Book Excerpt

"The Sky Clad Sages"

In the excerpt below  there are two women who met each other while camping in solitude, naked, in the Hawaiian jungle preserve of Kohala.   Carressa, whose origin is mysterious, and who is obviously very old, is relating her story to the young American woman named Artemis.  Carressa’s  story is long, meandering, and curiously begins with the Mitochondrial Eve, whose name was //Tlili (the two //’s indicate clicks in humanity’s most ancient language).  This ‘Eve’ was born in the remote Paleolithic, and is the last common female ancestor to all of humanity. . .


Carressa sat in silence looking at the fire. The old woman let herself be caught, again, by the ancient hypnotic dance of campfire flames moving and flickering among embers. Then she looked up across the fire at Artemis, a modern girl with her young eyes, green and shinning, and her pert American voice, yet the naked girl was so obviously aware of that larger wild joy.  A billion years of evolution had gone by on this earth, and fire was throwing orange light on yet another young breast waiting for its turn to fill with milk.   It was a wellspring of hope for Carressa, tired old soul.  She murmured, “And I find it comforting that early humanity had the Baobabs watching over them.  Those trees can live thousands of years.  They are like sentinels of eternity.”

Carressa continued, “//Tlili has related many other early childhood memories; such as her first taste of tsamma melon, or the rhythm and drumming of sticks during the dances that followed a successful hunt.

//Tlili especially remembered the fragrance of cardamom and baobab flowers after the rains, and she remembered the fruit bats, silhouetted against the stars, creaking and barking as they flew from branch to tree top branch to gorge on fruit.

Not that there weren’t bad memories:  There was the ancient disquieting laughter of hyenas, and the fierce eyes of the hunters when they came home hungry.  Or the row of many of her friends and cousins lying dead in the wet grass after a time of sickness and fever.

I don’t know if life was worse then or now.  But, there were no nuclear bombs then, no stupidly conceived civilizations.  Angst was fairly nonexistent.  And we certainly belonged on the earth.  But there were dangerously too few humans, it was hard to make it out of childhood, and most of the people didn’t live much past forty, because primitive life and sickness could of course be –horrible.

//Tlili would be the first to be honest about it.  As she once said, “What is beautiful about the brute ferocity of the lion as she kills and eats you, or the Hyena that will eat those too infirm to flee, a bite at a time; eating them slowly, long before it kills them?  Or the foulness and horrible pain when a parent pulls a worm as long as one’s leg out of their child‘s foot.  Or what is beautiful about the squirming mass of white worms that came out of young Lialia’s bowels during her last night alive while she sat in her squirming filth, shitting and puking at the same time?”

Yet Artemis, how can modern humans honestly judge the good life?  Truly.  One in ten of you Americans, mostly women, are so bloody depressed that you need antidepressant medication just to get by.  Yet, when at the edge of survival //Tlili, the mother of our race, easily found the baobab, and salvation.  And she found it when she was but a tiny child.  I think we cannot judge the good life very easily, but we can extinction, and the extinction of our own race we tend to take personally.   In the danger she faced //Tlili had some things in common with us, in that the race had continued more or less successfully for many thousands of years before her, and many thousands of years after her, but during her time, like ours, it was different; the fate  of humanity hung in the balance, as it seems to now.  How did she cope, and how did she personally come through the tunnel, as it were?  Don’t misunderstand me Artemis; I don’t think we are facing the extinction of our species as she was, but we are facing the rather probable cataclysmic death of billions of us, and we are facing the extinctions that we are causing, of millions of our fellow earthly species.

        So to continue: 

Like most of us //Tlili’s earliest formative memories were mostly random, and they hold no story.  //Tlili’s story only really starts with the shaman woman, Naia.-

Gathering food and herbs with Naia was the centre of //Tlili’s childhood.  As //Tlili grew Naia (who always seemed to have been old) slowly withered and became shabby with years; she was the tribes oldest member, and she was gentle, and sweet as a dried fig.  In the later eras of //Tlili’s life she could always remember Naia vividly:   The old woman’s one bright eye, and the other eye that was blue with cataract, – the wrinkled belly and buttocks, the flat dusty breasts, the gnarled feet as tough and strange as ostrich feet, and her beautiful creased hands with velvety soft fingertips.

