Wildlife and New Home

How long does it take to make a space your home? 24 hours.

Went to a concert at the campground tonight. The concert was small, and sat by myself so that people would come up and sit by me. Met a woman who works for the Sacramento Conservancy, and she said that I could job shadow her anyday if I wanted.

Had a smore for the social aspect, snuck back to my tent and now alone, with a lantern, listening to the crickets, birds, cars, planes and motorcycles while reading.

It’s pretty much perfect. I wish I could live this way always.

All my things next to my sleeping bag. A little nook to slide into.

So twice a week now I get wifi at lunch. A whole hour. : )

This morning a big coyote ran right past us at our campsite. Never seen such a thing.

And then later, right before lunch, we’re digging up grass at another campsite, and I look down, and a black widow is right there on the rock in front of me. Big, shining body and all.

Last night we got to town around 6 pm, and then all split off. Actually, we all walked into this coffeeshop I wanted to go to, and then I saw everyone and walked about. Also I was so hungry because we have no food.

And then, two blocks later, run into George again, who I had just saw in the cafe and left five minutes earlier. So I invited him to dinner with me, and we went and got Chipotle. As we’re walking across the railroad tracks in the middle of town, “Oh. Only Annie. Only Annie looks both ways on a railroad in the middle of downtown.”

George started this thing called, “Analyzing Annie” recently. He didn’t really start it, he’s been doing it all year. But he put a name to it yesterday, as he was commenting on my real/fake laughs in the car.

I asked him at Chipotle why he always pays so much attention to me, how he notices all those little intricacies about me. He told me that I was different from everyone else, and that I am fascinating to him. And I wondered what it is about me that makes me so “different” from everyone else. Because I’ve definitely always felt that way, and a lot of people have said similar things to me in the past few years.

After dinner, I went to the cafe. drank a shitty Americano and talked on the phone to Bro. Then I met up with Ricky, and we walked downtown together. I was hanging with all the unexpected suspects tonight. Ricky reminds me of family as well– kind of like my dad. The way he talks about, “Oh. I got $5. Can spend it on anything in this gas station. What do I want? The possibilities for junk food are endless!” He looks just like me, too. Everyone is always saying we are twins… the fact that I cut his hair just like mine helps our similarity a lot, I’m sure.

We’re about to leave. Jess and Dre in the kitchen, “Where’s Annie?” “She’s over there, Obama-ing.”

Last night was questionable. Not going to go out for awhile after last night. I’ve had my fill of pushing my adventure boundary for a little while. After I was just talking about pushing it yesterday. Had dinner at a Japanese restaurant, went to a mystical gathering of people with Carinne, and then headed to the bar to meet Dre, Jess, Tony. And we all got a bit drunk, $2.50 pints.

Came home, and ate all the granola bars in the kitchen, the same granola bars I wouldn’t eat earlier in the day because they had soy in them. And then fell asleep under the stars. Actually slept really well, and really excited to sleep in that tent for the next two months.

So then today, woke up to a turkey gobbling right next to my head outside. They make hilarious noises. And they don’t leave you alone.

We started off with orientation with the tree foundation.

Three women gave us the orientation, and they were all super passionate, inspiring, and visionaries. It was empowering and they got us all excited. And fed us orange juice and donuts.

Did you know that trees intercept airborne particles and absorb pollution? Being around trees lowers Cortisol, or stress levels. The organization plants 20,000 trees in the city a year in people’s yards. Sacramento has one of the largest urban forests in the world, perhaps the largest. There are 100 types of trees that grow in this urban forest, most cities just have 6-8.

Variety is the key to life– don’t want that monoculture. Want diversity. Theme keeps reappearing in all the places we’ve been, people we’ve met. “Diversity, diversity, diversity is key!” And also organizations working together. Our first project we worked with Metro Native Plant Center, and two state parks in Oregon to complete one project that they were all working on together. Then in Willits we learned about why monoculture is super bad, and then also were realizing that just because you have variety in your plants isn’t enough. You need it in your people, too. And then here, we’re learning the same thing with trees– the more variety, the more resistant the forest is to disease.

But something that we haven’t really become intimate with yet, though it’s been in all of our projects, was community visioning. And god, these woman sold it. They were visionaries. They were visionaries with a plan. A plan that was being executed, slowly but surely.

In downtown Sac there is a bunch of modern street art, and the trees are painted purple. We noticed it the first night we were all here, when we went to get a drink at a pizza bar. While there, this guy comes up to me and my friend and says, you’re not from here. “What do we need to know about Sacramento? What’s happening here?”

‘All them trees, all them people!” The drunk guy started chanting this, and we just laughed and laughed. And have laughed about it all year. Because there was no on out downtown on a Saturday night, and there were not a significant tree population that we noticed.

But really. Learning over the past week or so, that this drunk guy was so right.

But the purple trees– we saw models of them in the tree people’s office today. And we asked if they were connected to the trees downtown. And they said, of course. They hired a performance artist from around the world to come and paint the trees with his special paint, to draw attention to deforestation.

It was supposed to wash away after a year, but it’s still there. And it’s still making the newspapers.

I am not doing justice to writing about them– they were just super cool and a little bit radical. Or a lot radical. They are working on putting trees in low income areas, and we’ll be helping with that. So in a way it is a bit of social as well as environmental justice. It’s all one.

Got back to camp around 11, and started our orientation with Matt, the head of the Sac Conservation agency, who also lives on the property we’re staying on.

We had an inspiring few hours with him and the visionary for the camp project here— I’m really tired right now so I don’t think I can write about it. But I have lots, lots, lots to write. I took lots of notes, and got lots of good vibes. xxx

And then we spent the rest of the day cleaning up the campsite, and organizing things. He wants us to focus on making the campsites better for the next few weeks, so that we can enjoy the rewards of our work while we’re here. And then we will move onto longer term projects.

But while we’re cleaning the campsite, we find the skunk. It was under a log.

But now the campsite looks great. And we also cleaned the vans, kitchen, etc.

We cleaned all day, had a debrief around the campfire at our new log and stump benches, and then we had PT- did a relay race with bananas. Sticking them under our armpits, between our legs and rolling across the lawn with them in hand. Odd, but funny. The sunshine was absolutely amazing.

And then we had an amazing dinner– they did a great job and had it ready early.

Then I walked down the hill from our camp. It’s a steep drop, a half minute walk, and you’re on the beach. Sand on the beach, right along the American river.

Across the street you see camps and tents. The only legal camp is ours, and then one outside of town. So all the tents that you look across at on the other side of the river are people without homes. We are living a life similar to them right now. Obviously we are still very privileged to have running water and a bathroom and shower, but we are all sleeping in the open night air.


Sometimes people wander into our camp, but not very often. They had a team here last year, and someone’s tent was “broken into” but nothing was stolen.

Our water tastes a bit like blood. Or a lot. It’s super high in iron. So maybe I won’t be getting rid of the Britta water filter after all.

Anyway. After dinner I went out and sat on the dock on the river and read a bit in the sun, and the sounds of the water. It was wonderful.

And then I talked to family, took a shower and now here I am.

I think I’m going to go read in my tent with a lantern, now.

Maybe not, though. Going to peek out and see if the team is back yet. Everyone went to town except for me tonight.



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