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"Yes, we're trespassing," says Nadia, sighing. "We're eco-terrorists."
by Cedar (spooner [at] spoonerdirect.org)
Wednesday Apr 23rd, 2008 2:09 PM
Cedar is a remarkable woman who came from afar to protect Old Growth trees in Nanning Creek, located a mile or so east of Pacific Lumber headquarters in Scotia, Ca. These are her words from high atop Grandma, an Old Growth Coastal Redwood. Cedar, along with dozens of other activists, are dedicating their lives to safeguard these sacred ancient beings. We hope you enjoy her thoughts and feelings and invite you to call or text her to voice your support at 707-845-9310 or contact spooner@spoonerdirect.org if you'd like to send her gifts, letters, love and support.
PART I Everyone! (copyist’s note: µ = happy face; Ω = yucky/scowly face in the handwritten original) Hey-hey! How are you? I am feeling wonderful here in Grandma right next to Grandpa) – it is raining right now, but Grandma is gracefully guiding the water away from the platform so proficiently that the wrap-around tarps serve only to protect me from the odd drops from a downpour. It is so beautiful here! I have been here for a few days now (we hiked the hill in the early hours of Saturday, October 13, and I was climbing up by sunrise µ) . . . I have no idea what day it is . . . There is a lot of work to do up here – the last sitter was by no means a home-maker. The tarps were rolled back so that all the blankets were damp; only one of the buckets (shit, food, + compost) was labeled, + most of the pee jugs + one shit bucket were full Ω >> too much weight for this platform that sleeps two! My intentions for my stay here (which, I believe, will be long/full-term, with occasional shower breaks) include making a water-catcher (I do not want to be dependent on ground support for water when it rains almost daily!), and finishing the dreamcatcher closer to Grandma’s canopy for extra sleeping/hanging out space. Grandpa has a small dreamcatcher already. When I visited Spooner (2 traverse lines away) from the ground I asked for guidance. Spooner’s energy felt burdened by the traffic of the sitters, yet remains as strong as ever. It was confirmed that I needed to go up any tree. I do not want to leave; I don’t even have interest in visiting Spooner, although I know it will inevitably happen in the future. Grandma + Grandpa’s (Gr+Gr’s) energy is unbelievably soothing; I feel like my spirit is being wrapped up with comfort + love + peace + calm + protection. The energy never falters in intensity (unless it is a single branch); it is saturating my soul µ. Even with the maggots in the shit buckets + the scare of dysentery, etc. from minimal sanitation (hand-sanitizer + wet wipes), I would much rather be here than in a 1st class hotel! Here with the birds + owls + flying squirrels (
>PART II
(Editor’s note: µ = smiley face; Ω = scowly face)
Everyone!
Rainy day . . . The only time I get even close to bored/lonely are the 1-2 days after I “host” somebody up here. Detox, I suppose. The wind started yesterday + the rain this morning. Rain like this (the wind has died down) means that I can have the tarps open some, and that I can climb around without a raincoat (that will change if the rain lasts + makes its way through the needles/branches). I love how I can climb without all the clothes during that negative ion high: I got really excited, and whenever I’m bubbling over with that (or love, etc.) I do my call-thing or shout “I love you!” or “it’s so beautiful!”, + then Winter, the only one in Spooner right now, called back his forest-call + “I love you” µ. That is usually the extent of what we shout across the valley – otherwise we use the walkey-talkey (“radio”) to minimize the noise pollution. Jeff said he wants to clone me (after receiving my “clean” recycling) – a lot of the sitters are messy/careless/unorganized, and most end up being “tourists”; there is nobody else here who has the same intentions of not touching ground, and many people are almost eager to do for me what I can’t (deliver water/tobacco etc., even receiving + emptying shit/compost buckets + piss jugs! Wow – that’s a perfect example of the type of people here. I am astounded every single time at the dedication, generosity, etc. of ground support + other sitters. I hope to get a “real” raincatcher soon so that I can utilize the sponges I requested for bathing. Even that puts a smile on my face, hah! It’s been almost a month (in 23 days?) + the extent of my bathing has been (?ore) baby-wipe baths, 3X now. It doesn’t bother me much, though; even pissing in a jug isn’t challenging (anymore! I’ve started peeing while standing instead of squatting, which involves taking off my bottom layers + socks, even with company.
