If you read Book One, you know Haalpatee was Nokosee's pet 18-foot gator. Haalpatee is Muskogee for "alligator." I named our daughter Haalie after him. But when we first met, he scared the shit out of me. Say what you will about these kinds of animals, I know he tried to save us from rednecks bent on killing us as they chased us down with their airboats on a moonlit night in the Everglades. His death was unconscionable, done at the hands of some tobacco chewing beer gut wielding sick fucks to teach Nokosee a lesson. Their grizzly deaths and scalpings at the hands of Busimanolotome Osceola, Nokosee's father and founder of the New Seminoles, were well deserved. Looking back, if it hadn't been for Haalpatee, I don't think Nokosee and I would be alive, and Haalie would never have seen the light of day.
Reading David Abram's The Spell of Sensuous brought back a host of memories, good and bad. And it also made me think about that big ol' gator-- who walked like a crab because he was blind in one eye-- in a different light, that he and "all God's Creatures Big and Small" and the plants they live amongst and feed upon are like us-- "experiencing forms." That is to say we share much when it comes to sensing the world around us; that we are brothers and sisters to warmth and cold, light and dark, birth and death, and the joys of sex in its many variations. They also know things we don't about how to live in this world and we shouldn't be dismissive of them, that we might just learn a thing or two about how to live here, and that we should respect their staying power. And, although we don't need to "stop bathing" or "forming a cult," paraphrasing the Gilmore Girls, life in all of its forms has "much knowledge."
If you read my books you know in Book One Nokosee and I met when he was on a Vision Quest. The Everglades was on fire at that time and he took time off of his busy schedule during his Walkabout in the swamp to save my life. In Book Two, I had my own Vision Quest to prove I was New Seminole worthy. Both of ours began in a smoke hut where our prime directive was to seek out a vision to guide us on our way. As much as I tried, I was getting nothing except short of breath and lots of coughing. Nokosee on the other hand saw the above where a rainbow turns into lightning.
When I asked him if had seen me, too, you know, because of our fated paths and because of my nickname which is pretty "Stormy," he told me in his deadpanned Hollywood-movie-Indian-monotone-voice he resurrects everytime he tries to be funny, "You know, leetle girl,* it not always bout you."
"Oh, Nokosee, you're no fun," I said.
"Oh, daddy, you're no fun," Haalpate echoed.
Daddy almost laughed so I pressed on to see if I could make him.
"You mean you didn't see me at the end of the rainbow?"
"No, Holatte-Sutv Turwv. But I did see you at the lightning strike. Your mo was on fire and you were smokin'."
"Yeah, smokin hot."
"Yeah, smokin hot," Haalpate replied.
Nokosee and I both turned to our baby girl, now three, born in the Everglades with fire and death all around as the New Seminole fought for their lives. We looked at each other. He wanted to laugh. I did
But he did smile. Proudly.
*Leetle girl was what his dad Busimanolotome Osceola, founder of the New Seminole, use to call me when he wanted to put me down. Later it became a term of affection.
But nobody heard it and the world burned the hell up. The End.
Or so the story could go. According to Greta we don't have much time left to change the ending to a happy one. Paraphrasing that great line from Cool Hand Luke, "what we have here is a failure to communicate with nature." Scientists call it “Nature-Deficit Disorder” (NDD) because we have disconnected from nature through the use of technology. Beyond the destruction of Gaia, this disconnect has negative mental and physical health consequences. But studies have shown that people with NDD and their “modern” ailments, such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression feel better when exposed to nature. And the cure starts when you PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE!
So, again paraphrasing another famous line from Timothy Leary to our grandparents, "Tune In (to Nature), Turn On (to Nature), Drop In (to Nature) to save us all. Before it's too damn late.
It's hard to ignore the climate crisis with sweat running down your face. Unless, of course, you're a sweltering idiot, a Republican, or a climate change denier.
That "screaming heat skull of death" appeared on a weather map over France on June 20th. Temperatures reached 104° Fahrenheit. Still, this heat wave was nothing compared to the 2003 one that killed 15,000 people across France.
