenjeans discussing something by a tree by the road. But I was receiving far more enforcement from Family that day than from the law.

And Forest Service SUVs were being driven on the road thru the increasing number of pedestrians as often as hourly. And more stories came thru Information about people being snuck up upon in the woods by LEOs like I was. They were stopping vehicles decked out in hippie regalia and making the occupants get out while they searched. Their presence was heavy, and it was evident that the signing of a permit did not lead to a lessening of harassment by them.

Across the road from Information, but about 50 feet over on the right, was a circular grove of trees maybe 25 feet across with grass in the middle. This was deemed an ideal space to hold small councils, and it was called Cooperations. On the afternoon of the 24th, I was walking around just exploring, and when I passed Cooperations I saw a circle of Family people with several Forest Service uniforms among them. I had walked into this council well after it had started, and I didnít pay so much attention to what was being said as I did to the faces and the nametags over the right shirt pockets of the FS people.

There was Tim Lynn, the new Incident Management Team Commander who had replaced Malcolm Jowers. (The FS regards a Rainbow Gathering as an "incident", like a fire or a riot, and sends their "incident management team" of LEOs, many from Washington DC, to "manage" us.) He was middle-aged with short black hair and talked in a nasal southern accent reminiscent of Gomer Pyleís. The main difference between him and his predecessor was how he displayed a sense of humor. He could joke around a lot, in contrast to Jowers, where I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I saw him crack a smile. Tim Lynn had a sort of wing it while chuckling style.

And there was Russ Arthur, the head of the LEOs for this particular incident. He had a cowboy mustache and a Gary Cooper in "High Noon" demeanor, very reserved and very official. And Lynn Bidlack, the Permit Administrator, a middle aged woman with curly sandy blond hair, who could cite all kinds of rules and regulations and sometimes could have the air of a nit-picking high school English teacher.

This council was being conducted in a way different from the ideal Rainbow way of passing a feather around and listening to the feather holder speak without interruption. This ideal often doesnít stay reality for long. Sometimes people stray far from the original subject of the discussion. Sometimes people orate on repetitiously for an hour or more, with there being no way for others to stop them other than several people together yelling to shut up and pass the feather. Sometimes the feather holder lets others "address the feather" and interrupt with more long diversions, and sometimes the feathered one canít even be heard over others hollering, "May I address the feather?" And sometimes people just interrupt, with no deference to any kind of protocol.

This council appeared to have a chairperson telling people theyíre going on too long or getting off the subject. She was Carla (the one who posts here on a.g.r.). (She wouldnít have been called a "chairperson" tho, the more Rainbow correct term would be "facilitator" or "focalizer".) She seemed to be doing a good job of it, and the meeting appeared to be going smoothly, without there being any looks of impatience on any of the FS people. I did not stay for all of that meeting, but left early. I found out later that another meeting with the FS was scheduled in two days.

I was there for the beginning of that one, on the 26th. The feather was first passed around in silence, and some of the greenjeans looked at with a combination of bewilderment and skepticism. There was a brief discussion of having a facilitator, Carla again volunteered and there were no objections, but I donít remember her having to do too much. Lynn Bidlack then started it out by saying that they had reviewed some of our complaints from last year. "We will no longer have horses being ridden thru riparian areas. There wonít be any more color guards on the fourth of July."

Talk soon turned to the FS vehicles being driven on the road inside the gathering, and the boulders that some Rainbow people had been rolling into the roads to impede them. Some Family folk remarked that sometimes the vehicles were being driven at night without lights, that there were sometimes children in the road; others warned them that the pedestrian traffic was going to get more and more congested as the gathering progressed toward the Fourth. The LEOs were very angry about the boulders, as was a brother from CALM.

Lynn had refused to let us close any portions of the road, as other FS people have let us do at past gatherings. "This is usually a public road, and we donít let any other groups deny their use to the public. We are treating you the same way we treat everybody else." A few Rainbow brothers said words to the effect of, "If we donít see any more vehicles driving thru for at least 24 hours, I guarantee you they will all be moved." One promised to do it all himself if necessary.

Another subject brought up by several was the decades-old issue of LEOs carrying guns. ("Guns are inappropriate, violence is contrary to the spirit of the gathering", it says in Rap 107.) The LEOs said that regulations required them to wear them and there wasnít anything they could do about them. It was suggested that they cover them with hankies or something, but that idea wasnít enthusiastically taken up by them.

There was discussion of an incident where the LEOs came upon an injured brother and automatically called an ambulance in from town. Some thought that that person could have been brought to CALM. Promises were made to work more closely with CALM in the future, if it could be established in a place easy for the rangers to find.

There was lots of talk about the LEOs who were riding horses. Gary complained about "horses shitting in my kitchen". Lynn shot back about he should expect it if he puts his kitchen right next to the road. There were requests from others that the horses stay at least 50 feet from kitchens, and Tim said that that was agreeable, but if a kitchen was right on the road, his horses would stay on it while going past.

Some Rainbows questioned the need for the horses at all. Russ replied that a man on a horse can move around much faster, and sometimes that mobility was needed. "The high visibility of the mounted patrols is needed to prevent crime." Gary countered that the high visibility causes incidents, and Carla said that the horses intimidate. The idea of ATVs was brought up and quickly booed down. There were some semi-facetious suggestions of diapers for the horses, or those poop bags you see behind carriage horses in big cities.

A few reiterated what has been a desire expressed by Rainbows for years: to be able to work with the Resource Management people instead of the law enforcement. To regard the gathering as a conservation issue rather than a criminal one. There are two separate branches of the Forest Service, one wears gold badges if they are from DC and silver ones if they are with the local forest, the other wears brass badges, and the brass is the metal most Rainbows like to see.

I brought up the subject of nudity. I repeated what I had heard about the guy being arrested and given a thousand dollar fine and an expulsion of more than a year. Another brother corrected me and said that the expulsion was for only one year, and that the fine was an amount of a few hundred (I canít recall the exact number he told me.) I was brief and quickly concluded by saying, "I find that rather excessive, and that I question the need for prohibiting nudity". There was no other mention of nudity at that second meeting, but it was to be intensely discussed at the next one.

Stan Sylva, the main resource management manager for the Modoc Natl. Forest, spoke, "We are here to help you, AND to protect the local communities." He then went on to say he had some concerns for two of the local Indian tribes. "This morning I brought in some Native American elder women. They were pleased with the lack of litter, but they were concerned about people digging in Mother Earth, and with people moving rocks." He went on about how this valley had been one of their ancestral burial grounds, and that the place had spiritual significance to them. "This is their homeland. Not being able to participate in the choice of site concerns them."

Then a brother who had been involved in the scouting protested that he had gotten some Indian contacts from a local ranger, and had invited them and that ranger to come to Thanksgiving council and some of their scout rendezvous, and got no replies.