Naia was the clan’s human window to the spirit world.  Spirits were a fairly well developed concept among //Tlili‘s people.  Beliefs about the supernatural in other hunter gatherer cultures were and are different, but humans seem to have had belief and interest in the supernatural starting from at least the dawn of homo sapiens, though in widely varying degrees.

For Naia’s part, although she was generally kind, when there was great suffering she tended to become quiet and remote, and then it was often a mystery what she was thinking.  Which reminds me, she was the only one of the people who N!lkua, the clan’s Big Man and //Tlili‘s father, differed to.  I will tell you about him in a moment.

The first important full memory of //Tlili’s was when she was still a small child, maybe seven years old.  There was a day when the clan had moved camp to a lightly forested hill country next to the savanna, and //Tlili and Naia were out with a large antelope skin bag gathering mongongo nuts, a staple of the clan.  Back in the mid Paleolithic humans were always as naked as we are.  At that time humans were only in eastAfrica, and they had not yet often taken to clothes at all, but long ago, much earlier, they had found uses for animal skins.




mongongo nuts


So they were out, under the sun, and //Tlili danced around gathering handfuls of nuts that had fallen to the ground. She’d found that rolling the smooth lumpy wood in her hand created a pleasantly ticklish feeling on her palm, and a soft crunchy click as she rubbed them together.

“Naia mam the bag is almost full.  When it is full shall we go back?”

“No //tlili bird, the others are still gathering.  We have time, and I want to examine the brush in this ravine.”

“What are you looking for Naia mamy //na?”  The girl‘s voice, between and with the clicks, had a rolling sing song lilt.

Typically the women gathered food, and the men hunted.  The women were spread out within earshot, and the two strongest women, one of which one was //Tlili’s mother, had spears.

“I don’t know till I see it.” whispered the old woman.

They finished filling the bag, and leaving it next to the trunk of a mongongo tree they walked to where the land fell off steeply into a ravine that was thick with bushes and scrub trees.  Naia backed carefully down into the side of the ravine while holding onto handfuls of brush to avoid slipping. The girl followed attentively; she was careful to avoid patches of jin claw bushes with their barbed thorns.

Unlike Hawaii, Artemis, which evolved without foraging land mammals Africa’s plants, particularly in the savanna, have every sharp, pronged, or poisonous defense that you can imagine.

At any rate the mid afternoon passed as the girl struggled to follow Naia through the close bushes of the ravine. The air was still, and under the afternoon sun they both became slick with sweat, scratched, and itchy.  Naia looked intently about, then she smiled,

“There! That’s a clump of natal flame bushes, and they’re still in flower.”

//Tlili looked at the limp waxy leaves and the drooping red bird tongued flowers of a natal bush, “What are they for?”

“They aren’t for anything I don’t suppose, but there is a grub that I am looking for that likes them.

Ayyee, what louse has done this?  Fools!” Naia hissed, “to get the grub they have killed the bush.  Erectus probably did it.”

Looking closer //Tlili saw that something or someone had girdled several of the bushes; most of the bark was removed around the bases.

“And here is one, though; a wetchla.” Naia said.  Smiling wanly she picked at the raw inner trunk and held up a small distinctly purple grub for //Tlili to look at.

//Tlili was astonished, “Purple wetchla!?  It cures the yellow fever?”


“I thought purple wetchla was made of vocan//ka bark”

“No.  That’s what I’ve told the clan, but it’s dried grub paste, and this is the first wetchla grub I have seen in a long time.  When I was a girl and old Tsi//lo was medicine woman we found these bushes and the grub regularly, but for more seasons then I would care to count they have been so rare that where I now find them I keep it a secret.  I think another clan has found this clump of natal bushes, and recently.”