O.---------.----------. Photo of "Spooner" Spooner Spindle Gr + Gr
The “ring” has Spooner + Monah + Mays + possibly another one (?). Spooner + Gr + Gr are the “liveable ones”, but because it’s the longest traverse, Gr + Gr are pretty secluded – just what I want µ . . . My supplies are low, but life is beautiful again µ. A few days ago I woke up before sunrise (not so unheard of anymore!) to pee + as I stepped over to the branch the entire platform shifted by ~2 feet! I’m safe though, no worries; it gave me a fright, and I’ve let others know. In Spooner people complain of the cold, which is understandable with the windchill from underneath, but I cannot get over the fact that it’s so damn warm + there’s zero indication of snow – and it’s probably Dec. now! It’s like a cool summer’s day in Edmonton + humidity (which I rather like, having grown up without it). Yesterday there was 1 logger (I think) on the ground. He didn’t say much, just “wanted to see how you guys were doing.” The easiest way to send adrenalin through a tree-sitter’s system is to holler an unfamiliar holler or say “hello” during the day from the ground (ground support, etc. is almost always at night). Loggers aren’t a threat (police + climbers/extractors are). The horoscope on my tea bag reiterated both the guidance from Diana at Pase Tempo (“Listen to your belly µ”), as well as my overall impression; it read: “Your intuition is your best friend. My gut said I was safe + the man was not a threat, + it has since been confirmed – the man was PL security checking (hoping) to see if the sitters left for Thanksgiving. Nope. We indulged in Tofurkey, gravy with potato + vegi-protein, tortilla chips with salsa + refried beans, + an assortment of cookies, etc. in Spooner.
I had been up here for ~1.5 months until I was told I needed to go down 2 nights ago. I was consumed by a feeling of sadness verging on hurt + defeat, although there was no hint of animosity towards the forest defenders who insisted I touch ground. There is not enough ground support. I am glad to be “able” to empty the few dozen piss jugs + the bucket, as well as to pump water from the stream (to drink a lot of water is more appealing than a shower at this point). At some time I will most likely go to town + shower + buy things + phone home! I worry about the mental states of them, expecially Jameson (Jeff + Healing Tree, his partner, have “disappeared”; Jameson is very strong, but also very sensitive, + he’s now displaced (I believe he intends to get a storage locker + “go wild” with Bowin, his dog). Ω Ω Ω. I loved that place so much, + the people there, so much about it – I’ve even considered living there some time. I’ve been welcomed a few times at Slug + Arrow’s house (it is very busy/crowded with forest defenders though). I don’t want to leave yet – first the ground needs to be cleared + possibly water pumped + rest. Walking was awkward! The first thing I did once I toucned the ground (after procrastinating via hanging + standing on a little ledge at the base of Grandma) was crouch + sit on my feet, ha ha—a true sitter I’ve become! I thought it’d be difficult to be sedentary, but walking is what made my legs stiff . . .
Well, I did my first shit run a few days ago (burying shit/urine/compost) and it felt great – no kidding. I thought before that one of the lessons I’d have to learn out here was how to take take take when I’d rather be giving. I’m glad to put that lesson off though. Things have been happening rapidly lately – the first storm hit yesterday (50 mph – whatever that means – winds) Hunter was around the day before to let us know of it, and that we needed to slacken all of the traverses to enable the trees to sway (otherwise it’d be a huge risk to the trees + ourselves). The dreamcatchers in Spooner are in the canopy, and a huge sprout makes it accessible via ropes >> sprouts are designed to break off (Gr+Gr’s already have) during storms, so Mowgli + Winter camped on the ground for safety. Jameson was here + tied off the only branch that could pose risk to the platform/myself; I’m so grateful that my closest friend here is an arborist! Lorax pumped 6 gallons of water from the stream for me µ (it needs to be done during the day + I’d never leave the tree unattended unless it’s night) + I now have a raincatcher that’s collected an overflowing barrel of water. Also the cell phone. And a hand-powered/charged weather radio. I’m so excited to hear from home! I’ve felt anxiety/anticipation in my stomach 2X; I over-psychoanalyzed it, of course, at the time. The 1st was right before Jameson came (SO happy to wee him finally!); the 2nd was today right before figuring the cell phone out enough to get Dad a message µ. The next time I feel that I’m probably going to wonder who’s coming because those 2 were the best µ . . .