Talk came around again and again to the SUVs and the rocks on the road, finally Russ offered to halt all vehicle patrols and have the LEOs come in on foot or on horses. Vehicles would be brought in only "in an emergency". There was some request for clarification of just what was an emergency, and Russ said that is something for the incident commander to determine, an answer not well received by some of the Rainbows. Tim said, "If one of our officers were threatened, weíd come in. We have to protect out own people." Russ went on, "There are several reasons Ďemergencyí canít be defined. Tim and I will make the decision in each individual case."

At one point while this subject was being discussed a LEO truck drove by. "No, thatís not an emergency", said several Rainbows. But the meeting ended with a reiteration by the LEOs that they would not bring vehicles in, and the Rainbow brother who had been the most vocal about it again said he would take the boulders out himself if nobody else did.

At intervals thruout the meeting Gary would interrupt the rangers when they were speaking. If they were trying to explain to us what they were doing and why, he would bring up past incidents when they had done something contradictory. He said "lies"," lying", and "lied" a lot.

Most of the rangers had seen this kind of behavior from him before. When he was sitting beside his pot in front of his kitchen, he would yell insulting things to them as they were driving or riding by on their horses. He would berate them for carrying guns, "Guns in my church", and accuse them of deliberately riding them in streams. He would look for psychological buttons to push, questioning their masculinity, "Yeah you think youíre so tough, but..." Most of the time the lawmen displayed remarkable cool in the face of this, but one of Garyís accusations was true: they really were looking for some way to get him, because he was especially provocative and disruptive.

And at this meeting a lot of Rainbows were getting fed up with him too, chastising him with cries of "Respect the feather!" and "FOCUS!" One time somebody started an om to get everybody to calm down. Another brother at this council was also prone to outbursts in reaction to things the rangers were saying, repeatedly bringing up the Rainbow vehicles that were being stopped and searched.

But the meeting ended with compromises and agreement being made, and a lot of us who had been there started watching in expectation and trepidation to see if the Forest Service would keep their word and not drive in. Twenty four hours elapsed and I didnít see any more trucks on the road. A few different sources told me the boulders were removed from the road within an hour after the meeting ended.

(to be continued)

The Cold Easy Gathering - part 3

On that naked afternoon I was carrying a notebook and asking for and writing down names of camps I came across. Every year Barry at Information paints a map of the gathering on a piece of plywood, but this year someone brought a global positioning satellite receiver to get some exact positions for him. Some resource rangers brought in some satellite photos of the site, showing exactly where the trees and meadows are, and several kitchens and gathering landmarks, located also by GPS. But it usually takes Barry a few days to get his map done, and that day there had been many people coming and asking for a map, so we were making a temporary one by penciling in dots and names on a USGS topo map.

Along the creek near Bread of Life ran a trail that went up the hill and eventually met the road that came up from the intersection and Rainbow Crystal. Along this arose several kitchens, including Montana Mud and Loviní Oven. Some cross trails appeared connecting this path to the road below by the valley side.

There were kitchens run by four different groups of Krishna devotees, several by evangelical Christian groups, and one by Jews called Jerusalem Camp. There were assorted camps for people from one state, and one for gay people called Fairy Camp. Kiddie Village, a special camp and kitchen for parents and children, was set in a grove of aspen trees across the valley from the Info side. There were others with names like Warriors of the Light, Magic Bowl, Turtle Soup, TKK (Those Kids Kitchen), and Eat The Living (this served sprouts).

The meeting with the rangers on the 28th started basically with Lynn Bidlack saying, "Letís discuss permit issues." She mentioned some piles of garbage bags in the lower parking lot and another in the quarry that were starting to get really big, and asked that they start to be removed. She mentioned the fagot bridge by Bread of Life and asked us to "get the logs out of the road". She said that she had flagged off a spot six feet upstream for us to build a better bridge.

Then she mentioned that there were some "kitchens out of compliance", by being less than 300 feet from "any surface running water". Two of these were Shut Up And Eat It and Rainbow Crystal. Gary protested bitterly. He said that Edie Asrow, a local forest resource ranger, had told him that it was all right for him to put his soup pot at the intersection two weeks before. "I told her I didnít want for there to be any problems between us and them, and she said there wouldnít be any problems with this." Lynn said that agreement had been made before the permit had been drawn up, and that it was in contradiction to the permit as it now is. (In years past 100 feet had long been the standard accepted by both Rainbows and rangers.)

After several people got Gary to calm down Lynn continued. "Now on the subject of nudity. The regulations say that you cannot be nude on forest service land. We will try to be lenient; if you are away from the road so someone canít see you from the road, we will not come looking for you. But the main trail is a public roadway." Then lots of people spoke to this. A lawyer brother pointed out that California state law did not prohibit nudity by itself. There had to be "lewdness" for it to be illegal. He also pointed out that the text in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 32, Section 261 said that the local FS officials could only make a discretionary prohibition; it was normally not prohibited. He asked, "What legitimate government interest is there in this area?" Russ answered, "We must maintain our relationship with other communities." The gist of their argument was that locals could come in unawares and possibly be offended. "You are not being singled out. Other groups also have to adhere to this."

Then some other Family people spoke on behalf of nakedness. "It is part of our culture." "I walked around the site naked with Forest Service officers in West Virginia." "No nudity in the parking lots, this has always been our way. But inside the gathering we have always been free." Lynn said, "Pick a more remote spot next time. We are trying to be as lenient as possible." Russ said, "We will not ticket anybody for nudity on the fourth of July."

At one point during this discussion, an elderly man walked up to the edge of the circle totally nude, apparently with no awareness of what had been going on here. Russ a flusteredly said, "Can you cover up, please?", while the rest of us were snickering. The naked man continued to walk on, and a few people went up to him and started talking to him away from the rest of us. I didnít see him put anything on himself as he walked away.

Then the subject of no vehicles entering the gathering came up again. There was a camp called Area 51 at the edge of the woods where the road in from the lower parking lot left the open sunny stretch. The LEOs were driving their vehicles up to a wide place in the road just before it, then parking there before walking in. Several people protested that the agreement, as they had been made to understand it, meant the all vehicles go no further than the place where the gravel met the dirt (which would have been by Front Gate in the lower parking lot.). "This is a breach of trust", said the rock removing brother from the last meeting.

Russ and Tim insisted that their understanding was Area 51. They said they needed "a staging area" and a place to do their paper work. A few other rangers piped in and agreed, "Thatís the way I understood it." (I do not have a clear memory myself of this being stated distinctly by anyone at the earlier meeting.) Then the feather progressed and several Rainbows also protested that they hadnít heard anything about Area 51 in the agreement. Finally Tim said, "There seems to have been some miscommunication" and apologized, and promised to stop using Area 51 for parking.