“Then how have you had so much paste.  You have been able to cure so many of the yellow fever.”

“Actually many have died,” said Naia.

“k!tki and cousin Klluka this rainy season.  It’s true,” said the girl sadly, “but not N!lkua, my father.”

“He is strong as a water buffalo, and whether I like it or not I have the healer’s touch.  Some are healed whatever of the spirit herbs I use, if it’s not poisonous.  But I know this lowly little grub is infused with a hot spirit, like an ember, and it always cures the fever.  If I had real wetchla three moons back K!tki and Klluka would not have died.”

//Tlili looked at the little purple grub.  It was powerful indeed to stop the Fevers.  Klluka had been a lively boy, and she had loved the girl K!tka.  K!tka had loved to laugh, and she and //Tlili had held each other to keep warm on cold nights.  //Tlili looked intently at the medicine woman, “I want to be a great shaman like you Naia.  I want to learn all the medicines, all the secrets.”

“You may have the healer’s touch child, but the main thing is to be fully awake.  Even in your dreams.”


“So she had a herb that cured malaria?” said Artemis

“Yes, and it was a very virulent strain of malaria, older and more widespread among primates then the new strain that developed at the dawn of agrigarian times.”

        ”Naia shouldn’t have kept it a secret.  She should have educated the people so they wouldn’t over harvest it.”

        “In a more sociable time that might have worked within a clan, but it certainly wouldn’t work with warring clans of different humanoid species,”

“Of course.”

“You should know that not only were there other Homo sapiens clans, although in //Tlili’s time there were only a few left, but there were two other separate species of humanity as well: Homo erectus, and to the north Homo neanderthals.  It’s important to be aware that Erectus was around on earth for a million and a half years, and even now we Homo Sapiens have only been around for less than two hundred thousand years. If you compare us with Erectus and chimpanzees we may be smarter than Erectus, but they were certainly smarter and more technologically savvy then chimps are.  However we now know that we aren’t that much smarter or different then chimps.  We also know that we share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, and when taught sign language chimps can almost communicate with us almost as well as we communicate with each other.   Since we obviously are far more closely related to Erectus then we are to chimps the difference between us and Erectus must not be that great at all.  Erectus, after all, populated much of the earth.  We will still need another thirteen hundred thousand years to know if we are smart enough to outlast that ‘primitive’ hominoid species.”

Artemis sighed, Carressa‘s preaching was an old litany, but the girl agreed with it.  There was comfort in that. . .

“Carressa, If civilization is to last that much longer things are going to have to be pretty different.”

        Carressa nodded. “That’s the long view.  In this last hundred years your modern culture may have lost the ability, even the desire, to take a long view.  By today‘s capricious approach to the future even the foresight of your American’s own founding fathers seems outlandish.   You have to go back a little ways, to the building of the pyramids, or the earlier Brahman priests, to find pillars of civilization that thought in really large spans of time; and the Pharaoh with his slaves, and the Brahmans at the top of their cast systems, were repressive.


Anyway, the struggle to keep humanity going in //Tlili’s time was also in no large part social.  //Tlili belonged to N!lkua’s clan, as I said, and as a small child her main awareness of N!lkua was that if she stayed out of his way she was safe.

The people hunted and gathered in extended family groups, or clans, and for as long as anyone could remember, clans had a Big Man.  Human clans at that time generally consisted largely of women and children who were dominated by a small cabal of strong men ruled over by a single big man, the alpha male.  Excess adult males were killed or chased away where they lived alone or in small bachelor groups.

No one in all the clans had ever seen anyone like N!lkua.  He was old and intelligent, probably in his mid thirties, and he was equipped with a ferociously muscled rugged beauty.  Unlike the dark eyes of everyone else in the clan he had strange yellow eyes.  So when he looked at you it was as if you were trapped under the gaze of a panther.  Not only that, he was a master at tracking and stalking, and although his aim was average he could throw his heavy spear further than any of the other men.

