My Wild Night at Trujillo Meadows, Colorado
At the end of the day after my first attempt to make the essence of Chiming Bells, I relaxed and made some comfort food to celebrate my efforts and the beauty of the area where I was camping. I wrote this account after a wild night of rain, thunder, a late rising moon and strange events.
Part 1 – Monday, July 9, 2001
The day dawned early and bright with an empty sky. Last night was another story. After my quiet time at the meadow where the deer appeared yesterday afternoon, I returned to my campsite ready to party. After washing up my essence bowls and utensils, I got out the popcorn, olive oil, garlic, butter and salt. As I lit the stove, I announced loudly to the forest, “ I’m making this popcorn for all of us.” The corn popped cleanly and filled up my three quart saucepan. I poured the melted butter and minced garlic over it and “Voilà!” It was time to celebrate!
I sat in the driver’s seat of the car, closing out the skeeters and the rain and popped my Al Harris tape in the cassette deck. I hummed and swayed and ate my popcorn while the sky thundered and birds chattered as they searched for cover. I only stopped once to bring in my basil plant when it started to hail.
The sky stayed dark and thunder rolled throughout the afternoon and evening, but there was a break in the storm around eight o’clock and enough daylight to go watch the birds down at the Trujillo Meadows reservoir. I drove down there and hung out with the robins and flycatchers for a while, then I came back to go to bed. No fire tonight. It was going to be a wet one.
No sooner did I climb into the tent than the rain started up again. Just a few spare drops at first, then some thunder and lightning, and pretty soon, there was a steady drumming on the tent fly. I made some notes for the next day’s trip to town and then snuggled into my sleeping bag. I stared at the flashes of light for a while, and then closed my eyes, but the thunderclaps increased in frequency and volume, and I began counting the seconds between the light and the sound.
If my eyes were closed when the lightning flashed, I saw a bright white image of my retina reflected on the back of my eyelid. Sometimes the thunderclaps would come in a series of reverberations, rolling over each other with such intensity that the last one was like a bowl of sound that surrounded me and made the earth shake as it rolled over.
Aware that my tent was located in a circle of tall pines, I finally thought it best to flee to the car for protection. I had emptied the front seat for that very reason, and now I sat there in the dark, watching the light show in the forest. When it wasn’t lit up, the forest was pitch black, the blackest it had been since I started my trip. I sat up and waited.
When the storm seemed to be moving off and not right over my head, I climbed back into the tent. The thunder and lightning went on through the night, accompanied by light rain, the snapping of twigs and falling debris, and the constant tumble of the nearby stream. In the early morning hours, the moon became visible through the trees and I began to hear a new sound.
Part 2 – same night
I thought I heard voices, very faint, and some music. I couldn’t distinguish words, just intonations, and the music was a steady flow of some kind of hillbilly music with banjo and harmonica. Maybe I’d heard a car pull off the road above me. I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t seen any headlights. The logical explanation was that someone had pulled off the road and left their radio blaring. But the music went on and on. I was humming it in my head. I finally peeked out the door of the tent, but I couldn’t see anything. And in fact, when I sat up, I couldn’t hear the music either. Only when my head was on the pillow.
I began to think the music and voices were coming from the stream – that there were spirits who lived here and they were reliving some event that happened long ago. The acoustics are very strange near rushing water. It seemed the vibrations of the stream were being carried through the ground to my head laying on the pillow. Not a steady flow, it was more tumultuous, producing a cacophony of sound. I had no idea how this rush of water over rocks was producing folk music in my ears.
When I couldn’t explain it, my mind went to more bizarre territory – scenes from old horror movies and ghost stories. What if there was someone in a car nearby and he was demented and he was just psyching himself up to come and do something horrible to me. I reached for the hammer and put it next to my pillow. I picked up my medicine bag and held it to my chest. “Who needs a vision quest?” I thought, “I have enough demons circling overhead right here in the tent.” I prayed for protection, even if it was only from my own mind . “If I’m going to have auditory visions,” I thought, “why can’t I hear a chorus of angels? Why does it have to be hillbilly music?” As the night wore on, my consciousness faded into the sleep realm where further adventures awaited me.
I dreamed that I woke up in the morning and standing before me in my campsite was the hillbilly maiden looking like a subdued Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music. She was whistling the melancholy tune from the morning before.
As my dreams went on, I found myself in a room with three women. One of them was Allison, a good friend who died very young in the early seventies. We were engaged in a therapy session together. Each woman had to answer the question: “What is the one thing you want more than anything else in the world right now?” Allison wanted to go to Africa, a long time wish of hers. We were moving around the group towards me. But there was no way I could possibly say what I wanted. I was madly in love. All I wanted at that moment was to be lovers with Allison, then go with her to Africa or wherever the hell she wanted to go. I felt like a deer in the headlights, totally helpless before this radiant being. But the dream ended before my turn came around.
Next thing I knew, I woke up to a calm blue sky and the quiet of a peaceful morning. I was alone. No Allison, no demented psychopath, no hillbilly maiden – just me. And a fresh new day began.