Thruout all this Gary was being as unruly as ever. People would say to him, "Please respect the council", and he would snap back, "I donít respect any council where guns are present." A few days before some LEOs in an SUV had driven up to the intersection and turned to go up the hill, but immediately found the road beyond filled with people visiting Trading Circle. The driver gave up on trying to go further, and backed up to make a Y turn. As he backed up he knocked over some cardboard signs that had been set up at the edge of the road. Gary brought this up repeatedly, "You backed over our signs and destroyed them." And he protested over and over about how he had been given permission by Edie Asrow, and how all this talk of "compliance with the permit" coming from Lynn Bidlack was just disguising their desire single him out for harassment. he turned one interruption into a long diatribe with people shushing him from all around..

Then Stan got up and said that heíd had enough. The other Forest Service people all got up and started to leave too, except for Lynn and Russ who stayed behind at the tree Gary had been sitting against. Gary was challenging her, "Show me where I am supposed to put a kitchen", and Lynn was answering back, "Iíll go with you right now and show you if you want." But Russ was insisting on escorting her, and Gary refused to let him because of his gun. This exchange was repeated several times until Tim came over and beckoned both rangers to leave with him.

The next morning Russ Arthur and Tim Lynn came in with five mounted LEOs behind them, and Russ walked inside Rainbow Crystal to where Gary was sitting. He started out by trying to politely ask him to move, but Gary snapped back defiantly. Russ with a look of anger barely contained on his face took out his ticket pad and handed Gary one for non-compliance with permit regulations: kitchen too close to water source. He was given 48 hours to move it. Gary had told us he would accept a ticket and take it to court, and he took it without further incident. After Russ had come back out and was starting to leave with Tim, I suddenly saw Tim turn back toward one of the brothers who had been working in the kitchen and say, "Are you threatening me?" It came out that he had taken a pickaxe and swung it into the ground with angry force. The brother said no, and some of the other people around managed to defuse the tension. Gary said to him after it was over, "That was dumb."

By the intersection on the other side from Rainbow Crystal were several large shady pine trees, and there grew one of the most opulent Trading Circles I have ever seen. This is where people spread out blankets on the ground and cover them with articles for trade. No money is supposed to change hands here, it is all barter.

All kinds of things are typically on display: Semiprecious stones and crystals of quartz. Jewelry, like necklaces, earrings, woven bracelets, and materials for making them, beads, string, chains. Clothes in all kinds of hippie and blacky-khaki patterns, knit hats, tie-dyed t-shirts and black ones, batik scarves, India print skirts and dresses, as well as balls of yarn and spools of thread. Camping gear like knives, backpacks, flashlights, batteries, candles, propane canisters, swiss army knives, all-in-one pliers. Marijuana smoking paraphernalia, glass pipes, butane lighters, roach clips, also stuff for smoking tobacco, "tailor-made" cigarettes (manufactured, not hand rolled), cans of Bugler and American Spirit. Books and magazines about non-mainstream political causes and exotic religions. Buttons, embroidered patches, and t-shirts also expressing such views. And food you canít get in the vegetarian kitchens, candy, especially Snickers bars, bags of potato and tortilla chips, cans of soda pop, packets of hot chocolate mix.

I saw a few expensive looking musical instruments on display, including a set of Scottish bagpipes, a trumpet, and some guitars. And I saw a few lay out some stuff for trade that I knew they had originally got for free, some Gideon Bibles that were being given out in some Jesus kitchens, and an apocalyptic novel that had been offered to me from a box a Christian evangelist was carrying on the trail.

Trying to get stuff at the circle can sometimes be frustrating; often what you have is not what the trader is looking for. Or you ask that person what s/he is looking for and you get, "Oh, I donít know, what do you have? Trading Circle has made me appreciate one thing about money: everybody will take it. But there is one thing which is almost as good as money at Trading Circle - marijuana. People write in the wish lists on the cardboard signs they make, "nugs, kind bud, ganja". This year I had a good supply of it, and for four days I made out. I got a quilted jacket, a knit hat, a water bottle holder with a shoulder strap, a copy of the Army Survival Manual, and a rayon sarong. It wasnít until July 4th that I heard something I thought I never would hear, "Oh Iíve got plenty of weed right now..." That had to have been in the middle of a temporary wave of abundance, a few days later lots of people were jonesing for it again.

Two days after giving Gary his ticket, about noon, Tim and Russ returned, again with a 5 horses behind. Russ asked for Gary, and Marty Heartsong, a brother who had sung and played his guitar many times by the soup pot, said, "He isnít here, sir, he is appearing in court right now." (Which was the truth, he was in Likely making a plea on the ticket he had been given.) Russ said, "I need someone to take the responsibility for this situation", and Marty said he would. Russ said that we had 30 minutes to move these structures. If we didnít, he had a crew and a flatbed truck parked outside, and he would bring them in. As Marty was saying we would, six people who had been working in the kitchen picked up one of the tables made of plywood with cut logs for legs, pall bearer style, and started carrying it away. Then more people who had been standing around joined in, and in 17 minutes about a hundred hippies took down the tarps and poles and carried them with all the other kitchen accoutrements to a big pile they made by two trees about 200 feet away - and disappeared the site by filling in the fire pits and all the other holes, and scattering leaves and branches over the reworked ground. (Somebody with a watch timed it.)

The newly vacated area immediately filled with Trading Circle blankets. Shut up And Eat It was given until the next morning to move a part of their kitchen to the other side, but their response was to decide fuck it and take the kitchen down completely. The next day Lynn Bidlack and a lady resource ranger came with a tape measure and pointed out some areas where Rainbow Crystal could be moved to, and a tarp was roped up in one between two trees. Two afternoons later I was offered some food out of a pot that a young brother was carrying, and he said it was from Rainbow Crystal. But I didnít encounter any more after that. That same day I saw the Rainbow Crystal banner back up where it had been by the trail, and Gary in his chair talking with passers by as he had been doing before. He set out his steel fire ring and started a fire in it, but the pot full of soup never returned.

Around Info there had been talk of having a nude-in on the 1st of July at noon. It would center in Main Circle, but hopefully spread out over all the camp. But at appointed hour on that day, the sun had been behind a huge cloud for an hour, and it was starting to drizzle. It felt cold enough for a jacket. I looked over toward Main Circle from Info and didnít see anyone, but I was told later that five people had showed up.