N!lkua had become the head man in what was perhaps the usual way:  When //Tlili’s mother was a young girl //Tlili’s grandfather and the clan’s cabal of five adult men had gone hunting.   //Tlili’s grandfather had been the big man of the clan at that time, and two days later when the hunters returned there were just four men. One of whom was a newcomer, N!lkua.  //Tlili’s grandfather and his two brothers were missing, and they were never seen again.

Each of the four returning hunters was dragging almost a quarter of a giraffe, and carrying several hares, and N!lkua also carried a large tortoise.  The men had brought back such a huge amount of meat that the clan’s grief at the loss of the old chief was somewhat assuaged.  The three remaining hunters were unrelated to the old chief.  So they were ambivalent and subdued about whatever it was that had happened on the hunt.

//Tlili’s grandmother was somewhat filled with grief, but, life being as it was, she stoically accepted the imposing young usurper, that is until one night a few months later.  That night not far from the camp N!lkua dug a pit with a sharp flat piece of greenstone.  Then he pulled the two younger sons of the old chief and their nephew from sleep and threw them into the pit, terrified and still breathing.

N!lkua then quickly pushed the heaped earth and stones over the boys, and buried them, and such was his strength and fierceness that //Tlili’s grandmother and great aunt’s horrified resistance to the death of their sons was easily rebuffed with a few blows. . . “

Artemis interrupted again, “Do we have to have this story?  Is it going to be like the book of Joshua in the Old Testament, filled with pointless primitive violence and a fatuous claim that there is a relevant moral to modern times?  I really want you to tell me a story of the Mitochondrial Eve.  I think that’s a cool idea, but I came out here to get away from human madness, and the horrible raping torturing murderous crap like what you are talking about.  I am having enough trouble dealing with the helicopters that fly over here, and I don’t see how an ancient brutal story would solve the complex problem, that you asked me about, of saving civilization.  I’m sorry Carressa, but can we talk about something else?”

        “Patience child!  This is a very long story.  Besides, a few minutes ago you said that a hundred and forty thousand years wasn’t that long ago.  I’m sorry about the violence, but though it has decreased sharply with a global fossil fuel based economy and particularly with the advent of nuclear bombs, ha!, it is obviously still very much a part of life, and it actually is important for you to understand.  Ineptitude with regard to climate, disease, and famine has generally been the main difficulty when one considers the key historical threats to human survival, that is with the exception of the ancient eruption of the Toba super volcano in Sumatra, but human violence has occasionally been a major factor as well, and of course since the invention of nuclear warfare, biological war, chemical warfare, and so forth, it still is.

Besides, even if you wanted to Artemis, the world won’t let you live here in Kohala forever.

And it’s also important to know how humanity changed and evolved, with //Tlili and after.  //Tlili is our mother.”

Artemis took a long breath raised her eyebrows and tilted her head sideways. “Well then, what did this //Tlili look like?  What did the people look like?”

Carressa said, “//Tlili was simply … Well she was simply adorable and as beautiful as a kingfisher or a jeweled sunbird.  She had tan skin, almond eyes, full lips, and the grace of a cheetah.  Later, as she matured, she became as voluptuous during flush times as one would hope for Eve to be.  She also was blessed with a perfectly curved Bushman style hind end, which can be very useful to store fat in during a famine.   Maybe I should also mention that //Tlili was the name that her mother had given her, and in the ancient tongue it actually means Kingfisher.  -Which is a small brightly colored bird that existed long before kings, and it dives most elegantly, straight down out of trees, to grab minnows in its long beak.  She had received the name as an infant because of her slightly hyper agile grace.

