As he stared into the canyon, he suddenly recalled that his family had once fished in the same hole after they had first moved to Fresno in 1971, a fishing trip that he had forgotten for nearly thirty-five years, probably because he was only eleven or twelve at the time and the place was new to him then--just a river where they had spent a lazy afternoon.
The river at that time was low enough for a child to cross, and since he had been bored, he decided to examine the smooth stone on the opposite side, sure that he would discover something that he could boast about to his brother and his parents. A deeper, nameless desire motivated him, however: the stone attracted him because it seemed familiar in some way. He carefully examined every inch of the gray stone striated with white, sure that he would find something--until he finally plopped down, confused by his lack of success. His brother, who had also crossed the river, called to him, wanting him to follow into a strip of forest at the bottom of the canyon next to the river. He ignored his brother, however, still certain that the stone held a mystery that he just had not yet figured out. Suddenly, he noticed a crack in the stone and realized that a knife must be hidden there, covered with humus. Elated and never so sure of anything in his life, he dug out the humus, finding nothing.
A voice in his head suddenly stated, “Native Americans.” He had heard the voice once before in the same watershed a few months earlier, at the foundation of a house in the river bottom.
Startled and confused, he started a dialogue in his head, “I don’t know anything about Native Americans! What do you mean?” His elation had suddenly turned to disappointment and frustration, and he wondered why the voice had not said “Indians” instead of “Native Americans,” a term which seemed unusually formal.
“You will find out what it means,” the voice replied.
“When? Tell me, please!” he pleaded in his head.
His mother noticed how agitated he had become. “What’s the matter?” she asked.
Being only eleven or twelve, he couldn’t find the right words to explain what had just happened, which made him even more exasperated. “Nothing,” he responded. “I just thought I was going to find something, but I didn’t.”
“What did you think you were going to find?” his mother asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “A knife maybe, or something Native American.”
“You mean Indian? Where did you hear about ‘Native Americans’?” she asked. “What makes you think there’s something like that here?”
“I don’t know. I was just sure I would find something.” Realizing that she didn’t understand what it meant either, he felt even more frustrated, almost on the verge of tears, suddenly dashing off into the forest to find his brother.
“Watch out for the bears!” his father called.
Just past the edge of the forest, he stopped abruptly, feeling like he had just crossed into forbidden territory. The forest was overgrown, but he struggled forward a few feet, terrified, thinking that he saw a trail ahead. “Hey, come back,” he yelled to his brother. “Watch out for the bears! Watch out for the bears!” In response, he heard only the rushing of the river and felt strangely alone, suddenly realizing that he was only a few feet from the river bottom and his parents.
Years later, he stumbled upon a pounding stone as he was wondering alone in the foothills east of Fresno, and he spent the next two decades, in his free time, following Native American trails to ancient village sites in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, primarily in the watershed of the Kings River, even finding a few pounding stones that resembled the stone in the floodplain of the North Fork of the Kings River.
Open a door to a subtle plane.
Meet a person sitting under a tree.
Meet the Magician.