Hello Friends!

What do you know, here I am back at this blog again!
Life has been kind of insane lately. Things that I never expected to happen are happening. It’s scary, it’s painful, it’s raw, it’s real, it’s beautiful… and it’s totally Wild..

I always thought that someday I’d be the old woman of the canyon, stirring pots of soup and making pies in my beautiful wood stove oven, my kitty cats climbing on my shoulder. Drinking tea in my outdoor kitchen while I watched the sun rise through the mist. Gazing at those cliffs every day of my life, feeling like the luckiest lady in the world. Walking the same paths, noticing the same plants, seeing the same birds and lizards and bugs and skunks hopping and crawling and waddling around, and feeling so glad to see every little creature that shared the canyon with me.

But what was starting to happen there in the canyon is that I was feeling too lonely, and a little bit restless. Maybe it’s just a typical mid-life crisis. But for the past year, I’ve been fighting it. I’ve been trying so hard to make everything ok, and convince myself that if I could just love myself enough, maybe I could quit feeling like I needed to be around more people, and NEW people, singing and dancing and sitting around outdoor fires. Shopping at farmer’s markets. It might seem silly, but these are the things I felt like I was missing the most. But also, just being around little kids, and old people, and feeling like I was part of a larger community than just my family.

But, I tried as hard as I could. I really, really did. And I just couldn’t shake it.

So, to make a very long story short, I’ve ended up here, in this beautiful valley in Southern Oregon that is truly some kind of magical oasis. It’s just 16 miles from the border of Northern California, so it has the weather of California along with the fertility of the North West. When I walk the streets here, I see chestnut trees and blackberry vines, wild rose bushes, and acorns that are about 4 or 5 times the size of the ones in the canyon. There’s rosemary flourishing in so many yards, spilling over practically onto the sidewalks. There’s grape vines bearing really fat grapes that I can smell from many yards away.

I really, really love it here. It’s totally magical, but in a very different way than the enchanted canyon. I miss New Mexico hugely though. I miss the crazy blue of the skies, the feeling in the air, the weather there, the lay of the land and the very unique kind of wildness that that place has, where it’s really easy to feel like you’re in some kind of old Western movie. And of course, I miss the canyon.

I miss my enchanted kitchen and its perfect, curvy countertops that Wolf made with his own, beautiful hands. I miss the river and the cliffs, and my little dock patch, and the wild mustard and the tiny acorns we have there that are so much more flavorful. Really, I miss every little thing there so much. I miss my giant school bus closet with its ridiculous amount of clothes, I miss my solar refrigerator, I miss my knives and my wooden spoons and my 12 bins of fabric for the sewing projects I hardly ever seem to be able to make time for. I miss my Singer treadle that used to be Wolf’s grandmother’s. I miss the rocking chair that I sat at the table in the outdoor kitchen. I miss my darling kitty cats… sooo much.

And it kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, how much I miss my family. It’s really hard to even go there in my mind without tears welling up in my eyes. Even in my happiest times here, already, at any point in time I could go to the park and bawl my eyes out at how hard it feels to be separated from them. It’s crazy to love and miss people so much, and yet to know that it really is better for all of us for me not to be there.

It’s just not right for me to be with people I love so much, and yet to feel the least bit ambivalent about being with them. It doesn’t honor them, and it doesn’t honor me. It’s really hard to deal with this. I want to have my cake, and eat it too, but life just doesn’t work like that. We have to make choices. And for every choice we make, there is a price. Sometimes the price just seems to difficult or high to pay. But what is the alternative?

More than anything, I don’t want to become the old, bitter, resentful woman of the canyon. Really, I can’t allow it. The canyon doesn’t deserve that, and neither do I, and neither do my most beloved ones. But I think it was seriously in danger of happening, if I stayed.

So here I am, taking the leap of faith. Of all the places in the world I could have gone, I picked this place because I trust Wolf so much. From all his years of traveling and performing in his Deep Ecology Medicine Shows, he felt strongly that this town I am in, Ashland, Oregon, was the place where I would feel most welcomed with open arms, and feel safe enough to be myself to my fullest– singing and dancing and finding my own way through my days. A place where people often leave things unlocked, where folks you talk to on the phone that you haven’t even met yet, call you “Love”. As in,”Thanks for calling, Love!” It is a place full of sweetness and kindness, open arms and open hearts. Singers, dancers, artists, and musicians. People that, even after only 5 days here, I am starting to feel really are my tribe.

14 thoughts on “Welcome To the Enchanted Valley!

  1. I’ve never met you but I’ve been following your posts from here in the UK and enjoying them, so just for that, I’m going to wish you all the best and , like Bobbie above, say be HAPPY!


  2. My heart aches for what you are going through, even though it’s the right thing for you at this moment in time. Sometimes the right decisions are hard and painful. Still. You always seemed like such an integral part of the Canyon for so many, many years. I remember, though, thinking that when Wolf and Kiva started the herb conferences and you stayed back at home, wondering how that was going to all work out over the years. I thought, why isn’t Elka (Loba then), going too? Every day, in every moment we make choices that, years down the road, lead us to a path that may be very different than what we had thought we’d always want.