Humanity, at that time could be described as a blend of all the ‘races’ that you currently see.  They looked closest to the African San, or Bushmen, who call themselves the Ju/Wasi, and who today’s geneticists will tell you we are all descended from.  But in //Tlili’s childhood the ‘People’ were harsh and socially not much at all like the peaceful San, not in behavior, culture, or religion  -Although their diet was kind of similar, and their language slowly gave rise to the early Ju/Wasi language.  Still, //Tlili’s people at the start vastly predated the Ju/Wasi culture, and the language of //Tlili’s time was much simpler then the Ju/Wasi’s which nowadays is considered humanity’s most ‘primitive’ or earliest language.  But not having fully evolved language skills does not mean that subtle communication was not possible.  It was.  Much of the communication was based on tone, inflection, and body language; but they were almost as fully conscious as we are.  They were capable of subtle thought; so for convenience in this story I will speak as if they had full verbal acuity.

        As for what the people were like generally you may mean Homo sapiens.   Now I know it’s virtually impossible to be objective about this, but when I try to compare us, humans, non-anthropocentrically, to other animals I have to say that at that time, and now, humanity is, physically, a lovely piece of work. I think our svelte hairless bodies are generally simply beautiful to behold.  Being upright and efficiently bipedal we can see and walk better and farther than most animals, and we have more, and more varied sex, great sex. Few other female animals seem to have orgasms, at least like we do. . .  Which by the way directly and indirectly promotes our intense social bonding, and sex also helps with the incredible amount of cohesion parents need for the many years it takes to raise a human offspring.

We can also make beautiful and diverse vocal sounds, and with them express all manor of the glory of creation.  So physically at least, we are blessed.”

        Carressa pulled her massive hair around herself, like a blanket over her old body.

“But, back to the story. . .

By the time //Tlili was seven it was already evident to the people that the girl was particularly gifted in two areas:

First she had an eye for finding difficult bush food and medicine. Children generally stayed around camp until they were about nine years old, but //Tlili was allowed to go on long walks during her seventh year because she had an almost prescient sense of the life of the land.  She could find bitter melon, track bees to honey, find water roots, and climb trees for fruit and eggs with an alacrity that was more than charming.  By the time she was nine she would have been able to forage well enough to feed the clan by herself, but of course she was too small to carry more than a child’s load.

//Tlili was fascinated most of all by bush medicine, and following old Naia on a forage was a joy.  So many things in the world held a kind of secret value, not immediately obvious, and there were hundreds of these items that were a part of Naia’s medicinal repertoire.  The girl loved to hear Naia speak the name and use, or gift, of every plant, tree, fungus, bird, reptile, mammal, insect, or rock.  Even clouds and stars were named and had a reputed medicinal purpose. To //Tlili Naia’s knowledge was a marvel.  Even in old age the shaman woman not only could repeat vast lists of the clan’s lore about the world, but there was a fund that she had gained by herself, and Naia was still studying, thinking, and learning.

Animal, vegetable, and mineral;

Naia once said to //Tlili, “Love the medicine talisman. I keep what medicines that can be dried and stored rolled in skins in this big old leopard skin bag. It was given to me by old Tsi//lo, my teacher”

The clan didn’t possess much, and the medicine bag was probably the largest possession that was moved from camp to camp.  It held the power of a talisman, and Naia hauled it, letting no one else near it.  She slowly allowed //Tlili a limited access, and it became obvious to everyone that //Tlili was her apprentice.  It is strange to think that ‘the bag,’ with its contents, was probably the highest form of technology the earth had yet seen. In the shaman’s hands it was a pharmaceutical cornucopia that, though it misfired a fair portion of the time, was able to cure myriad ailments due to a lore of trial and error that had been gained over many generations.  Naia was mindful of the future and worked hard to pass its secrets on to //Tlili.

//Tlili’s second gift was something rather new in the world at that time.  She had a passion for music.  In //Tlili’s time music was new enough that there wasn’t even a word for it in the ancient language.  Sound, rhythm, and memory may have been genetically imbued in //Tlili in a new way.  This is reasonable because //Tlili lived around the time of the birth of true human language, and language and music have coevolved.  A huge portion of our consciousness is occupied with language, which of course we learn via sound.  The human consciousness also has evolved an innate profound logical faculty that we use to comprehend the world.  That is why humans can discover complex mathematical equations that describe natural phenomena.  So there is a deep nearly universal pleasure in modern humanity in the use of organized sound as a way of expressing subtle and not so subtle beliefs and ideas about the world; be it modern heavy metal, Mozart, the chanting of Tibetan monks, or the didgeridoo of ancient aboriginal culture.

