Every August, before classes resumed, I took a week to ten days to travel somewhere. My modus operandi was to get into a rental car and start driving. At a certain point, I would approach a stoplight or stop sign out in the middle of nowhere and ask the question, “Is it in my best and highest good to turn left, right, or go straight ahead?” I’d always get a clear response with muscle testing or something clairaudient. And I’d end up in unexpected small towns and inns.
One summer I went to Elk, CA. While there, I headed out one day and asked a local where to eat lunch. She gave me directions to a great Mexican restaurant high on a cliff overlooking sunning seals. There were a few customers inside and I had the patio to myself. When she brought the bill, I asked the waitress for a hiking recommendation, specifically somewhere without a lot of people.
She gave me directions to drive a mile up the road, pull in at the trailer with the library, then drive back to a second trailer that said Police. She told me to park and then look for the hole cut in the fence and follow that trail. “I walk my dog there after my shift and the cops watch the car.”
I settled up, and five minutes later I was at the hole in the fence. No one was around. It seemed I walked 30 minutes through woods and meadows, and I found myself wishing I had asked the waitress for a trail to the Pacific. After a good two miles or so I could hear the surf and soon found myself at the edge of a cliff looking over a small bay with tiny, rocky islands surrounded by kelp beds dancing with the waves.
I sat at the edge with my legs dangling over. Far away, I could see the national park with the lighthouse that I had passed earlier, its parking lot filled with visitors’ cars. I felt really privileged to be alone.
After ten minutes of sitting, a large white heron flew to the edge of the cliff about twenty feet away. He turned to face the ocean. I said hello. My grandmother had told me to always say hello to children and animals, and I do. After another ten minutes, a black raven flew to the cliff’s edge and settled another twenty feet down from the heron. I said hello as he turned to face the waves. Soon we were joined by a seagull. There were several on the small islands, but one flew to edge of the rock and sat another twenty feet down from the raven. After hellos, we four sat there looking at each other and looking at the horizon for half an hour. I told them how I ended up there and thanked them for coming and spending time with me. I promised that I would paint them.
I got up to leave first.
Before I disappeared into the woods, I turned back to see they had all flown away.