From June 26 until that day the sky had been mostly cloudy more often than partly, and the evenings brought scattered thunderstorms. Some of those storms introduced themselves with pea-sized hail. Dinner Circle was washed out on the 26th and 28th. But July 2nd brought the sun back and for five days conditions were comfortable by afternoon enough to go nude. By this time the crowds on the trails had grown dense, and sometimes I had trouble elbowing my way past Trading Circle. I felt safety in these numbers and went around skyclad. I tied a knot in two corners of my six-up sarong so I could quickly cover, and I heard the six-ups in plenty of time. On the fourth I walked blatantly in front of several groups of LEOs, and they kept their word about allowing it on that day.

But usually I was the only one out of the thousands around me who was nude. I saw Grandpa Woodstock, who has done it for years and made it part of his trademark, and one black guy who was doing the Trading Circle game of dangling a dope pipe on a string from the end of a stick, like he was fishing, waiting for passers by to put something in it. (And this guy was stopping other people and turning them on when he did get a bite, and he did me.) But I would walk for sometimes hours and be the only naked one while everybody else was clothed. Sometimes it felt like one of those old nightmares I used to have many years ago was coming true. Another fantasy I toyed with was I am the lead in a dystopian movie about the Last Naked Person in the Rainbow Family.

(to be continued)

The Cold Easy Gathering - part 4

In the afternoon of the 2nd I was sitting in Information when I saw two mounted rangers go by followed by a LEO SUV. Behind it was a sedan, and thru the back seat window I saw some elderly Indian womenís faces. This was followed by two more SUVs, then another sedan with more Indians in the back, then another SUV, then two more horses - six vehicles and four horses in all. This looked like some kind of procession for some very-VIPs, and in contravention to the agreement about vehicles coming in. I later found that up the hill there had been a council to satisfy some of the "Native American Elders" who had asked to talk with the Rainbows. I didnít find out about it until after it had ended, but my friend Robbie took some notes and I will attempt to tell what went on there according to them.

Frances Denali introduced herself as a Paiute tribal chairperson. She said, "We respect your right to assemble, but these are village sites and grave sites of our ancestors. I am saddened by this. Leave them as they were." She didnít like the tarps and banners that had been draped over rocks. "We have to live by the rules. You say you have no leaders, but none of you wants to be held liable. Who is ultimately going to pick up the tab for this? The taxpayers. I canít be like you. I am a leader. I have to be an example. I have to follow the rules." Her sister followed her, saying, "This is just one great big party to you guys. Shame on you. I am really hurt."

Another woman spoke, "Twenty years ago [the 1984 gathering, just a few miles away from the 2004 site] you knew about us. We were never consulted. We have to live by the rules like everyone else in the USA. ...Get on the internet and find the tribes."

A man said he was a Pit River Indian. "Christianity destroyed our people. I respect it, but it is not our way. Your problem with nudity is from your Christian influence. We ran around here almost all nude. We change with this earth." Later he said, "I donít want you to feel sad." He then invited the Rainbow Family to a gathering of [Indian] tribes by Mount Shasta in October.

Another woman introduced herself as a Pit River councilperson and an information officer for the tribe. "My grandpa said, Ďeducate yourselfí. ...We need help with the Medicine Lake Cultural Protection Plan. ...We have no permit."

An old man spoke, "Respect our land. Take no rocks. Respect our Indian people. We donít agree with your government either. But donít go to sacred sites. The spirits will bring strife and sickness to you." A woman then spoke, "You make our work a little harder. Leave everything intact."

Then Dan Mesa, a Forest Service employee, said, "You say you have no leaders, but three of you came to my office and asked me, Ďwhat do you think the tribes will think of a gathering?í I replied, ĎI donít think they will be very happy.í They didnít believe me. They tried to give me a sell job. Thursday we walked thru. I was amazed, I was disappointed, I was disgusted. I have no words that can express my feelings. My son is a northern Paiute. You think you are Indians and pass the feather around. My son and I fished here and prayed. You tricked me." At this point he was crying. "Tell them to stop the digging. Theyíre defecating on our ancestors. You donít want to use porta-potties? ...People need at least 6 months notice, 9 months to understand the full impact. I canít be calm. Frances wanted me to speak. Itís a burden." He then showed a picture of his son fishing. "These tears are because it is tugging at my heart. My boyís mother says, ĎStop the digging!í"

A woman then said, "We never get to see anything that is dug up, that all goes to anthropologists" Frances then spoke again, "If we want to dig more than 14 inches into the land, it can take 3 or 4 months to get a permit, and this is if there is an emergency. The Forest Service is paying for all of this. In 6 or 9 months we might find out how much all of this costs. You say, Ďlets have a big spiritual gathering.í But our elders taught respect for the land. This country here is the richest in the USA for sacred sites."

Then a young Indian man from South Dakota got up to speak. Before he did he went over and shook hands with several of the elders, one after another. "Our elders are tired", he said. Then he read from a paper the familiarWarriors of the Rainbow prophecy. "I felt bad vibes on the mountain. It was a burial ground." Then he shook hands with the elders again.

A woman said, "Iíd like to see the 3 people who came to my office." A rainbow sister explained that one of them, Plunker, couldnít be there since he had been subpoenaed as a witness in court for a hearing on the shovel attack.

The Felipe of Kiddie Village spoke. (He is Rainbow, very proud of his Native American heritage, and very moving in the way he teaches the traditions.) "We come here to unite, to share our respect, to do our ceremony. This was not intended to be disrespectful. ...We have been at Yucca Mountain, Big Mountain, the Big Valley, the Nevada test site. We have supported you. ...We worship together, we learn together. I am personally very sorry that this was not communicated." He then shook hands with the elders. "We have had alcoholics too. We go beyond, to heal each other, to purify our spirit and mind."

A man spoke who said he was a Forest Service archeologist. "There are seven prehistoric sites in the main area, including one large summer encampment. Seven days notice would have been helpful."

Then Carla spoke, "There is no hierarchy, but eldership and leadership exist among us. It is informal. Most of us come to work, play, do service. ...I am hurt that youíre hurt. I can only apologize for myself." At this point she was in tears. "I hope that you will forgive us." She then shook hands with all the elders.

Then Scott Addison, a Rainbow brother, was the first to really try to defend the Family. "We canít come in the springtime to see because there is still snow on the ground. We have an impaired ability to talk with the government. Our people have gone to jail. The Forest Service issued Ďclosure ordersí, and made no mention of sacred sites." He then went on to explain why slit trench latrines are essential and port-potties are not an alternative.

The next speaker was a Choctaw man. "Our ancestors are being sold. We cannot mark the grave sites. Someone will steal the bones. It would be like ĎOh, a welcome sign. Lets dig it upí. They would be on Ebay."

The next to last speaker said he was a full-blooded Dakota. "I know about Lakota culture. We are a young nation. What can I do to help you? I said at Thanksgiving Council, letís talk to the indigenous people. As a Dakota, I say, ĎWelcome to this continent.í Thank you for respecting me and my ancestors."

The last to speak was an elderly man, "Itís got to come from the heart."

Robbie told me that thruout the meeting there had been crying and other great displays of emotion. Info was later informed by some rangers who came by that the Indian elders had requested of the Family that we dig new holes no deeper than 3 feet and not move any more rocks.

At Rainbow noon the following day, the 3rd, a council of just Rainbows was called in Main Circle to discuss this issue. A brother started it out by saying that he was angered and embarrassed by finding out what had gone on. More people started expressing the same feelings, and talk soon arose of everybody celebrating the Fourth by packing up and leaving the site. Others said they were going to stop using latrines and pack their shit out in plastic bags. I was wondering if there was going to be a mass sweep of emotion and mass walkout.

But after several speakers some contrary voices arose. The manner in which the Indians had been brought in was called into question (but some suggested that they had to come by car as they did because of their age). Others talked of "Forest Service propaganda" that had been fed to and gullibly accepted by them, that they were now propagating themselves.

Then Felipeís wife Linda got up spoke for moderation. Some mistakes had been made and things will hopefully be done better the next time, but this was no reason not to continue the gathering and make the best of it we could. Then Feather, a sister who had actually been involved in trying to contact the Indians before the gathering, told of all the difficulties she had been thru. She had found that there were 12 different bands of Pit River Indians, and one that claimed they were the only official one. She had tried to find others thru websites without much success, and some of the contacts that she had been given by FS people didnít work out. She was able to convince a lot of people that efforts had indeed been made to contact the local Indian tribes before the gathering.

Finally the general feeling emerging around thee circle was to continue what we all were doing but with more awareness: to dig no deeper than 3 feet, not to move any more rocks, and not to hang out on them. Overlooking Main Circle was an outcropping of dark gray volcanic rock covered in spots with chartreuse and rust red lichen, like a fortress wall emerging from the sloping sage covered hillside. Granola Funk kitchen had set up close by and draped banners over the rocks, and people were climbing and sitting on top of them looking down at the gathering. At one point in the council a brother who was holding the feather exhorted us all to holler up at some people were up there at the time to "get off the rocks".

For about the first hour of the council, the feather did not go in a circle, instead the person holding it chose one of the several people holding up their hands to give it to. The speakers also mostly ignored people wanting to address the feather, and spoke without letting themselves be interrupted until they gave the feather away. But soon people started clamoring for it to be passed in a circle the traditional way, and when this finally started being done, the focus dissipated. There was no single circle, but a crowd with a circular hole in the middle, and people were trying to pass it back from the middle in zigzag patterns. It would now take hours to go all the way around, and it looked to me like the issue had been settled in practicality, so I left while the council was still going on. By dinner circle that day the banners had been removed from the rocks above.

(to be continued)

The Cold Easy Gathering - part 5

The third of July was one of those perfect days that show me elegantly what I drive so far and put up with so many physical challenges to find. It started in front of Robbieís teepee, I with my harp and Robbie with his mandolin and a parade of guitarists and singers who stopped by. Then the early afternoon brought the council about the Indian elders, which I left feeling that sanity had a chance in this universe after all.

The annual meeting of alt.gathering.rainbow posters was scheduled for that day at 3 oíclock (Rainbow time), but the council in Main Circle turned into something that I wanted to stay for. While sitting there I decided that the a.g.r. meeting would get second priority, especially since the one last year at Utah had mostly lurkers. I left that council with it feeling to me like later than three, but I went up to Instant Soup kitchen just the same. It was far up the hill.

I came into the kitchen only to find a few people there, and one of them was a brother with long straight black hair dressed in jeans and no shirt with a headband and beads in sort of Navajo style. I especially remembered him from the council I had just been at. He had talked of Native American lore a lot and I thought he was a real Indian. They were talking about that council as I came in, and I asked a man behind the counter if the a.g.r. meeting was over, and got a "what?" I figured I had missed it, and headed back to the main trail. I met a sister halfway there who asked about the meeting (Sunn Gypsy) and told her it didnít look like it was still going. I later found out that I was early instead of late, there was indeed an a.g.r. meeting, and that it had been attended by Bodhi and Woodstock, whose faces I had been waiting to see for years.

I said "shit" at the time, but Bodhi stopped me on the trail a few mornings later, and when carrying the Magic Hat at Dinner Circle on the 6th I asked the Indian brother his name. "He said, "Woodstock." I donít remember exactly what I said, but I know I had a look of amazement on my face. (From reading some of his posts I can now surmise that the black hair and brown complexion come from his Sicilian ancestry.) After a few more words of conversation he asked my name, I said, Butterfly Bill", and he said the same thing Montana Crystal said when I told her, "Oh my God!"

As I was walking back down from Instant Soup, I spied Garrick Beck at the lemonade stand that he said he intended to build this year, after he had been the permit signer last year and had been treated by the FS like he was boss of the Rainbow Family with the power to order his underlings to satisfy any of their demands.

I didnít have my cup with me. About halfway thru the council the sun was beating down and I had pulled off my dress, and when I had got back to my tent at Info I wanted to unload it all for a change and just take my what I absolutely needed: sandals, water bottle holder, and six-up sarong. I sang to Garrick "Gooey Greasy Gopher Guts and emphasized the last phrase, "and me without a spoon." He said he didnít have any bliss cups, but he gave me a squeezed out half of a lemon and filled it several times.

On the first, a dome tent with extended sides had been erected across from Cooperations and not far from Info. There the author Ram Dass was brought in the wheelchair he has to use since he had a stroke a few years ago. For hours he sat in front of his tent surrounded by ten or twenty admirers as they listened to him talk and answer their questions.

This afternoon a tarp had been spread on the ground before him and an audience of maybe fifty was listening to musicians serenading him. It was in the shade, so I got dressed again at my own tent and went over and sat on the tarp. A succession of singers and guitarists making harmony sang Rainbow spiritual songs: "We are one with the infinite sun, forever and ever and ever...", "The earth is our mother, we must take care of her..." "We are all in harmony, singing in celebration..." A brother lent me a tambourine and I used it to play heartbeat drum. For two hours it was divine ecstasy.

Then the brother had to leave, and I took it as the signal to reluctantly tear myself away, for Dinner Circle was approaching and it was time to go to work. That evening we collected $1964, the best of the gathering, and I had four sisters with me around the groundcloth helping me count it amid much merriment and laughter. I took a long time going back to my van on this, the most populous night of the gathering, stopping at bliss pits along the way to listen to drums, guitars, hare Krishnas, praise the Lords, and all my relationses.

