December 20 (1975, 1976, 1979, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2003) “It's about impossible...”

12/20/75   still another clear and sunny day. near the solstice ~ soon the days will be lengthening. the solstice is the real beginning of the new year. and christmas is perhaps but a façade for the celebration of the solstice, the waxing of the solar light that nurtures all life; or, more classically stated, the sun that infuses all life with its energy ~ and the earth nurtures that life-energy.

went out to canyonland the day before yesterday ~ it's so beautiful. i feel a kind of desperation, because i want to live out there, and make my home there, but i am afraid of the possible eventual development of moody ridge, and want to acquire as much land as possible, to insulate myself from the sight and sound of that development. my dad horrifies me with casual plans to log as much as he can out there, and even more with ideas of putting in roads here and there, to open up building sites in the canyon. that would be terrible, and if he goes ahead with any of those road-schemes i will be very much at odds with him. now, the optimum reality as i see it now would be for him to trade all of the lower and steeper land—about two hundred and forty acres—to the forest service. the forest service has been studying the canyon in terms of including it in the national wild and scenic rivers classification ~ and if they go that way, they might be interested in trading for my dad's land in the canyon, especially since the green valley trail goes through it.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/20/76... so tomorrow is the winter solstice ~ and 'tis very close to new moon as well. interesting that the sun and moon reach conjunction at their most diminished stages ~ on the day of least sunlight (northern hemisphere) in the year, also the least moonlight... [...]

i have a little friend with me right now, a black-and-white kitten. while mushing around in my head the past few days to the effect that i should be more connected to my feelings, and make more effort in relationships, as a kind of symbolical move i've made friends with this little cat. the other night, instead of being hardhearted and putting the cat out before going to bed, i let it stay in, even tho i knew it had fleas and would sleep on my bed somewhere. just as i was falling asleep, and i was mushing along in my head about my feelings, the thought of Kirpal Singh crossed my mind. at that very instant the kitty leaned over my face and began licking my forehead right over my ‘third eye.’ a bit of synchronicity.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/20/79  dawn. greg and susan are downstairs, came up a couple of days ago. we [...] went to big valley bluff with neil and susan to hunt for crystals and look at the view. i found some incredible quartz crystals.


the burn is down to a large scab in the center of the original area. feels a lot better.

what will I do for christmas ~ doesn't matter.

[Russell Towle's journal]

December 20, 1985

Early morning. I woke to find eight deer resting in the yard below the cabin. Several does and two pairs of fawns. Some of them are still there. I witnessed touching scenes between does and their fawns, the mothers licking and grooming their young, the fawns sidling up close and nuzzling their moms. Two of the fawns are still lying down. The others have begun to forage.


The work Dave and Al and I have done on the road has been negated by Harry Binder's backhoe, which has rendered into a pile of slushy mud which is nearly impassable to my Toyota. Hmmm, that sentence sure didn't hold together! Neither did the road. [...]

I should do my laundry today, and? Sort out my zonohedra papers and get organized to write. Cut firewood. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/20/86   Night. A wonderful sunny day; it must be close to the winter solstice now. I watched the patterns of sunlight in the meadow, the stripes. And am very very pleased with having made the decision to go ahead and take out the trees in the Alcove; now I'm becoming more and more tempted to finish the Knoll in one fell swoop.

I would like to see the sunlight patterns now, at the solstice, after the pines up there come out.


If I could see the patterns now, I would be able to observe the complete sequence between now and summer solstice, which is equivalent to the whole year, and perhaps finalize plans to build an office in the meadow somewhere. An office with telephone and electricity. An office with some degree of solar heating. Maybe in the upper meadow, which is the part affected by the doomed pines on the Knoll


The marvelously round boulder atop the Knoll has good Stonehenge properties; from the Meadowstone, winter solstice sunrise is aligned with Roundrock; and winter solstice sunset aligns Roundrock and the big cedar, fog shrouded, the Lonecedar at the southern end of the meadow.

Mars has overtaken Jupiter and moved past to the east.

It is already farther away from Jupiter then it was last Thursday.

Yes, to go ahead now and finish the Knoll is extremely appealing. But I have no money, hence no food, hence no gas or oil for the saw, whimper whimper. Or don't I? Could I just pretend I do? I have a little gas, a little oil; my chain is dull; should I go ahead and do it?”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/20/87   Sunday morning; cold but clear, and the sun begins to take the chill's harder edges off, within the cabin…

It's been a while, dear diary: I find the previous entry dated 12/12/87, find it concluding that I would walk into Dutch flat in search of Alex, in search of a jump-start for the beleaguered Toyota. I walked… And by happy chance, found Ed & Tina just pulling into Alta; Ed gave me the jump, and proposed that I ride down to Berkeley with them, pick up his secretary's Fiat, and drive it back up here. Which I did. Ed has very generously bought me a car! A '79 Fiat Strada; [...] It is a very clean machine, compared to the Toyota. I hope to keep it that way.

Ed sponsored a few repairs, which dragged on for a few days, so I was down there for a while, watching the 49ers blowout the Bears, feasting my eyes upon the books in Moe's and the Shakespearean bookstore.


Drove back up on Thursday, enjoying a view of the Crystal Range and other parts of the Sierra crest from as far afield as Davis, and further, stopping to show off the Strada to Alex in Colfax. [...]

The Strada has but a few things wrong with it; a sticking choke, a sagging headliner, a broken seat-lever-thingy; but it is basically sound. Front-wheel drive: so it should do well in the snow.

I am more than a little low on funds at the moment, with six dollars to my name; with some good weather, I will be able to get some [work hours] in.

Later; Matt just stopped by, with a girlfriend… That is, Matt Joyce; invited me out for some cross-country skiing, but I demurred. The day looked too cold and gloomy, for high clouds had swept in after a clear beginning; plus, I have a broken ski-pole basket.

Later; although I dislike bitching and moaning in these pages, contrary to the impressions they might leave upon a given reader, perhaps most or all readers, I must say that I am rather completely fed up with life in Dutch Flat. People of like mind are few; and the beer-swilling, methedrine-popping rednecks and destitute crackers are the predominant social element. Dutch Flat has gone radically downhill over recent years. Add to this the problems presented by having my father as next-door neighbor, and I'm ready to call it quits. I was ready five years ago, but the development of relationships with Bill Newsom and Ed & Tina took the edge off my dissatisfaction.

Now Ed has bought me a car; and my immediate goal becomes to earn and save money; money to relocate. The additional option: sell this property. The bottom line: it's hard to imagine what change could induce me to remain here.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/20/88   Morning, dripping, fog-shrouded […]

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 16:43:32 -0800
To: "Ian Baker"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: logging

Apparently the logging in dutch flat is happening... i didn't think it would, but it is...

Yep. It's about impossible to stop a timber harvest on private property. We tried, slowed it down, changed the logging method to helicopter, but didn't stop it.

Have you seen the SPI clear-cuts on Sawtooth Ridge? Very nasty. Undoubtedly many more to come, unless we can get clear-cutting banned in CA.

I hiked into Canyon Creek waterfalls today, very nice. I'd like to get your Ecology Club in there and get you guys to sign a petition asking BLM to acquire the private inholdings etc.

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