Before I touched the ground the forest reminded me of the ravine at home, as though I could hike up the hill + be @ ahome. From up here it looks like a meadow with grass + clovers, but on the ground the “grass” becomes ferns taller than me, + the clove[r]s are little deciduous trees/shrubs that I walk under; and the ground is rugged/natural. There are at least a dozen other plant species in the canopy here, and they excite me every time. Oh yes, and the creek is rough – I can always hear the many waterfalls, but can’t see it from up here . . .
The nurseries in Grandma’s canopy are sprouting more of these mini-ferns with red-black dots under their leaves, thanks to the rain brought by the storm last week µ. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I also noticed a branch that probably died a decade ago “cry out”, so to speak, when I touched it; it seemed to produce a feverish heat + transmitted an energy like the bitter saliva that comes before you puke when you’re sick. I sat there for a good 5 minutes before continuing my climb (I stashed a gallon of H2O at the upper/defence traverse in case of an emergency). The platform might be re-stabilized/set with extra support beams, and possibly raised 10-20 feet. At first the concept of change bothered me – it’s also a lot of work to take everything off this platform, but I’ve envisioned it + am now more comfortable with the idea. I’m going to stop writing + send this (to be continued of course). I really hope my first letter has arrived + that this one makes it, too. If you never got the 1st, please let Sara know that her letter was lost + that I did reply + will rewrite it + thank her so much, +tell her definitely on the camera + to not use my real name (use “Cedar” or “Grandma & Grandpa”). . . .
(night) I have to write this: there was a worker scoping the valley today. He left beer at the base of the tree (as if I’d lower the line!). He said, “don’t shoot the messenger”, which makes me wonder what the message is. I needed to make him human, so I asked for a fake name. “Schmoozie”, from what I could understand, with a white hard-hat + blue raincoat, from Blue River. He took a picture of the girl in Spooner. I hope he didn’t get mine (I had my balaclava + glasses on for most of the day). So now there’s “Schmoozie” + the “Hey-oh” guy (his call to us).
As long as they don’t have a harness or a chain saw I’m fine. Ooh – suspenseful ending >>SEND!