On the second, a simple dead tree branch stripped of its bark had been set upright in the middle of Main Circle to serve as a Peace Pole. On the third another was set right next to it, this a straight log with "na-mu myo-ho ren-ge kyo" in Japanese characters carved into it, as well as a red oval with a white cross and border painted over it. Anonymous people started placing talismans around its base: crystals, seashells, necklaces, pendants, flowers, feathers, little lanterns, prayer flags with Tibetan letters on them, little pictures of people, books, bowls, incense sticks. There was even a box of sparklers and a prescription pill bottle.

On the Fourth of July starting at sunrise, silence is maintained thruout the camp. Most people donít speak at all and try to communicate with gestures, and others do so only in whispers. Drums and musical instruments are not played. The only place this is not observed is Kiddie Village, where they know they will never succeed at getting small children to be quiet. The Silent Meditation for World Peace happens in Main Circle.

First a few people come early in the morning and sit around the pole. As the morning progresses more and more come and start to sit around it. In the center by the pole a few people do assorted religious gestures: bowing, folding their hands, raising their arms to the sky, waving smoking bundles of sage. As the sun gets up toward the noon point, people start standing up and joining hands. This is never in response to any overt signals from leaders, people just start doing it spontaneously. Then somebody somewhere starts to say "om", and soon everybody joins in.

This year all the people stayed in main meadow, there was no big circle draped all over the valley as there was at Utah and Montana. To do so would have required people to stand in the protected zone. The om this year was lo-o-o-ong. Karen who works at Info had a watch and timed it, it lasted 35 minutes. It started out quiet, got up to about mezzo forte a few times before subsiding again, and didnít really get loud until just before the end.

What may have triggered the om were some distant musical sounds coming from Kiddie Village across the valley. A tradition has been to have a childrenís parade come into the circle just as the om is reaching its climax, and this parade sometimes has drums and instruments. But this morning the parade came out from the trees into the open, then halted in the middle of the sagebrush for a long time. By the time it had got going again and finally reached the circle, the om had ended with the usual cheers, whoops, and hollers that mark the end of the Silence - and the beginning of the umpteen ring circus of dancing, drumming, and singing that fills Main Meadow for the rest of the afternoon.

On the 6th Lynn Bidlack came by Info with a retinue of other rangers and dropped off several copies of a "Notice of Noncompliance" addressed to the name of the secretary who signed the permit. "This is formal notice and documentation of noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the June 21, 2004 special use permit issued to Individuals Assembling For A Rainbow Gathering. ...The enclosed spreadsheet identifies Incident Reports, Warning Notices, and Violation Notices given at this yearís gathering by law enforcement officers. As of July 3, 2004, a total of 465 written Incident Reports, 561 written Warning Notices, and 114 written Violation Notices have been issued. These violations are described in the spreadsheet. ..."

The spreadsheet was spread over 32 pages, and it went up only to July 3rd. Upon looking at it, I surmised that an "incident" was basically something the rangers observed, but did not give any pieces of paper to the people thought to cause the incident. These were mostly things like "leaving garbage in an unsanitary condition" or "unattended campfire". "Public assist", like helping someone get a car out of a ditch, was also always in this class. If they saw dogs running around loose, "dog off leash" was an incident, but if they gave someone a ticket, it was placed in the warning or violation column. But I saw a few entries that I thought were oddly called just incidents, like one incidence each of "attempted murder", "inciting to riot", "assault", and "manufacturing meth".

Right now I have only a laptop to write on and public library computers to internet with, and my scanner and my home computer with the OCR software are in a storage warehouse, so I have had to do the counting by hand and canít guarantee the accuracy. The total entries (either as IR, WN, or VN) for some select categories were:

384 - dog off leash
59 - public assist
50 - possession of marijuana
38 - trash left in exposed manner
36 - unauthorized structure (mostly from the first two days before the permit was granted)
34 - camping within 150í of stream
27 - resource damage
26 - unattended or abandoned campfire
24 - littering
21 - interfering with officer (almost always a violation, frequently in the midst of a bunch of vehicle and drug violations)
19 - being in a closed area
13 - "smoking without clearance" (I couldnít quite figure that one out)
13 - exposed human waste and toilet paper (10 on one day, July 1)
10 - campfire without permit (a ranger said he would be at the quarry between 10 and 12 every morning and issue campfire permits, which were required, for no fee. Info was told that there were a few mornings he wasnít there. Info didnít get cited for its lack of one.)
8 - inciting lawlessness
7 - minor in possession of alcohol
6 - public nudity
6 - kitchen within 300í of stream
4 - something wrong with the way a firepit was made
3 - latrine too large

The traffic citations were thus:

27 - not wearing seat belt
20 - license plate illumination light out
16 - tail or brake light out
12 - parking in no parking area
10 - careless driving
8 - headlight out
6 - no registration
5 - no driverís license
5 - riding on hood
4 - expired license plate
4 - no license plate
4 - riding in bed of pickup
4 - driving in violation of provisions
3 - excessive speed
3 - defective lighting
3 - no proof of insurance
2 - driving with suspended license
2 - open container of alcohol
1 - expired license
1 - driving off road

There were a few other interesting entries, like "operating vehicle - dragging clothes", "suspicious 350 gal tank below rd", "distributing printed material", "addressing communication of violence".

The body of the letter went on: "In addition, following are specific permit and operating plan noncompliance items that have been noted since our July 1, 2004 letter. ..."

"1. Clause 5 of the permit states, ĎNo soil, trees, or other vegetation may be destroyed or removed from National Forest System lands without prior written permission from the authorized officerí Upon inspection of an area identified as Kiddie Village, permit administrators found that a large amount of live aspen trees have been cut and removed to accommodate trails and camping spots." (I donít about "large number", but there was a portal in the trees at the end of the trail they trampled thru the sagebrush to get there from the dirt road.)

"2. Clause2 of the permit operating plan requires ĎTo reduce the risk of illness and discourage wildlife access to garbage, it will be removed from the site in a timely manner in accordance with State sanitation requirementsí Garbage at the gathering site has not been removed in a timely manner, nor has it been properly bagged. ...Large stacks of garbage, both open and in bags, continue to be stacked at central locations and have not been removed in a timely manner." (I saw piles of bags being built near Welcome Home that were shoulder high and 10 or 20 feet long. And they usually keep expanding until the 8th when the parking lot empties and people with large trucks can be found. And for a while there are piles of freshly emptied bag contents on the ground while people sort thru them and separate things out for recycling.)

3. "Our Notice of Noncompliance, issued on July 1, 2004, referenced an officer interference/intimidation event. Since that date, Forest Service law enforcement officers and some permit administrators have been subjected to interference, intimidation, and verbal abuse while they were attempting to conduct their duties..." (As I have already described, I saw this at a certain kitchen that was on Main Trail, not to mention all the six-ups that constantly accompanied the progress of any greenjean, LEO or resource, who entered the gathering.)

