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the Wanderling

When I was around eleven or twelve years old or so I spent a couple of summers living lightly on the land like a forest monk on the east side of the High Sierras under the auspices of my Uncle.

At the time I was traveling with my uncle, my two brothers, a cousin, a boy around my age somehow related to my Stepmother by the name of Richard, and a kid my stepmother picked-up the tab on we called Bub President Hudson. The kid was the son of some movie actress my dad or uncle knew that went on-and-on continuously all day and night telling us that his mom was a spy and that she went to school with Tarzan.[1]

During one of the summers my stepmother visited the main camp area for a few days. She was a beautiful woman with her hair swept up in the late 1940s fashion, sporting open toed heels and bright red nails. An unusual sight in any campground.

One afternoon she pointed out a lone tree standing all by itself on the side of the mountain across the valley above the tree line. I had noticed the same tree many times and when she stated she was going to climb up there one day and water it. Thinking the tree might be a thousand years old and wondering how it ever got water in the first place, the idea intrigued me.

She never did climb up to the tree, but after she left, the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. None of my brothers or others in the camp were interested nor up to it, so early one morning before sunrise I started out alone.

Just below the mountain I filled a five gallon jeep can with as much water as I could carry from the stream that fed the lakes, tied a rope on the can and dragged it up the mountain. By late mid-morning or so I reached the lonely tree tired and exhausted. My fatique was soon forgotten as the view of the valley was fantastic. I understood why the tree located itself there. I dug a circular ditch around the base of the trunk, then slowly poured water into it. The water gurgled for a while, foamed brown a little, then sank into the soil.

Then, just as I was about to sit down it came to me the base of the tree was all mud. My intention was to sit and lean against the tree in the shade and take in the view. Instead the ground around the trunk was soggy and I laid a short distance away from the tree in the shade cast, looking toward the clear blue sky and the occasional wistful cloud floating by, the sky dotted here and there by the graceful glide of my unknown to me and one-day-to-come Totem Animal, the giant wingspan condor-like Turkey Vulture slipping effortlessly on the rising Sierra thermals.

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There I was miles from camp having hauled fifty pounds of water up the side of a mountain for the roots of a tree that was doing quite well by itself and had been for years, thank you very much, and I saved no water for myself nor had I thought of bringing food. My only thought when I left camp was giving water to the tree. When I brought the gift, after pouring it, I couldn't even lean against the tree or feel it's touch. True, I shared it's shade, but not it's touch. In the end I walked back down the mountain alone, hungry and thristy for not having done more. When I arrived back in camp late in the afternoon my brothers and the others were playing and swimming in the creek. Except for my Uncle no one had realized I was even gone.

That which is me that people recall will cease to exist in it's present form one day, returning to the broader mix for other things in the universe to use...maybe even as part of an offspring of that tree on the side of that mountain. That would be nice.


It was one of the two summers, either the summer of 1949 or 1950, when I climbed the mountain to water the tree. It was also during one of those summers that I met Franklin Merrell-Wolff, a man of great Spiritual Attainment at his isolated High Sierra compound. At the time I was around 11 or 12 years old. Twenty years later found my uncle and I together once again on a road trip similar to the earlier ones of my youth. This road trip, sometime around 1970 or so, came about because my 65 year-old-plus father (i.e., my uncle's brother) had been caught in a fire while on the job. He ended up with a collapsed lung and a good portion of his skin burned and most of his hair gone. Because his outlook was grim, I contacted my uncle who lived in Santa Fe. He inturn came to see him. As it was, my dad held on, although never fully recovering, dying of complications from the fire two years later.

After learning my father's health was fair at the time of his visit, considering his age and what had happened to him --- as well as spending several days together talking over old times, my uncle decided to head back home. In that it had been many, many years since he had been on the west coast and since he was in the L.A. area he went to see his old friend, cowboy western author Louis L'Amour taking me with him. He also decided to return home the long way by going north along the eastern slopes of the High Sierras and try to make contact with another of his old friends, Franklin Merrell-Wolff as well --- and, like I write in a couple of places in my stuff on the internet (of which you can click through to using the links provided below) I went along. By accessing the second of the two links the following can be found:

"Prior to the trip, the last time I had seen my uncle was in Taos a couple of years before. Since that time the events I describe in Dark Luminosity had transpired and because of that he wanted to see what I called my High Mountain Zendo plus catch up, if possible, with an old friend he had introduced me to when I was a young boy, Frankling Merrell-Wolff --- as told in The Tree --- hence our trip to the High Sierras. I continued to tag along on his return trip home to Santa Fe."

There is sort of an implication by inference that, since I was traveling with my uncle I joined him during his visit to see Merrell-Wolff, --- meaning I would have crossed paths with Merrell-Wolff in 1970 as well. However, such was not the case. Even though I was traveling with my uncle I had opted out going to Merrell-Wolff's. Instead I requested he leave me off near Big Pine and from there I went to the White Mountains somewhat east of Merrell-Wolff's to seek solitude at the 10,000 foot level and meditate among the ancient bristlecone pines and at the base of the 48 century old Methuselah Tree just for the heck of it.

I knew about the bristlecone pines because during one of those 1949 or 1950 summers that we were camping in the High Sierras a Forest Ranger named Al Noren, who operated south of us in Inyo county came into our camp in Mono county --- on unofficial business --- looking for my uncle, having heard he had a strong reputation for being a rather successful biosearcher. Noren took us to a grove of the ancient trees growing around the 10,000 foot level in the White Mountains, telling us many trees were over 4000 years old. There he showed us a huge bristlecone he called or named the Patriarch Tree, which eventually turned out to be largest bristlecone pine known. The same strand of trees or a similar one nearby was eventually named the Methuselah Grove because of the ancient age of the bristlecone pines that make up the grove. We returned to camp and went back to swimming in the creek, collecting arrowheads, and living off the land for the rest of the summer. A couple of years later, in 1953, Noren contacted Edmund Schulman, a bigtime dendrochronologist at the University of Arizona and showed him the same stuff he showed my uncle. Schulman, who died in 1958, has gone on to be given credit as the one who discovered that bristlecone pines are the oldest trees in the world.


Their Life and Times Together


Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.












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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


The boy we called Bub President Hudson was a very young boy, the youngest in our group. Where he came from none of us knew, he just showed up one day and started living with us. Like I say, my stepmother was always taking in strays. How he could have come up with such a story about his mom being a spy and going to school with Tarzan by just making it up out of whole cloth as well as having the last name Hudson, is beyond comprehension if it was not so --- especially if you take into consideration and compare what he said in relation to the background of an actress my uncle knew named Rochelle Hudson.

Hudson (1916-1972) was a starlet starting at age 13. She was also a longtime family friend of Edgar Rice Burroughs the author/creator of Tarzan The Ape Man. She and her mother lived close to the Burroughs estate and they eventually became close friends of the Burroughs family, with Rochelle often being given rides to school by Burroughs' son Jack and going on vacations with them.

During a good part of World War II Hudson lived in Hawaii with her second husband, a naval officer stationed there. Her film career had been interrupted before going to Hawaii starting with the years just prior to the war and into it's early years when she worked as a spy for the Naval Intelligence Service. She and her husband, as a civilian, were doing espionage work primarily in Mexico, but also Central and South America as well. Together they posed as a vacationing couple to detect if there was any Japanese of German fifth column activity in those areas.

Rochelle Hudson was not known to have had any children.



For more on Rochelle Hudson's Naval Intelligence work in Mexico and her interaction with a young Clement Meighan and the Wanderling's uncle see: