I acquired the 40 acre piece of land
on Pole Mountain Rd., Cazadero, Sonoma County in 1986. Pomo Indians
and loggers were my only human predecessors, I found myself in the
natural remains of the former and the detritus of the latter. No
one has lived here, although the land was probably once familiar
to the Pomo Indians of the area. I have found arrowheads and chirt
cores. Then there were two major loggings, the first took giant
redwoods, leaving vast stumps which gave birth to second growth,
resulting in a second logging which took place about 30 years ago.
When I arrived only a vast meadow was
accessible, everything else was overgrown, the old logging roads
were covered with downed trees, chaotic evidence of logging, and
years of neglect. To move through the land required a machete, heavy
protective clothes, and a sense of direction. Losing my bearings
was a great treat. I no longer get lost, alas.
Using hand tools I began by clearing
the fallen trees blocking some of the logging roads, then making
small foot paths, usually letting the animal trails serve as guidelines
as to the best way to move through this mysterious space. Most of
the time my passion has been trail making, discovering the many
magical spots and helping to make them visible. The ultimate art
form, I am in a giant canvas, that I can gently help to emerge.
Years later, as the project has grown I have made some of the miles
of paths more visible, so that guests may feel secure in their explorations
of this wilderness.
As soon as I acquired the property
friends wanted to know
‘Where will you put the house?’
What house? This was not going to be about house.
It was all the house.
I am the house.
Lichens, gray, pink, lavender, sea green, they creep across the
rocks, grow into my crevasses and slowly navigate through my neurons.
Leaves tremble in my bloodstream No matter in what direction I gaze
I experience wonder and ecstasy. Why would I want to look at a building?
What vision would I then lose? Then I would always be oriented in
relationship to that structure, “is it to my right? left?
is it behind me? its over there waiting for me.” I didn’t
even want to go into a structure. I taught myself lashing and built
an outdoor kitchen area. I made beds in favorite spots, in trees,
near boulders, Someone gave me, a giant four poster bed made of
telephone poles, which I put in the middle of the vast meadow. Lying
beneath mosquito netting I was intimate with the sky, and the wandering
night animals, waiting for my mountain lion. I never know till evening
where I am going to bed down, it depends on wind, moon, temperature,
my state of mind. I guess you could say that I ‘sleep around’.
I experimented with various indigenous
dwellings, things I could put up with the materials at hand. It
was all about play, in the fields of the lord. Nothing to get too
serious about. There was the Temple to the Goddess of Whimsy in
a clump of boulders. It was all a massive foreplay, which eventually
became the passion of a long relationship. My euphoria would begin
at the bottom of the 2 mile dirt road, and build to our union when
placed my foot on sacred land.
The property had no water, and none
available, so for ten years I brought in my own water. I did not
want to drive across the meadow, so I parked at the edge of the
property and wheeled everything in a wheelbarrow. Nothing was ever
a chore, all seemed worth doing, to be there, in the arms of my
beloved. Now I am buying water from a neighbor, which makes my life
easier and gives some fire protection. Hope for my own water springs
eternal. There is still dowsing and catchment to be explored.
Originally the predominant trees were
redwoods and Douglas firs. I wanted to help them come back, for
now all of the young ones were struggling under the new growth of
tan oaks and bay trees. Eventually I acquired a chain saw to help
me deal with downed trees, but trees that are standing I still thin
out with hand saw. I need to hear them.
The first structure I built was the
yurt, it took over two years to complete, and I have never used
it. During this time I got a small camper, which meant I could be
there in the rain, wind, and have a real nest. It is now gone, I
no longer need it.
Although I have built several small structures, they are the least
important aspects of the land, and creating them is the only thing
I do there that feels like work. Forestry, rock moving, trail making,
whimsical art pieces made of available materials, none of these
are ‘work’, but things I cannot resist doing. Artistic
It is constantly changing, and shortly
after I am gone it will show nothing of my time here.
Through the last 18 years I have called
this entity by several names.
In the beginning was no word. Who was I to impose a name on such
ephemeral magic? But I had to speak of it. “I’m going
up,” “Just came back from the country,” wasn’t
Then it became “THE LAND”. It has never felt like MY
land, I am just a guardian, someone to help reveal its beauty and
share it with others. It is still the name I use most often.
“TALIESEN” is my personal
name for it, I find something rather whimsical in calling this place
where I am doing nothing of great architectural significance after
one of the great pieces of 20th century architecture. Rather tongue
Now the official name is “CAZADERO
NATURE AND ART CONSERVANCEY”: a 40 acre property in Sonoma
County dedicated to the preservation and respectful honoring of
natural habitat with non-invasive art works. It is a place where
artists may exhibit and/or house their works, where ritual and music
is performed, films are made, and artists may retreat from the marketplace.
A poetry festival has taken place in the stone amphitheatre and
Guardian Grove annually since 1996.