October 5 (1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 2005)
Nostalgia of Fall

10/5/76 ~ tuesday. sunny. yesterday i finished the window for wall six, and may take it out and frame it in today. all yesterday i was tired and queasy. today i feel a little better… […]

i feel old, worn out. i should go out to the ridge to camp for a few days, and nail up siding. i'm really not so very far from closing it in. but i have to borrow money to do it. and of course at any time the building inspector could come out and red tag me… then what? what i really could use is someone to help me. so many tasks could be done radically faster with two than just one alone. i should go out and camp. but it is cold at night now. and i have so little to eat. [...] this is what i want, what i've always wanted. my own land, and to build a cabin on that land.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


10/5/77   wednesday morning. the days have been clear and warm, and a haze has settled on the sierra hereabouts that grows thicker by the day. i will be continuing on the snow fencing [thin, weatherstained wood as interior paneling] today, after a six-month interlude…

later… it continues to grow hazier, and the winds blowing up out of the canyon seem stronger today. there is an occasional flurry of douglas fir needles, pine needles.

i'm not satisfied with many features of my wood stove set-up. the stack should be a couple of feet higher at least. The thimble should not touch wood. or replace with masonry—perhaps a project for next summer.

my building-inspector fears have run strong the past couple of days. i nag at myself for my haste which has led me into building a cheap, non-code, cabin—which i love very much. tho it has an inadequate foundation—which i intend to improve substantially—and rather wide floor joists centers, in most other respects, save the stove installation, it is well-built to and entirely adequate.

the moon wanes on ~ a full eclipse of the sun approaches, a week hence, may skies be clear. i see few people, staying out here at my cabin all the time, but i love it. i am excited by its proximity to completion. so back to the snow fencing. trimmed two corners yesterday with redwood. i would like to get redwood shingles—or shakes—to cover the exterior.

[Russell Towle's journal]


October 5, 1985

Morning. Yesterday I worked at the McClung's [...]

Having skipped breakfast (no food in the cabin) and lunch, at 1:30 I went to Gold Run for tortillas, and ended up sitting in the cafĂ© drinking coffee and chatting with Don Parrish, the owner. Gail R. Stopped in to see me, and I went out to her and Steve's place [...] Later Gail and I went to Smart's Crossing and swam, Gail after much nervous prevarication and agonizing and questions: “If my heart stops (from the cold water) will you jump in and rescue me? Do you know life-saving? Okay. Get closer to the edge, in case you have to jump in. Do you know mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? CPR? You do? That's good, I just wanted to be sure… Okay. I'm really going to do it this time—a flat dive—is that rock down there—how close is it to the surface? No that one—see where I'm pointing? Oh, it's that deep? Okay, I'm going to count to five—here goes—and I'm really going to do it—here goes—one… two… Are you ready to jump in if I have to... get closer! Do you see that other rock—No that one—”

Finally she dove in and immediately splashed back to the edge. The water is bitterly cold. I had done the same—practically dove out as fast as I dove in. We walked around a little and returned to Steve's where I had dinner with them.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


10/5/86   [...]

Evening; just returned from a walk around the meadow, where much time was spent debating the merits of further clearing on the Knoll. It has long been planned. But there is a certain nakedness about so much open space, not just a subjective sense but a reality of wind-swept mountain-top at the edge of the great canyon.

Nostalgia struck while up there wading through the grasses and ferns—‘there was the spot I longed to clear back in ‘75, and now I can hardly imagine the ceanothus bushes that were once tangled atop it’—that kind of thing, along with mournful, really mournful reflections upon my failure to find anyone to share this wonder with me. My hopes were so high, back then, and little did I guess that utter failure would be my lot. A failure that weighs heavy, a failure that is garlanded with successes too, but still, an intolerable loneliness. But why bitch about things.

It's just that 10 years is a long long time. And it's sad to have wasted so much life energy upon the women I (mistakenly) fixed upon. I sometimes think that I have a unique set of values. Oh, forget it. Dear diary, please forget it. My sadness is a typical sadness. This world is a typical world. The universe is a tough place.

Later. Just returned from another visit to the meadow. The stars are out in all their plenitude, with several planets conspicuously visible—Jupiter is extremely bright. the north wind sighs through the pines, and I sigh, with nostalgia; and it occurs to me once again, as it did recently, that I am saying goodbye to my cabin. Tonight I walked a little ways up the trail and paused to look back and see the glow cast out from my windows onto the trees.

Am I saying goodbye? Or just waking up from a long dream? There is also the nostalgia of fall, ready-made, built-in, the northeast wind dragging warmness and dryness into the state, dragging clear air overhead, letting sun shine warmly and geese fly quickly, quickly south, and of course, nostalgia, in the fall. And the colors are especially good this year.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


10/5/87   Monday morning. Gay swung by here Saturday afternoon, and invited me out to her place to help her and Gary put up a water-tank-tower, which I duly did, visiting their house for the first time: a rather bizarre, home-built mountain cabin, ponderosa pine poles sunk into the ground, chain-sawed planks siding it all [...] Other friends of theirs arrived, and we speedily accomplished the task. I ended up having a nice conversation with a fellow named Richard, who lives in Colfax.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


Errata and Addenda
[North Fork Trails blogpost, October 5, 2005:
http://northforktrails.blogspot.com/2005/10/errata-and-addenda.html ]
With regard to recent messages I have sent, I have these additions and corrections.

1. Helicopter logging near Blue Canyon: part of Tahoe National Forest's fuel load reduction project, spanning lands from near Blue Canyon over across upper Fulda creek and Forest Road 19. Not Siller Brothers' planned harvest at Lost Camp. The bomb has not yet dropped at Lost Camp.

2. Lands at Gold Run have not yet sold. I talked with Alan Ehrgott of the American River Conservancy, which has been working to make land purchases at Gold Run. He is in contact with the owners of the 800 acres, and has obtained a letter from them specifying they are willing sellers, important for Alan to proceed in getting grants. He says, tho, that the owners have "dangled before him" the current offer by the "aggregate miners."

3. Many names are scratched into the ca. 1965 footbridge at Euchre Bar. One is that of my friend Robert Johnson, author of the book "Thirteen Moons," which describes a year he lived in Green Valley in the early 1980s. Ostensibly trying to be "just one of the guys," Rob adopted a nickname while in Green Valley. And on the Euchre Bar Bridge's west railing you can find the words "Rattlesnake Cutthroat Johnson," and beneath that, in quotes, just as here, "he likes ice cream."

Rob always did have a great sense of humor.

That's all for now.



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