Since that grand finale of a vision the years have rolled-by fast.
Though I have yet to qualify for the "rocking-chair," I have started
to slow down physically. I still volunteer out in the field, but not
as much. As for my career as a cultural anthropologist, it also
has been on the wane. If anything, I have traveled more--visiting
national parks, of course!
Sometimes I have taken my camper, going off to wonderful
places like Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, and the
Grand Canyon. These parks are always thrilling for me. And
what with my advancing age, I have discovered a more
luxurious and easier mode of travel: the cruise. Hence I've
gone up and down the Pacific coastline, like to Glacier National
Park in Alaska and over to the Baja Lagoons in Mexico.
And--now-- as my energy slowly diminishes, I am finding myself
sitting more often by the San Diego Bay. Oddly, I prefer the bay
to the ocean. The Pacific Ocean is way too vast, I guess, and
always thunderous with its pounding waves. There's distractions,
too! Too many kite surfers, zipping around at tremendous
speeds. My part of the bay has more placid distractions, like
gliding sailboats with beautiful billowing sails. The bay lends a
calm for me, quiet, where I can more readily clarify my thoughts.
Quite often I wonder over that magnificent last vision I experienced,
now some years back. As my Indian spirit guide said, "Guard well
our precious home." If somehow he had put this message in past
tense, I would have understood what he said more clearly.
If put in past tense, I could have quickly presumed that he was
talking about me--giving me a "kudo," if you will. It's not that I
deserve any praise for my achievements, but rather I should give
thanks to my Indian spirit guide for leading me into a truly bountiful
career as both a park ranger-naturalist and a cultural anthropologist.
I couldn't have been happier (or lucky).
Overall, I really had to look beyond myself when it came to
interpreting this final vision. As for the word "guard," well that is
about protecting, watching over, keeping something safe. My
thoughts flowed into this line of thinking, into a broader context.
The "Guard," all those guardians who manned, helped out, worked
at our great parks, at our wildlands, were surely the ones who my
Indian spirit guide addressed. The Guard were those professionals
and attendents with organizations such as the National Park
Service, the U.S. Forestry Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service,
the Bureau of Land Management, and all the State Parks Services.
Beyond this, there are the thousands upon thousands of volunteers
at these special natural enclaves.
I think about the volunteers at the Tijuana Estuary, young and old,
skilled, unskilled--all dedicated. Within the National Park Service
there are Junior Ranger volunteers, oft an offshoot of the Boy
Scouts of America. And now in the Age of the Internet, there are
the WebRangers--a learning activity that involves not only students
but teachers in the classroom. WebRangers are children who can
explore and participate in our national parks, becoming more
eco-literate and historically informed.
And though I never moved much into the present-day Environmental
Movement, surely those who work towards gaining new laws--and
attending to old laws--that protect our national parks and wildlands
can surely be considered part of this special Guard.