PART III
(Editorial note: µ= when Cedar made a smiley face; Ω = scowly face) Everyone! µ Yep, it’s rainy/snowy/sleety/haily – I actually get to see white falling from the sky!! I really wanted to see snow (my body is so confused with this never-ending summer), although I was hoping for more of a ‘wake up to snow-covered landscape that melts during the day’ thing than this storminess. Before I ramble off – Schmoody (not Schmoozy) was a white-hard-hatted worker = no threat (the orange hat signals the alarm); he spent the day cutting the lines on the ground (rather necessary to get around on this terrain) & destroying what he could (i.e. he sawed up the platform that was foolishly left on the ground near Spooner). He seemed to feel bad about it; he actually left the beer & ‘home-made mead’ even though I didn’t enable him to cut my line (next time I’m lowering down pea-cord [cheap & strong]). There are a few magazines & such that want tree-sitter writing, & I’m keen on that, but even though my environment is different in its expectations, my head is still none [?] – how can I write something half-decent (to me) without a computer to edit edit edit? There are a lot of possibilities that I need to meditate on before I can start ( It is Jan 1st, 2008, the middle of ‘winter’ and my soap bottle is once again orange (it goes white when it’s under ~ 10_C). Crazy! ......! During the 50 mph storm a while ago, Farmer was in a panic because Redwoods sway a good 15 feet, & having them tied together via traverses is dangerous. That day I lowered the traverses & let the almost comforting rocking of the platform/tree counteract the racket from the tarps (that drowns out everything outside). I knew I was safe. The sitters in Spooner freaked out & spent the night on the ground (their living conditions – dream-catchers on a sprat [that break off during storms] – are not as safe). Last week my weather-ma-box died; I knew that dryer weather was expected at the beginning of the month, but had no warning of the storm that hit last night. MY TRAVERSES ARE UP and the winds were so intense I couldn’t stay asleep. I was so worried about Grandpa and Grandma and Spindle & saw a domino effect in my mind of all the connected trees pulling each other down, but I was too scared by the intensity of the wind & rain to leave the platform to go up or down (I was shaking. The words “Oh my fucking god I’m going to die” came out of my mouth as the platform shifted & bumped & the tarps whipped & caught the wind like crazy. I told Jameson that I’d tie myself in if I got scared, but there was no way I’d attach myself to the things that might give! I prayed to the trees & god (Mother Earth) to keep me safe & held a rock & meditated on calm & peace. I even peed in a bucket because going outside was out of the question – for good reason too – when I woke up (the calm & peace thing seemed to help myself & the severity of the storm!) & looked outside – Oh my god! The platform has shifted by 2-3 feet, my raincatcher is broken, & there were broken brancher strewn about; the view out the ‘back door’ is different now. Scary. I can’t believe that the sitters in Spooner (Winter & his friend Chiris) stuck it out. I have no batteries to communicate with anyone & it’s still unsettled out there (thunder & hail & rain & sun & wind). I really hope for a new weather-ma-box with the next resupply! (& a bulk supply of tuna please!) (& batteries!). I hope for somebody will look at the platform, too. Oh ya – it was dripping in here last night, too. My nerves need to recover from the shock ..... (same day) OH MY FUCKING GOD. I hear the weather will stay bad, so I went up to lower the traverses. Ω Grandpa has lost at least 7 limbs (some of them were huge), including the entire dreamcatcher. And Grandma. FUCK! At the top she forks into a doughnut & forks again; the defence traverse is tied right above the doughnut. Shit shit shit. She broke right above the traverse. No more fork! I feel like G & G have sacrificed so many limbs to keep me safe. I feel like I risked everybody’s life -- . So much grief & guilt & remorse. Gr and Gr are both still solid, but sore & hurting. I will be OK in time. I’ve written a letter asking if it’s my fault that she broke, or if that fork was just waiting for a storm that strong. I prepared myself for death last night, & know now that I actually am lucky to be alive..... (bright & white/foggy) Finally the sun is shining (sort-of) again. It’s beautiful µ. The needles are glowing a vibrant green with the moisture, & the H2O droplets are sparkling all around – even the mist is sparkling in the sun. Being able to open the tarps a bit (it’s lazily & seemingly unendingly dripping) makes it feel like less of a house arrest. It’s mystical & calm (minus the thundering creek) & still peaceful. I have not yet been able to climb without being overwhelmed with nausea & shakiness ever since the storm mutilated the trees so violently. Even the neighbouring trees are missing tops & branches – the wounds are almost screaming out, with the bright yellowish red moisture glowing. Grandpa seems so naked & exposed. It’s painful to look & climbing is something I know I need to do with caution, after I can re-centre myself; the climb is a new one. I am going