4 talked about the dogs off leashes, 5 the public nudity, and 6 the people who parked in undesignated areas, especially on the crowded days from the 2nd to the 4th. 7 told us, "There have been a substantial number of incidents of well-documented illegal drug use", and told us to "reference the enclosed spreadsheet", and 8 told us to look there for all the traffic violations.

The penultimate paragraph stated, "First, as our July 1, 2004 letter referenced, you signed the permit as the point of contact to work with the Forest Service. We have attempted to contact you on numerous occasions using the telephone numbers that were provided by you. We have been unsuccessful in making contact as of the date of this letter. We have provided information to you through the use of voice mail, faxed documents, and certified mail outlining our areas of concern. We have not received a response. Work is now beginning on cleaning up the authorized area and development and implementation of a rehabilitation plan. Although we have been working with gathering participants to accomplish resource work, it is imperative that you contact us so that we can discuss these permit issues with you." (As I have already mentioned, the permit applicant never showed up at the gathering.)

It closed by saying, "Second, a partial suspension of the special use permit was issued on June 29, 2004; please reference that letter. Compliance has been achieved, on the subject kitchen (Crystal Kitchen); therefore this is formal notice that the permit suspension has been lifted."

Lynn just passed out some copies of this letter to some waiting hands, then put the rest of the stack on the counter. We heard no further mention of this letter from any of the greenjeans after that.

(to be continued)

The Cold Easy Gathering - part 6

Every year the seventh of July is the first day of Vision Council. The basic purpose of this council is to decide what state or region next yearís gathering will be in, but it is also meant to be a place where people can just share their visions their ideas about where the Family is heading or should be going, and any other flashes of inspiration they have had that they think might be helpful. It starts each day at noon and continues until it is too dark to see each otherís eyes, continuing the next day and each day after until consensus is reached on where to go.

Consensus means unanimous agreement of all present, and one person can block consensus. A decision can not be made until the objections of that person have been addressed and remedied to that personís satisfaction. Since any subject can be justified in some way as a vision, the discussion can wander widely, and since anybody can block any decisions being proposed, it can take days until a decision is reached. I have never seen Vision Council end in one day, and the record I think is 11. There have been a few times when most of the people at the council had to leave to get back to their real lives, but had a sense of where most people wanted and told to it to all their friends, resulting in the gathering going there the next year - while a handful of stubborn holdbacks came to a different decision that everyone else ignored, and even tried to put on a rump gathering that only a few came to.

The first day of Vision Council this year started out being the final act of the Native American drama. It was in Main Circle around the Peace Pole. I arrived maybe fifteen minutes after the start, and saw two middle aged Indian women standing up in the circle, with the feather two people to the left of them. (The feather is always passed clockwise around a circle because it is said to be the way the Indians did it.). As the feather progressed, I deduced from some of the things being said that one of the women was Frances Denali, the tribal chairperson. The other I couldnít identify. The women had asked to speak last, after hearing everyone else.

Many thanked the women for coming and apologized for the troubles the Family had brought them. This was a special embarrassment to many, since Native American traditions are idealized and emulated in much Rainbow lore, from the council in a circle where a feather is passed to the smoldering bundles of sage to the teepees that many bring to camp in. Again some people criticized the scouts and seep camp people for not trying hard enough to contact the local tribes. These comments were intermixed with talk about where to have next yearís gathering, and lots of people expressed a desire to go to the east coast, since three of the last four had all been in the west, with the other in the Great Lakes.

Both women remained standing for about an hour, then Frances accepted a chair that was offered her while the other continued to stand. Neither showed any frailty because of age. They both kept poker faces thruout the meeting; only toward the end of their time there did I finally see some brief smiles.

For about two hours this was for the most part a smoothly running traditional Rainbow circle. There were few attempts to address the feather, and these were mostly ignored by the speakers. There were four interruptions from outsiders coming up to the circle, one who had an urgent three minute message that just had to be said (I forgot what it was), another who introduced the two Indian women and suggested that they should be allowed to speak (she was informed of their previous request to speak last), another who suggested that we move to a large tent a few hundred feet away (Gary said that he had been told by the people there that he was not welcome), and the steward of the peace pole wanted to remove it and pack it up as we were talking (it was requested that he return later).

Then the feather, after going about a third of the way around the circle, got to a person who started letting people address it, and some arguments erupted across the circle. I could feel the focus dissipate. At that time the Indian women indicated that they wouldnít have the time to stay for the whole council, and asked to finally speak. This request was immediately granted, after a brief wait for a few to quiet down.

Frances stood up and spoke, "Iíd like to thank you for welcoming me, and I accept your apologies. ...You move too fast for us. There are processes that we have to abide by too. Please recognize the next time that we have our own ways. We [the tribe] are a government. We have a right to this, our aboriginal land. This is the land of our forefathers. ...You are a young government, only 34 years old. ...Again I ask, please respect this land. Again, I accept your apologies."

The two women turned to go and the feather went on its way around the circle. One person started to criticize the scouts again, and Gary started interrupting. "I checked with John Erwin, and he told us there was no cultural significance to this place. He LIED to us..." Another brother got up and went over to where Gary was sitting (about another third of the way around from where the feather had stopped), and did something I didnít quite see, but it was enough to get Gary angry enough to hit him. Then people rose from all around the circle in a mass Shanti Sena.

Some people tried getting him to join them in various kinds of spiritual mumbo jumbo to calm him down, which only pissed him off more. "Get this wing nut out of my face." Someone tried laying his hands on him in some way, and Gary pushed him off abruptly and that started another fight, with lots of cries of "Donít touch me", and other people behind both of them pulling them apart. Finally it subsided to a few bunches of people talking in each otherís faces, and the others started returning to the circle. All of this went on while the Indian women were still there watching.

The feather started around the circle again and Gary sat down and behaved himself from then on. After several people Sailor got up and gave a speech that I think should have come when the Indian elders were still there. "There was one other person who came to scout with me, a brother from Michigan. We went to 20 places. I spent over $2,000 on gas. We narrowed it down to 3 places. We asked the Forest Service if there were any indigenous issues. Jim Erwin, the assistant manager for this forest, said Ďthere are no cultural or historical issues.í ...On June 11th we had a council with the Forest Service. Plunker had talked with Edie Asrow a few days before. Their Native American liaison didnít want to talk. ...The Pit River Indians were contacted, but I think they all work for the government. We contacted them in 1984. We got their chief in as far as the parking lot, and when he saw some sisters with their tits flapping out, he said to us, ĎTake me homeí None of them approved of our nudity and drugs."

He brought up the 2001 Idaho gathering, where the FS also brought in some Indians in the first days of July to object to a stream running thru the site where there were some salmon of an endangered species, then went on to say,. "I think this whole thing was rigged." He then repeated what he had started out with, "There were only 2 of us scouting. Why didnít any of you do it? ...I think we need to think outside the box. We should look into the possibility of using land that is not Forest Service, like Bureau of Land Management, Corps of Engineers, TVA..."