//Tlili loved to string the various clicks, vowels, and consonants of her language together in a nonsensical babble that for sheer loquaciousness went far beyond the chattering of other children.  This was a mysterious gift, and fortunately for //Tlili it was strangely pleasing to the adults.  She was a musical child prodigy lost in time, and felt compelled to carefully examine every new sound that she discovered; she spent much of her spare time making beats and rhythms with sticks, stones, bones, and hollow logs.

As she grew //Tlili’s passion for music increased.  She had always loved the ritual of story telling around the fire at night, and some months after Naia found the Purple Wetchla the hunters returned after a difficult but successful hunt.  The six hunters had been gone five days, and had managed to kill and retrieve an oryx and a springbok.

That night around a bonfire there were hunter’s tales that the women were permitted to observe but not take part in.  During the story a couple of N!lkua’s young sons and the other hunters kept a simple beat.  In a primal-quasi-musical act so old as to be pre-human they used sticks to beat on a hollow log which they had hauled to the fire.

It was N!lkua who pantomimed the stalk, the throw of the spear, and the tracking of the springbok that was wounded.  And while N!lkua pantomimed, Nixa, his chief crony and hunting partner, half chanted the hunt while adding more clicks to the words to match the beat. It was an endlessly replayed variation of an already ancient hunting story: 

“With eyes like leopards,

with our empty stomachs growling,

we stalked,

prowling through the grass.

N!lkua the merciless speared the springbok.

We, fierce as lions, were running after the meat.

Then we killed without pity.

We rejoiced and laughed when the springbok fell.

The hunt went on.

Now only the fast will survive.

Those four legged won’t escape.

Not even the smallest.

We hunt in the open Savanna.

Here only the fast ones live.

Only the strongest survive.”

The sticks clicked as N!lkua, Naxa, and another hunter danced an alternating two and three step stamp showing how they evaded hyenas, and how they guarded the kill from wild dogs.

The naked men grimaced, shouted, and brandished their spears to demonstrate the brief loud encounter they had with another hominoid clan, members of Erectus.

//Tlili was entranced as never before by the drumming.  She hummed and clicked discreetly at the fire circle’s edge while softly slapping her thighs and keeping the time. Then she noticed that N!lkua was looking at her.

N!lkua was her father. But she had never felt a bond with him. He was often violent and intimidating to virtually everyone in the tribe, except for his fellow hunters, his cronies.  These he favored with food and mates and thereby kept himself in charge and the tribe subdued.  He had always ignored her as his harmless little daughter, and she like the rest of the clan generally passively accepted him as a fact of life.  -Although when she really thought of him, in her heart there was a dark cloud.  The ritual of storytelling and drumming generally created a kind of commonality in the group that transcended the repressiveness of N!lkua’s cruelty, but for now N!lkua’s power was in the ascendancy, and it had made the dynamics of her clan more competitive, by far, then our bonabo cousins, more brutal then Homo erectus, more brutal then the chimps.  Indeed, her clan society was crueler then the social order of most wolf packs.  Genetically and socially the power of big men in Homo sapiens culture had been rising for generations, and as a consequence mores against rape, murder, or incest were trivialized, rituals profaned.

Now all of humanity consisted of just a few clans, one tiny culture, stuck in the bottle’s neck.  Homo sapiens was truly an endangered species, but it’s most overtly strong member was satiated with corrupting power. Ni!lkua’s penis was hard, the erection visible to all, and under his fierce and luridly eager yellow eyed gaze //Tlili felt a tight pressure growing in her stomach. She could hardly breathe.  She looked at the ground, and became very still.

After a while she furtively looked back up and found that he was no longer watching her.  He had stamp danced, penis swinging, to the opposite side of the fire.  So she backed away from the fire circle into the security of the night, taking her chances with the hyenas in preference to the false safety of the light and the malevolent man.

