Her entire life people wanted for Mabel McKay, world-renowned Pomo basket-maker, traditional Pomo medicine woman, and the last Dreamer of the Cache Creek Pomo tribe in Northern California to explain the inside so that they could understand the mechanics of a healer and Dreamer who had miraculous things happen around her. In many instances Mabel would say, "You have to know me." This sounds like an oversimplification that if one got close to her one could have comprehended the "secrets" of this basket weaver who was known as the best of the Pomo basket weavers, and whose designs with coiled reeds, patterns and feathers stand out from any created. Hers is in fact a deeper statement of unspoken truths of which she knew there was no reason or way to simply explain. In fact, the opposite was true. Explaining would itself be misleading had she done so. That would have implied that there was something to be "had" or "used." She frustrated many people in what seemed like a refusal when in fact it was a guiding. Most audiences with her wanted fast answers, something profound yet able to be packaged, bottled, instantly applied, consumed: life ready to consume life. The implications of her words go far deeper.
She knew that a soul's recognition did not have to do with an intellectual meeting and whose timing is a very long process, impossible to be grabbed in a moment's notice. It is a recognition that steps out of clock time and human reason, and is "timeless, endless, something familiar and forever" (112). She also knew that one cannot "seek recognition" with another's being, that "recognition" is different from "seeking." Seeking, in one way, is done by the will and the mind. In another way it is done by the heart that knows it has to find something of which it doesn't quite know the full expression but continually needs to articulate this something it knows, until the moment it finds that recognition in another and then there is a surety and an accompanying calmness never felt before. A peace sets in. A deeper level is struck. It is internal proof of a different way of knowing. Recognition doesn't "do" it is. It is in its own time—an eternal time, out of step with the human will. It is in fact sometimes a not recognizing on the road to recognizing. Often times, one knows what it isn't. Mabel was certain of what it wasn't. She could tell when there wasn't recognition upon encounter with no passage of time. While it was evident in the presence of the person, the behavior and actions of the other person immediately showed it also. It was in the eyes and the demeanor, a blankness. For Mabel, recognizing and knowing there was no recognition were as distinctly different as day and night. She could also immediately tell ill-intent. As a child, she picked up on it before others around her knew a presence meant harm.
So why put explanatory words to Mabel's inner workings here and now? In American culture where it seems immense wealth is imminently possible, just out of reach, highly visible and attainable, and where fame promises a new sense of self-possession, new kinds of endless freedom, and that ever-present need to be known finally fulfilled in a recognition—not by one or two souls, but by everyone—and furthermore a promise to be remembered and therefore live on into immortality—are the goals then readily sought after. Wealth and fame appear to be the ultimate time. In this culture where there's little reason to pay one's dues, where there's a pill to fix nearly any ailment, when there's no reason to work towards the seemingly near-sighted goals of previous generations and when there is that all-consuming state of feeling entitled there is also a level of anxiety and frustration that can become a deep-seated resentment and negativity set loose at any target one finds. Most often this happens to be aimed at the nearest, largest, easiest target possible. As the internet brings a completely different time in communication, this spirit of the times—this frustration of wanting more—is directed outward. The not having internally, the not knowing, that constant consuming turns to hostility. It looks like wealth and fame could answer it immediately. Learning or growing up is hardly a consideration.
Mabel had large groups coming to see her and many people the world over wanting to meet her. In this, however, was a delineated way of being where communication was limited. The audiences had their demands and expectations in place and had mentally set their own stage for what they wanted from her—to give them the immediate remedy, plain and simple, and in return she could have fame, wealth and attention. What those who met her and the audiences had predetermined as what they wanted from her were actually an instant barrier to knowing. It was a wall stopping—even prohibiting—contemplation of what they could come to know. Their expectations were the opposite of what she was. Ironically, in her hands she would usually be holding an open-vesseled basket she was weaving and would be talking about how the Spirit (or universe) had taught her to make it. What the audience wanted was the tangible, salable "secret." The only way to actually know what she was saying was through a deep contemplation. She wasn't shutting it off to them, she repeated over and over what it was.
The words she chose to describe her way of knowing give a clear picture upon contemplation. She is called a Dreamer because she saw and knew things other people didn't see. She had been demonstrating since she was a child that there was a Dream going on in her mind tied to what she was born knowing and also hearing from the Spirit as she grew. She was being taught songs and later, how healing would occur. What was happening with her, especially apparent when she was mumbling and learning when she was asleep, was visibly incongruent with the actions and reality others perceived around her. The way she was stood out as an oddity which many people did not understand. In the Cache Creek Pomo tribe, however, it was recognized because there had been others before her, namely, her grandmother's father, the medicine man Old Man Taylor. The first section of the book is in fact called, "Sarah Taylor's Granddaughter," showing this important lineage.
Mabel's simple words in later years, "You have to know me" were alluding to the inner workings of a person seeing and knowing something else and also being spoken to by the universe. Someone in front of her then, who doesn't see these things was going to have a limited, often times judgmental perspective about what was happening. That fact did not create in Mabel an obligation to change or alter her own perception—of which she was certain—or to give it up, for example, to meet their expectations or make it an attraction. She was fully aware of the limited view outside of her almost as if it were like a humorous situation in which a kindergarten class was determining for that day what she would be limited to knowing. It just wasn't possible to stop knowing nor to demonstrate their absence of comprehension. The best and most gentle way to communicate was to guide as simply as possible. In one way, this wasn't important to her because of things she knew. She wasn't looking for wealth or attention and those whom she knew she did need to communicate with according to her Dream were known to her and different from these audiences. There were special people she was aware of from her Dream with whom that communication would be extremely important. Although not minding talking to audiences, it was not her purpose of which she was fully aware. Marking a record, however, was part of the purpose. To communicate on down the line, she would need this kind of non-communication recorded so that it would document and speak to the intended person or audience. In hindsight it appears to be an elaborate plan but Mabel's words and actions were based on listening to something larger than herself that was speaking, following a sure-feeling, deep conscious certainty of knowing and also of being constantly aware of what it wasn't.
