August 17 (1977, 1986, 1987, 2004)
Thumpings in the Night

8/17/77   high clouds move up from the south. wildfires all over california, a huge one in big sur.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

8/17/86   Morning. Just wanted to observe that the California ground squirrels who nest around here love the big oak for roosting purposes. And I love to watch them. They used to remind me of Valdemar, since he had a special thing for ground squirrels. They seem so, well, mild-mannered. When they climb a tree to their perch, I get no feeling of aggressive twitchy territoriality; they amble up the trunk to one of their two favorite perches, and take up position looking out, so calmly, like little Squirrel Buddhas. Because they sit very still and inscrutable. There are no fireworks in this display. Just a slow ramble up the trunk and a settling into position. [...] Now two ground squirrels are sitting together at one perch.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

8/17/87   [...]

The sun was setting, a very reddish light glazed the far canyon rim, when loud thumpings were heard, not unlike the thumpings and bumpings of night creatures beneath my cabin. I determined upon sneaking out to the porch and leaning down to catch a glimpse of one of these ~ denizens. I was doing just that when the crackle of nearby leaves startled me and I looked up to see Tim's dog, Taffy, standing nearby. It was she who'd thumped. No sign of Tim: she was out on a walk. I brought her some water to drink, sat with her a while, petted her. She is very old, in dog terms, and has only a very few years at most left on earth. Sad to read of Shelley's death, sad to see Taffy's so clearly impending. I decided to walk her up to Tim's. I remember the day Tim got her, found her at Black Forest outside Nevada City. The date? Probably summer of '74. Such a good dog, very very good. My companion on many walks. Tonight, one more.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Euchre Gorge

August 17, 2004

Squeezing into the bit of shade on the ledge, Ron Gould (foreground), Cindy Goldman,
Catherine "Canyon" O'Riley, and Russell Towle. Photo taken by Gregory Towle.

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