She sat for some time in the darkness.  Then, looking up at the stars and moon she felt some sense of peace return and began to breathe easier.  From the quite remote heavens she harvested defiance. Luckily //Tlili seemed to have been born with an easy awareness of the indifferent beauty of the larger world. For her it was a tonic to the heart against savagery.

The hunters were still keeping time about the fire, beating their sticks, but she would do her own dance. Off in the shadows young //Tlili stood up, mouthed the chant, snapped her fingers softly and stamped, her feet silently hitting the clay, stone, and grass as she wove and swayed in the night. . .

To learn more about the ideas and adventures of //Tlili, Carressa, Artemis, and their associates purchase ‘The Sky Clad Sages’ (Part 1 of ‘The Life Tree Trilogy’) for $3.50 here:

Note: The additional excerpt below is in Hawaii from Chapter 38: 

        Makao was sitting in front of his tent with his banjo.  Thus far camping and hiking in the remote Hawaiian jungle of Kohala, and doing zoological research, alone, hadn’t made him much happier at all.  He’d hoped he could slow down and relax, but it was dusk, the mosquitoes were out again, and they were making his life intolerable to the edge of sanity.  Makao’s annoyance was such that eventually he began to wish for malaria.  He was fantasizing that maybe yellow fever wasn’t so bad, because he could just give in to the release of delirium.  It was about then that a couple of bats flew over his tent.  In a moment they cleared the air of insects, and directly after that the sun came out.

“Oyeeoooh!  For all my grumbling and misery, look at this, this shivering beauty!”  Perhaps it was the evening light, but it seemed that suddenly the trees and mountains were painfully lovely, and Makao realized how quickly he had become quite calm.  Therefore he reckoned it was a pretty good time to play the old John Hartford ballad, his favorite.

He meandered into the absurd song called ‘Back in the ‘Goodle’ Days’ about a high school sweetheart, a pickup truck, and the melancholy side of the passage of time.  He sang un-self-consciously, which was one advantage he relished within this otherwise uncomfortable solitude.  He loved the lyrics, threw himself at them, and marveled, not for the first time, at the often unexpected striking beauty of Hartford’s simple banjo chords.

He was about halfway through the song, when he stopped because he noticed a couple of birds, rare scarlet iwi’s, who were flitting about over his head.  As he watched them they occasionally took a drink of nectar from the Kukui tree’s luminous flowers.  The iwi’s were flying around almost in the same location as the bats a few minutes earlier.  Was it the music, his winged friends, or the late afternoon air? Because the world had just turned, for him, quickly, from a miserable place, to a peaceful and lovely one, to . . .almost magical. 

Then he noticed that the sky had a faint sparkle to it. . .

        He carefully examined the air over his head.  Maybe he was hallucinating, but there seemed to be strands of gossamer green orange iridescence floating in the canopy of the tree.

The phenomena only lasted about a minute, then the sparkle was gone, the birds were gone, and clouds covered the sun.  And there was nothing more to see but the hoary old Kukui trees that surrounded him.  One of which was hollow and riddled with holes.

Still, that momentary experience was a turning point for Makao.  Somehow he felt significantly different:  “Why have I been complaining so much?  Wasting my time. I choose to come out here.  So I should really lighten up, and remember to love the snails.  After all if I don’t love em there aren’t many left who will.”  With that thought he took off his clothes and jumped into the little pool in the stream near his tent.

The water was only a couple of feet deep, but he lay in it stomach down, and he faced downstream with his hands braced against some rocks to stop him from moving.  The cool mountain current flowed over his body as he kept just his nose and eyes above the water while observing the many shades of green which covered and created the rain forest.  The mosquitoes were stymied while he was submerged, and as he lay there blissfully he wondered why he didn’t skinny-dip more often, it was so lusciously intimate.

A little while later he heard only the slightest sound of rustling above the murmur of the water, and then suddenly he was aware that Dave Hackel in full camouflage, and armed with a bow, had walked into his camp.  At first Dave noticed Makao’s tent, and as he turned about, studying the campsite, he saw Makao there naked in the water. 