Maybe ten or so more people spoke, then the feather got to Gary, and he stood up for his final say. He alluded to No Guns, a Rainbow sister who was trying to stop a man from driving a truck right thru Main Meadow at the 1988 gathering in Texas. She stood in its path, and the man kept driving and hit her, sending her to hospital. "No Guns said after that, ĎI donít want there to be any retaliation" [She recovered, and didnít press charges against the man] "I respect No Gunsí stand. I donít mean to denigrate her for her courage and commitment. But I cannot forgive the Forest Service. They lie, they bring guns in here, they make promises they donít keep. You like the lies that are pretty and sweet. But let anybody try to show you the truth, and you all chastise and denigrate that person. ..."

"Now most of you know I bring a gun, but I keep it up in my van. I donít bring it down here into the gathering. ...You guys can do anything you want, but nobody who knows me well will ever say that I ever lied to them. Nobody who knows me will say that I ever let someone go away hungry...I am ashamed, I am embarrassed that so many of you are so gullible, so eager to be accepted, that you will accept any kind of deal with them. ...I wouldnít walk into a synagogue wearing a swastika on my arm. Yet you let them walk into my church with a gun on their hip. I wonít council with any man wearing a gun."

I left shortly after that, because things were now just repeating themselves among the remaining speakers and I was getting psychologically tired.

The gatheringís last day is "officially" the 7th, and those staying after that are expected to be helping with clean-up. Those who continue to hang around and be bliss ninnies soon find that a lot of people who have been soft-spoken up to the 7th suddenly turn into ogres on the 8th. All camps and kitchens are torn down and all people move their stuff to the parking lots. All traces of human habitation are, as we say it, "disappeared". As Rap 701 says, "Vanish all traces. When an area is clear and clean, scatter logs, branches, leaves to look natural." The kitchens stop serving inside the gathering, and either an existing kitchen in Bus Village becomes the clean-up kitchen or a new one is created there. Info is a temporary exception; Marken keeps it standing until Vision Council comes to a consensus.

I drove my van up to the top and parked by Marken on the morning of the 8th and counted all the change from the Magic Hat. We count just the dollars after the meals, reserving the change to be used during clean-up. It totaled $354.03, out of the grand total of $15365.03.

At mid-afternoon inside Info, I finally got to see the Edie Asrow whose name I had heard so many times in the days before, leading a meeting of resource rangers and Rainbows about clean-up. She was medium height and middle-aged, with just a touch of grey in her curly blond hair. She had a scrappy disposition and didnít hesitate to snap right back at verbal attacks. A brother said that he was a lawyer, and pulled out a portable recorder and said he was going to tape the meeting. Edie first requested that he not, and when the brother insisted she gathered up her things and started to walk out. "I am an individual and I have a right not to be recorded if I donít want to." Some other Rainbows persuaded the brother to give the recorder to Marken for safekeeping, and she stayed. A little later someone else asked if there were any LEOs with her, and she said, "Iíll have them come in and introduce them to you right now." This she did, then they went back outside to wait until she left.

She introduced Jayne Biggerstaff, who would be replacing Lynn Bidlack as permit administrator, then she went thru a standardized list and decided there were a few things on it that we neednít concern ourselves with. There was not much need to break up and scarify hard packed soil, the coming winter snows would soften it up. There was no need to remove and clean up after porta-potties. But she was concerned about abandoned dogs, and that the latrines and compost pits be filled in and left with a mound over them to compensate for settling. She wanted the wires lying on the ground by the fenceposts along the valley side to be raised again. (This involved putting them back between pairs of staples already driven into the fenceposts and dropping in a third one, an easy task.) Then she had us discuss water bars across the steepest parts of the trails. A few Rainbows asked if there would be a signed letter certifying that clean-up had been accomplished to her satisfaction, and she promised that there would be a "closing letter" signed by Jayne.

Then she brought up the cut aspen trees at Kiddie village. She said that she had been especially pampering them for the last few years, and was just beginning to have success. She said that a man with a grazing contract with the FS was going to bring some cows in on the 15th, and they were now going to be able to enter the grove where they would be able to eat the young aspen saplings. Previously the trees around the perimeter had been close enough together to prevent this, but now this barrier was broken. She said that the only solution she could see was to put a barbed wire fence around it. She recited the dimensions, multiplied them by three to get the total length of wire, then by the unit price to get a cost estimate of $2,000, which she asked the Family to pay.

This predictably brought some objections. Some asked why the whole Family should pay for the mistakes of a few. Edith said, "Now I have seen how some of you see those wads of used toilet paper on the ground, I think you call them ĎCharmin liliesí, and you bury them even when you didnít put them there yourselves. I am just asking that you take care of each other in the same way you bury each othersí Charmin lilies. This is a nice-nice, not an obligation, you all can decide how you see it as an individual." (She was familiar with Rainbow lingo and knew how to wield it sometimes.) Gary (he was mostly restrained at this meeting) said, "I just want to inform you, I told them myself not to put their kitchen there and I was told to go fuck myself." Sailor said, "There are lots of ways you can keep cows out of places. Iím a rancher." The discussion ended with an agreement for several people to look at the grove together the next day and come to a decision there. The meeting ended amicably. She said in closing, "I want us to be sure we do all we can to make peace with this valley."

I left the gathering the next morning, the 9th, and first drove north 20 miles to Alturas, where I found places to have the steak dinner and the two hour hot shower and just rest before heading south again the next morning for the 2000 mile drive to Oklahoma and the resumption of the rest of my life. (I put two thirds of my stuff in storage and the rest in my van on June 1st and left Lawrence, Kansas in search of less traffic and lower real estate prices.) I had reached a state of cumulative tiredness, and felt that leaving the clean-up crew an especially fat Hat was the best I could have done, and that was plenty.

Thus ended for me the Cold Easy Gathering, where attempts were made on all sides to build upon the beginnings of reconciliation with the Forest Service that were laid down at last yearís gathering in Utah - but where lots of left hands didnít know what right hands were doing, Forest Service officials contradicted other officials, and Family confounded other Family in trying to comply, resulting in much frustration and mistrust, but arisen out of ignorance and ineptitude more than deliberate malice. But the lines of communication remained open and so did the desire for it among most of the people involved, and I am reasonably confident that next yearís gathering will be another round of trials and errors that will progress us further toward the ultimate coexistence in peace that neither of us knows the exact form of yet, but is the only choice for all of us.

The story ends here
but the gatherings remain
(to be continued)

Ė Butterfly Bill

This post was the basis for the third chapter of Rainbow Gatherings, vol. 2.

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