Now U.S. presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg is vowing to create a National Climate Corps if elected. He cites the U.S. military, the Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps as inspiration for his National Climate Corps -- which would more than QUADRUPLE the service opportunities available to high schoolers and recent graduates.
As much as Nokosee and I like this guy, I don't think he has a chance in America no matter how smart he is or how much he would make a great president. Despite serving six years in Navy Intel and deploying to Afghanistan for six months and being a popular South Bend, Indiana mayor (since 2012), this charming 37-year-old is openly gay and married. That's all it takes for his party to disqualify him from representing them against Trump because sadly, the Democrats want someone "safe," who isn't too radical in politics or life.
Which is exactly opposite of what this country and Gaia need. Playing it safe won't save us from a world on fire.
Finds Them & Kills Them, aka Osh-Tisch, was a famous Lakota warrior who was born a male and married a female, but adorned himself in women’s clothing and lived daily life as a female. Billy Bob Odom was a gay redneck cracker living in a broken down trailer in a broken down micro town just off the Tamiami Trail on the edge of the Everglades called Copeland. If you read my second book, you'll remember him as the guy who provided an "undercover" van to get me, Nokosee, and his 14-year-old sister Jerryragni to Hialeah so she could live with her mom's sister. At the time the raging war with Uncle Sam was getting heated and dangerous so Ma and Pa Osceola decided to get her the hell out of there.
Finds Them And Kills Them was the New Seminole link to the Outside world and proved to be a real bad ass when it came to fighting for Gaia. Once a Marine (I know, and always a Marine) he was skilled in hand-to-hand combat and a weapons master, from a machete to an AK. In short, he wasn't one to mess with when you got him riled.
That said, he taught me how to apply my warpaint, what brand to use-- Maybelline was the NS brand of choice because of how it stood up in the humidity-- and introduced me to the work of Native American fashion designers. Those beaded boots you see in the picture are by Jamie Okuma. A pair just like them are behind glass in the National Museum of the American Indian.
It's when I was hanging with the NS that I learned Native Americans had no problem with being gay. In fact "Two Spirit" people were highly revered and families that included them were considered blessed. Native Americans believe a person who is able to "see the world through the eyes of both genders at the same time was a gift from The Creator." You can learn more here.
One is 29 and the youngest member of Congress ever. The other is 16 and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee ever. Both have become the most powerful voices on the front lines of saving Gaia, galvanizing millions of people around the world to make their countries take action against the rapidly approaching melt down of the planet. Using a video link, The Guardian brought them together to talk to each other for the first time. Click the link to read the conversation. Hopefully both will meet in Miami in a few weeks at the Youth Climate Summit to talk in person and to formulate a winning plan to sway our governments to save ourselves.
Gurl power at its best.
If you read my books, you know I have a real problem with Crocs. I can't stand looking at them. It has to be one of the ugliest shoes ever made, second maybe only to that Dutch Frankenstein monster called the wooden shoe. When the New Seminole (NS) hijacked a semi truck along Alligator Alley and discovered its hideous shipment of Crocs in a rainbow of colors, instead of retreating in horror, they took armloads with them and started wearing them in the Everglades. Yeah, they were great for trampling through mud and water but it was real hard for me to take any of the NS seriously after that, especially when they saw themselves as the modern day version of Geronimo's small Apache band. The only thing the NS had in common with those poor, starving Natives on the run from Uncle Sam was our leader (Busimanolotome Osceola was tough and brave like Geronimo) and the fact we were on the run from the same bastard, too. But then we also looked like a bunch of big-footed clowns trampling through the swamp.
And now, the aesthetically challenged minds behind this hideous clodhopper have introduced high-heeled Crocs. Of course, Nokosee-- who took a liking to the original versions back then-- reminds me that since Crocs now have a high-heel, they will help keep NS feet dry and only wished they'd come out with them in camo.
I look him in the eyes to see if he's BSing me but that guy can keep a straight face better than anyone I've met. And since I've already seen him and his dad wearing the original chokeamokes, it's not too hard picturing my big hunk of man traipsing around the swamp in these high-heeled abominations from hell.
It makes me shudder and I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
As for me, give me camo platforms anytime.
Good news on the home front to save Gaia! After a two-year legal battle between a small group of Gaia-loving lawyers and the Trump administration's top legal teams, EarthJustice was able to stop the construction of a 43-mile pipeline through Mojave Trails National Monument. This pipeline would have enabled a company to pump massive amounts of groundwater (16-billion gallons of water a year) out of ancient desert aquifers — putting desert ecosystems and public health at risk. In a nutshell, this plan, defended by the Trump administration, "extracted private profits from beneath public lands" at the public's-- and Gaia's-- peril.
But not this time around thanks to the lawyers at EarthJustice and a judge who saw the light. You can learn more about the legal battle here.
You know Nokosee, Haalie, and I love her. As you can see, she'll be participating in the Zero Hour Youth Climate Summit in Miami this July. Hopefully the city and county will give her a welcome that she deserves, one usually reserved for "dignitaries." Hopefully some of you who read my blog will be able to attend. She is truly an inspiration and will soon be the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner ever! Mark my words.
Flipped on the TV this morning and the first thing I saw is this story about another Everglades fire. In two days it has burned 18,000 acres. They think a lightning strike set it off. To me it's a continuing reminder of what Busimanolotome Osceola, founder of the New Seminole, loved to say, that dark matter, that stuff between the stars and atoms no one knows bupkus about, is really irony. In this case, how ironic Gaia is on fire only a few miles away from Miami where, in a few days, a whole slew of Democrats running for President will debate each other. Unlike the Repugs who don't believe there is a climate crisis, I suspect there won't be any Dems against the science. The only question is, which one will use the Everglades fire in his or her debate first.
Still, seeing yet another summer fire in the Everglades, it immediately made me think about how I met Nokosee and how my life quickly changed from a high school party girl working weekends at the local Hot Topic to making the FBI's Most Wanted List before the end of summer vacation.
After all, it was an Everglades fire that brought Nokosee and me together. If you read my books you know my dad, the "Great White Park Ranger" of the Everglades thought it would be a good idea to bring me along with his fire-fighting crew to put out an Everglades fire. Figured it would build character in me since, apparently, I didn't have any. I was 17, just graduated from high school, and spending the last divorce court ordered summer with my old man in a place that seemed perpetually on fire. Despite my heated objections to his cockamame plan, I soon found myself helicoptered out into the middle of nowhere and dropped off in the center of a raging fire with dad and the rest of the firefighters. Within seconds I was engulfed in smoke and ash. Within minutes I was lost. When I heard the chopper rising into the smoke covered sky, I knew I was in deeper shit than anyone had a right to be. Dad says he thought I had climbed on board, thought the guy coughing his lungs out in the back was me. A few hours later, after stumbling through sawgrass and fire and nearly getting eaten by an alligator, Nokosee found me. He was on a "Walkabout," something his equally nutcase dad had dreamed up. Borrowing the idea from a movie he saw, Busimanolotome was making his son traverse the burning Everglades-- barefoot, mind you-- to discover "The Outside." Before he got there, he discovered me, the first white person he had ever seen. Well, the rest is history. We fell in love by the time we stumbled through one adventure after another before finally stumbling into The Outside, a Miccosukee tourist trap along the Tamiami Trail. Within a few hours of "coming home," my new boyfriend had broken dad's nose in a fist fight and mom had shot him in the arm. With cops on our tails and Nokosee with a bullet wound, we hightailed it back into the Everglades. And then, well, I chickened out. No matter how much I loved Nokosee, I wasn't ready to shuck all The Outside had to offer and so, like the the spoiled and shallow child I was back then, I turned away.
And immediately regretted it. I never cried so hard or hated myself so much.
It wasn't until I got back home to Milltown, NJ, that I discovered I was pregnant. And had to get back to Nokosee.
Yeah, so Everglades fires never fail to trigger my thoughts on how it all began.
Holatte-Sutv Turwv Osceola.