“Akamu!  Is this how you do research, with no clothes?”

“I’m cooling off, and what is to you?  What the hell are you doing way out here?!”

“I’m hunting wild pigs; doing you a favor.  They eat snails you know.”

“There are no pigs around here, only rats.”

“Actually there’s recent boar prints, and kind of a game trail, just a short ways down the hill from here.”  Dave paused considering.  “And there was blood.  Looked like a pig’d been shot.  And bare footprints, smaller than yours I’m sure.  It was women, maybe children, but probably women. . . Know anything bout that?”

It was Makao’s turn to pause, and he saw Dave’s eyes grow hard.  “I don’t know anything about it.  Pretty much the only thing I’ve heard or seen is the damn mosquitoes.  What’s with the Kusai eyes?  Shouldn’t we want anybody to shoot pigs that can?”

“Kusai Eyes ehh?  Don’t ya think it a little pupuli, a little crazy, for women to be way out here hunting boar in bare feet?”

“I dunno,” Makao said.  He quickly climbed out of the water and wrapped himself in a beach towel that he’d brought.  Within a moment the mosquitoes began to surround him; so he climbed into his tent, separating himself from Dave with a screen.  The insects didn’t seem to be bothering Dave at all anyway; maybe he was wearing repellent.  “What does it matter?  It’s the twenty-first century.  Women can do anything they want.”

Dave studied him.  “You’re campin near a swamp. . . Ehh, tell me bro, out here coutin these snails, this makin you happy?”

Bro?  After being such an ass back in the Wiapio valley Dave had the audacity to call him bro?  What was with this guy?  Why was he getting so personal?

“Makao I know what you’re thinkin.  You think you’re better an smarter than me.  Don’t matter if I’m gettin richer than you.  I feel your elitist judgments.  You got that from old man Akamu, your dad.” 

“Dave what are you sayin this to me for.  If you don’t like me than leave me alone.”

Dave ignored him, “I know more than you think,” and he launched into a rather bizarre soliloquy: “People lie to each other, and themselves.  The truth is everyone’s competing.  Life’s pretty much all about status.  You liberals and enviro’s talk about equality and loving and giving, but it’s just another power play, but less honest.  Your hero’s, Mother Teressa, or Gandhi and Martin Luther King, they were all just smooth manipulators.  Look at the status and power they managed to get, and still have, even after they’re dead.  You may say that they helped other’s, but the whole thing was just people lookin out for their own. Mother Terressa’s ‘hospitals’ were actually death houses.  She didn’t carry pain killers because she thought suffering was the will of God.  I like it out here because there’s no lies.  Now it looks like I’m competing with barefoot, maybe bare-assed women, out here on my own turf.  They’ve already got the cities where they keep our balls in a vice.  Those tracks show me that this ‘wilderness’ is too tame.  It seems there’s no place left for honest men, them strutting around, it really pisses me off.”

Makao looked at him.  “Well, maybe everyone’s a bit of an asshole.  But, in answer to your question, I just realized I like being out here, sorta, and even though the mosquitoes are a pain, the bats eat them.  And I do like the snails, I think, and I want to keep them around.”

“Why?  That’s just a game.  It’s all talk and play.  Your actions have no more power than a gnat in a hurricane, and anyway our people should come first.”

“Maybe, but maybe all that gear you have, maybe dressing up in camo, is just a game.  You can buy pork at the store.” 

“It’s not a game if I shoot you, not to you it isn’t.”  Dave’s voice rose.  “You like make beef?  I could hide your body where no one would find it.  There’s nothing you can do.  Even this conversation, it’s just your word against mine.”  With that the hunter turned, and in a moment disappeared into the forest.

To learn more of Makao, Dave,  Carrassa, Artemis, and //Tlili, and the wisdom that they acquired, and now have to offer, purchase the book, The Sky Clad Sages for $3.50: