ZC and Green Gulch Stories
There's now a Tassajara Stories page on Youtube for you to send yours
Tassajara Hub --- Tassajara History
Two Stories from Willem Malten
Phone LineI think it was in 1982 I came to Tassajara when everything was still spic and span. But sometimes there were little inklings, that somethings was afoot, and could go wrong. Of course there had already been a fire at Tassajara some 6 years earlier and though vegetation was coming back, you could see how things were still fragile, and could go wrong again.
So one morning I was woken up by a noise and perhaps even some shaking. What was it? Was it an earthquake? I came outside of one of the cabins along the main road and everything seemed normal. But coming to the little plaza between the kitchen and the dining room, one of the large trees (was it an oak?) had uprooted and had fallen on to the building. Later that day after zazen meditation and breakfast, walking down along the river and going slightly outside of the Tassajara compound, it became clear that there had been a significant landslide. An usually green side of the canyon had let go, and turned vegetation and rocks upside down, leaving a brown streak, even re routing the river itself by a few yards to the right.
Somehow the phone in Tassajara was also not functioning any longer. No connection, no nothing. This was a different time and things were more primitive then than they are now. The phone was located in a special little outhouse, and somehow you had to turn a crank in order to make a call. Voices on the other side sounded muffled and far away. And that was the only phone for making calls for about 40 peopler so. Things took time and the tenzo (head cook) also needed it to call in the food orders.
At the work meeting that morning Dan Howe and I got a special task. We should find out what was wrong with the phone line, and go fix it. The Tassajara phone was not digital; it was connected to the outside world though a substantial black wire that was strung over the ground for miles and miles.
So, with a backpack and some water and food, we set out along tiny trails and bear paths, to figure out where the wire was broken and fix it. Everything was so beautiful, and fresh, first, close to Tassajara, brutal squeaking Blue Jays and further out, there was a Golden Eagle observing us on a empty tree branch wondering what all our commotion was all about.
Anyhow, after many hours of walking and searching for a rip in the wire, we came to an enormous rock, maybe 11 feet round, that had sliced though the wire coming down —and that was our problem. We fixed it with extra wire and tape and we walked back in the twilight. Now that was a beautiful day.