The influence of place – a particular landscape, its peoples, climate, agriculture, economy, history, and so on – is a central concern running throughout my writing. As I kid, geography was a popular subject for me, soon augmented by geology. My bedroom walls were lined with National Geographic maps. Heavens! And that was before we added all of the hiking and camping perspectives, including a bit of caving in southern Indiana and Kentucky.
Later, when I was living in the ashram, Swami returned from her first visit to India and expressed her conviction that each place emitted unique vibrations. She said the particular deity of the place was an expression of that awareness.
In the years since, I’ve sometimes felt the sensation of a Quaker meetinghouse or burial ground being at hand – and then let myself be led there. Seriously! That happened the first time I was in Dover and introduced me to the house where I now worship.
My four years living in the desert country of the Pacific Northwest added to that awareness. It was a climate unlike anything I’d previously experienced, and much of the land remained close to its Native American culture, with its mythology deeply rooted in the land itself. You could feel it, if you shut your eyes and let go. I wish we had more of the stories from New England, where I now live, or even the Midwest, where I was born and raised. I’m grateful for what’s been preserved, all the same.
So this is the basis of Kokopelli’s Hornpipe. I call it a novel, short as it is, because of its fictional characters of Kokopelli and the Cricket Fiddler as they explore the place I’ve called Katonkah Valley, carved by the Katonkah River and home of the Katonkah Native peoples. But it’s also a set of reflections, perhaps even an homage to Barry Holstun Lopez or Annie Dillard.
It also serves as a set of background notes to the events in the early novels in my Northwest Passion series – this time, without the romance and sexual entanglements.
Well, Kokopelli? He could point a finger at Coyote, deflect your attention.
Listen to the song, then, as you may.
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