to need serious therapy if these trees get cut down. Ω. Although I do feel devastated, I’m not feeling the world cave in on me as it so often did in the past when I felt traumatized, and it’s only been 3 months! I can still feel relatively grounded, take a deep breath, appreciate the beauty around me, & know in my heart (instead of just telling my head) that nature is merely taking its course; everything is constantly changing; nothing lasts forever (including this grief, etc.). It sounds like psychological growth, but it’s not – it’s spiritual (although it is all connected). .... (moon) Oh my fucking god oh my fucking god. I’m so damn excited! It is so still & peaceful & beautiful & clear – I feel the need to stifle the vocal (i.e. giggling/laughing/cheering/shouting “you’re so fucking beautiful” or something) expression bubbling up. Usually I feel this way only while climbing (physical contact with the tree), but now it’s the brightness of the moon lighting up & casting shadows over everything. It’s not full, either, only half. And what the hell am I doing writing – must savour moment! [sun] When it’s rainy & windy & stormy I need my headlamp during the day, but the past few nights have been so bright & clear that I needed it only to read! .... [cloud] When I first came here I had times of pure elation; when I was overtaken by the beauty around me, overflowing with love that I could express only to Spooner & in laughter, & amazed at the fact that I’m actually here. Guess what? I still have those moments all the time!! I notice something new every day ; & have never once been able to think of a place I’d rather be. Luckily, I know I’m not losing it, but these times are balanced with harder ones. ..... [rain] (night) The addition or reduction/elimination of various wants, needs, & ‘extras’ can change my entire experience up here, or at least my perception of it. Like the absence of fruit makes it makes an orange taste as sweet as pop, amazingly satisfying; the addition of vegetables & spices makes cooking (& the results) enjoyable, & any reduction of H2O still gives me a constant anxiety; the absence of a branch intensifies southerly winds; and technology – no propane & nothing but potatoes & brown rice & lentils – turns a month or 2 of food into a few days; the addition of a weather-ma-box > now I have warning for when I need to lower traverses (wind) or what night is best to go down – much less of the intuition I depended on before; & the radio-music changes the entire atmosphere; a cell phone opens a multitude of social windows, and without batteries during a storm not even Spooner could hear me. Baby-wipes = pampering; the frequency & duration of visits affects me completely – physically, mentally, intellectually, & escecially spiritually; etc, etc. I am definitly learning on a deep level of trust & gratitude/appreciation. (snow!) This is the first time it’s snowed here (other than sleet/hail) – the trees & ground are white! It makes me think of home, & it makes winter’s wish to see snow come true!!! It’s beautiful & amazing, but adrenalin is rushing through me like during a big storm – there are limbs ‘exploding’/falling all around. The snow seems so gentle, & the air is calm, but those cracks make my heart flutter! During that crazy storm that broke all the branches, I couldn’t hear them because the wind & tarps were so loud. Now it is still – Crack! It sounds like gun shots. I wonder if I’ll see one fall; I doubt it – its like watching a pot boil, nothing until you forget to pay attention – that & the tarps – somehow I expected to be able to have the tarps open, like during rain (no wind), but the snow is making its way down here. I think the winds that are supposed to come tonight will make me extra nervous after a quiet day of falling branches.... [rain] A few days ago, for the first time, I left the tree during daylight, to help Spooner (a branch was wrapped around the bag so they coudn’t haul it). I hated having to leave Gr & Gr, but knew I had to. I later dreamt that I was at home crying & panicking because I didn’t remember who was sitting in Gr & Gr for me, let alone if anyone was there at all. Ironically, the ‘Hey-oh’ – guy showed up soon after I went back to Gr & Gr. A lot of trees fell over the logging roads during that “cold”-snap – probably more than here because those trees no longer have the protection of the trees felled for the road (that’s probably why the ‘Hey-oh’ guy was here so late in the day – to check on how we held out, if those prized old-growth ($$$) trees are still standing). As scary as it was, the ground is completely different – beautiful & open – during the day; I could tell where I was, & still see Gr & Gr when I went to Spooner µ. I have not yet been ‘allowed’/welcomed to climb to assess any damage from the cold – Gr & Gr don’t want for me to climb when it’s cold, or when it’s too soon after a storm because they can’t give me their full attention/guidance when they are feeling worn out/run down (and, I assume, their branches are probably more brittle). Still no problem with patience – thank God! It may be another 2 days before I can go out again; now I’ve got time to write & read & rest. µ Must stop writing so I can send! XOXOXO Lots of Love to everyone!