    When I moved from Vermont to Maine over 20 years ago, I too left everything behind – my friends, my oldest son (who died in May 2013 from a drug overdose), and my activist life. I loved that life. I met and was so priviledged to work with many wonderful people – Wolf among them. I had never imagined that I could do that work – be so public, travel, speak at conferences, and be respected by people I respected (one of my goals in life), and also to have books and articles published and well-received (another of my goals). But leaving when I did, even though it was necessary on a practical level because my father could no longer care for my disabled sister, was also the right thing for me emotionally and spiritually. The pain of the earth, something I was so very aware of due to my research and focus at the time, was too much, and like you, I spent a year, maybe more, putting on the face people expected, saying the words people expected, but inside I felt like I was dying and my belief, my faith in love, in Gaia, and most of all in my own relationship with the earth faltered. It hurt so much. If I wasn’t the activist, wasn’t the writer, wasn’t the person who heard the earth and shared that, then who was I? What was left? That was for me to find out.

    Eventually I did. I started Gaian Voices and each month from the very first issue, Wolf gave his support, sharing beautiful writings, photos, pictures. Then Kiva too, and you as well. I absolutely LOVED putting that journal out into the world. Even now I look at back issues and it still impresses me with its beauty – each issue a whole and, in some ways, a work of art and love. But I had to leave that behind too – for financial reasons and also, once again, because of the pain of the Earth. I found myself too focused on the pain, on the destruction, when what I really wanted to communicate was the love and the beauty and the importance of relationship and reciprocity.

    My next thing was, and still is, sharing my herbal products with those few (discerning, lol) people who know about them and find they work well for them. I get to garden, wild-craft, experiment, and share – and it brings a whole new meaning to my purpose (listen to the Earth, write what she tells me, and share it with others). Our purpose throughout life doesn’t change but how we fulfill it absolutely does. Or can anyway.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this but in May of 2013 my oldest son, Jason, died of a drug overdose. He had struggled for a couple of years, but the last year was very, very hard. He tried several times to get help but didn’t have enough insurance to pay for the treatement he really needed. That is a long, painful story and I still have so much anger at the treatment/recovery “professionals” in Vermont (though it’s no different anywhere). As you can imagine, this was the most painful thing that I have ever gone through and nothing prepares you for it. Jason and I were close, and he was the best son he could possibly be, even as a kid, even as a teen. After I moved to Maine, we stayed in close touch, and after his boys were born, we visited back and forth a lot. I still miss hearing his voice at the other end of the phone (and no, I haven’t forgotten what his voice sounds like – I never will). My dreams kept me going – literally. I had several “visitation” dreams, as did the mother of his boys, his ex, and finally his younger brother. I had conversations with him – and I do believe they were/are real. One time I was driving home, it was a gorgeous fall day a year after he died. Jason loved fall, going to the fair, the colors, the clarity of the light, and I thought, “Jason will never see this again”, and tears came. And Jason said to me, “You have to see it for me Mom.” I have no doubt it was him – and it gave me pause. That I have a responsiblity to revel in the beauty, to take it in, because I’m here, I’m alive, and it’s what life is about, right?

    I stopped wearing makeup (I know, a superficial thing but I enjoyed eye makeup but couldn’t wear it because I would find myself crying at any time over anything). I gained a lot of weight (and I wasn’t a skinny minny to start with!) because of my compulsion to eat sweets, mostly ice cream, at night before bed. As my clothes got tighter I resorted to wearing “old lady” pants and tops and it kind of sucked but though I cared, I couldn’t bring myself to deal with it. I can’t say I have “recovered” from Jason’s death. I never will. Instead I have integrated his death into my life. I am a mother who has lost a child. But I am starting to find myself again. A year ago (2 years after he died), I gave up sweets cold turkey (not sugar in my coffee and not dessert after a special meal – I didn’t go crazy or anything), and now a year later I am ditching those old lady clothes, fitting into jeans and pretty tops, and I even got new eye makeup and am starting to drape myself with jewelry again. I recognize this woman though she is not who I was before Jason died. Still, she is me.

    I have no idea whether I’ll be making such a dramatic move as you are, but I do hope so – though it won’t happen for a year or more – at least not a physical move. But then, who knows? A part of me isn’t surprised to learn of your life changes – even though we haven’t ever met, and even though I’ve never visited the Canyon, I’ve always felt a connection. To Wolf for sure, but also to you. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading more about your new life, the people in it, and what you decide to do to fulfill yourself.
    Lots of love,


  3. So thrilled you’ve landed in Ashland – it’s a magical town that we hope to call home someday as well! And its just a few hours from our home, and we pass through on various Oregon camping adventures – so I’m hoping that we’ll see you sooner than later. Congratulations on embarking on a beautiful adventure!


  4. Thank you all so much for your cheers, shared stories and support!
    It really means a lot to me.
    And would you believe the place I just moved into not only has a woodstove, there is also a beautiful kitty!?!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elka,

    Sending you continuing joyful howls from Pinos Altos to Ashland. From your canyon home to a magical welcoming valley, I send you a big hug of support. Love you dear Elka.



  6. Elka,
    So glad to hear that mid-life crisis is going well! I did the same thing in the same place, and am now a few hours south in Northern California. I’ve been following you and your family via blog and Facebook for over 10 years-found you all originally because we had very similar lives then (in GA). We lived very off grid as well, but since I’m older now, I’m rather enjoying some creature comforts-I’m just very grateful to have them.
    Ashland is a sweet town-has it’s issues just like any town but lots of like-minded and funky folk. I hope you are most happy there, and if you ever come down I-5 southward give me a shout! And seriously if you need anything we aren’t that far away, and I’m always looking for an excuse to come up there. I adore Ashland.

    Much Love
    Isabel 🌿


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