And, last but not least, Cedar's article for the Edmonton Journal:
Edmonton native takes a stand to save the good wood Scott McKeen, The Edmonton Journal Nadia von Berg of Edmonton is up a tree, in California.
Nadia's new home is a small platform, about 40 metres above ground. She spends her day reading, writing, cooking or climbing up Grandma and Grandpa, the sky-high giant redwoods she protects with her presence. She's been watching over these centuries-old spirits for more than five months now. In all that time, she hasn't washed her hair or had a shower. She washes with baby wipes. Her hair, she says, has never felt better. Some days, the loggers come by to entice her down. Nadia, 22, chats from on high with them, because they're just people too, with personal beliefs and families to feed. On other days, when the loggers are out of sight, she will descend to the ground. It's risky, but certain personal repercussions must be dealt with. She digs a hole, buries those repercussions, then returns to her trees. On good days, she climbs way, way up from her platform into the leafy canopy of Grandma and Grandpa. Like tonight, so she can get better reception on her cellphone. Her voice is sweet, almost child-like, and sounds peaceful and happy. Nadia von Berg was born and raised in Edmonton. As far back as she can remember, she was always climbing trees to seek sanctuary from the rumpus of the city. "I've always felt connected to trees and pick up on their energy," she says. "It's amazing how powerful they are. "I was always pretty introverted," she adds. "I have close friends, but I just always needed a lot of alone time." In her early teens she read The Legacy of Luna, the diary of Julia Hill, who sat in an ancient redwood for two years in the late 1990s. After high school, while attending classes and working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, she intimated to her boss that she wanted to live in the trees. He told her to follow her dreams. So she searched the Internet and found an activist camp at Nanning Creek, in northwestern California. She e-mailed the group and on Oct. 13 of last year, climbed up a redwood tree. Tree sitters do just that. They set up platforms high in old-growth forests to protect the trees from logging. Those trees might be worth a fortune to a forest company. But loggers don't cut down trees with people in them. Fellow activists sneak in food and supplies that are lifted to the sitters by ropes. The ground crews -- or those sitters who descend to the forest floor for a break -- are at great risk of being arrested. "Yes, we're trespassing," says Nadia, sighing. "We're eco-terrorists." Loggers come around every couple of weeks to see if the sitters are still on the job. They come after violent storms, too, in case the sitters lost their nerve. Nadia suffered through a hellacious storm in early January. Her protective tarps howled in the wind. The platform shifted violently. Branches cracked like thunder. She thought she was going to die. But she eventually transcended her fear by trusting the trees. On calm days, it is as if she's in the most beautiful cathedral in the world. She settles into the bliss of bird song, sunlight and fragrant air. Make-shift zip lines run between the tree platforms, allowing sitters to visit one another. Nadia likes visits, if they're not more than a couple of days. "I've never felt bored, not once," she says. "I think boredom is overcome by being present. All you need to do is to listen to the raindrops and the birds." She doesn't know how long she'll sit in a tree. Other tree villages have been broken up by police. That could happen anytime to her, too. "What do I miss? I miss my family and friends," she says. "Running water would be awesome. But I'm not craving pizza or anything." Hers is not a radical or angry form of environmentalism. It is centred in her spirit and her notions of God in nature. Nadia loves the giant redwoods and thinks it's tragic that future generations might only experience them digitally. She says 98 per cent of the world's old-growth forest is already gone. Is it too much to ask that these few giants be left? Or, is her love of solitude -- her connection with these ancient and glorious monuments to the natural world -- so hard to understand? "I spent a lot of my life feeling miserable," she says. "I felt like there was nothing for me. This is definitely where I need to be." Finally I ask: Don't you ever miss the intimacy of human touch? She laughs at my question. "I can always hug a tree."
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Comedic ValueAnonymousThursday Apr 24th, 2008 6:41 PM
Don't use the terrorist label so lightlyJohn ThielkingWednesday Apr 23rd, 2008 5:24 PM

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