The way that Mabel did describe the way she was is that she had been having a Dream since she was born and that the Spirit talked to her, taught her the ways and the songs, told her how to heal by extracting illness and pain, how to make baskets, each one of these made for a specific person or purpose that the Spirit told her. It would tell her about people, about who she would recognize, certain things that would happen, and how things would go. It taught her songs for particular occasions and specific use. It would tell her when not to worry.
In Mabel's Dream she has been told she would have two helpers who would be important to her in her life. One was a medicine woman like herself who turned out to be the world-renowned Kashaya Wintun Pomo medicine woman Essie Parrish and the other is revealed through the pages of the book, that person unaware of the larger role being played throughout. What Mabel does revolves around her awareness of these things from her Dream. She continues living a simple life while this Dream is being played out and she can see it happening. A grander recognition, she knows, is going to take time, however, and will be after she is gone. Every act of hers is a contribution to what that audience will need to know.
This telling is the path the book takes, author Greg Sarris telling Mabel's life story the way in which she tells it—simply and matter-of-factly when she talks about the Spirit or her Dream, her basket weaving or her doctoring, but more centering on descriptions of her grandmother who raised her and the lineage, the old tribal lands where they lived that had become ranch land but where and how important things to her and the lineage had happened in those places. Like some other Native American texts, the narrative weaves with these explanations of where this lineage was and what was happening with descriptions of who each person is as Mabel grows up and begins basket weaving and doctoring and how the people in this small lineage remaining of the Lolsel Cache Creek Pomo tribe are related in the larger whole. Mabel is not reliving the past, not telling stories about the whole tribe itself, and she is not trying to go back. When Greg asks her if she thinks of the way things were before the white people came she simply asks him why she would want to do that.
Throughout the book Mabel tells the author Greg Sarris her lineage stories and over the years that he knows her—from the time he is a homeless twelve year old into his adulthood completing his PhD and returning to write and teach at UCLA in 1989 and until her passing in 1993—she tells him the same family stories over and over again. In trying to write the book about the way she is and her life story and to give insight into her being a medicine woman and Dreamer, Greg found it frustratingly difficult to get clear, relatable answers from Mabel that could be expounded upon and could structure and sell a book. This did not concern Mabel when he would tell her his frustrations. She was telling simple daily-life stories of her with her grandmother, the last years of this Cache Creek Pomo lineage, the important spots that became forgotten creek beds on a ranch and of Essie Parrish's friendship and role and what would seemingly become the end of these Pomo Dreamers who worked for many years until retirement in an apple cannery while doing their doctoring and ceremonies on the side. While it seems like Mabel was not aware of the kinds of material it would take to fill a book about a medicine woman and Dreamer, she holds to what she knows she has to say. Her stories remain on the seemingly insignificant daily lives and connections of this time and place of the last of these Pomo Dreamers.
What is demonstrated in these simple stories is what specific encounters are like for a Pomo Dreamer in what is now an Anglo world for them. Sarah, Mabel's grandmother, readily recognizes what the girl is even though she does not know how to take care of her and how to help her with her life—especially now in an Anglo culture. Cache Creek and the traditions and ceremonies of the old Roundhouse are no longer there. The other Dreamers of her line—her great uncle Richard Taylor and her great grandfather Old Man Taylor—have passed. Sarah protects her and wishes she had the help of her father who would know how to help her. Mabel's mother, Daisy, on the other hand, does not recognize nor value Mabel's state of being. She gives her to her mother to raise and when Mabel is twelve she returns and tries to sell her to a sixty year old man as a wife. On more than one occasion she tries to make a sale of her. Other stories also demonstrate what it means to be recognized and valued or not. After Sarah leaves Cache Creek with Mabel the misguided stories people have heard cause some to be suspicious of Sarah and Mabel. While these things are happening Mabel is also describing what she is hearing from the Spirit about what her life will be like and how she will learn to heal others. The text then is not about what it takes to be a Dreamer or hear the Spirit or how to make baskets that carry that presence or how to write Songs from the Spirit but on one level is about how it is to be a Dreamer in a hostile culture of non-dreamers. She is showing that in a culture where everything is for fast and hard sale she isn't recognized or valued but what she can do is. Her life and work then takes delicate maneuvering around the inherent problems and dangers. Some are going to want to know her gifts and will come to see her or ask in a group setting and demand fast answers. There are others, however, who will go much further.
There are three levels of recognition happening with the stories Mabel tells. Mabel understands the future importance of a focused message to be delivered not in her time. She does not say this in the text explicitly nor tell this to anyone and not to Greg. It is part of what she knows—including the fact that she knows someone will recognize without being told recognition is to happen. Explaining this would cause it to be used for immediate consumption by an audience—present or future—that does not know her or actually have recognition. Essie Parrish has directed Mabel to lock the ceremonial Roundhouse when Essie passes because it will be a long time before the next Dreamer comes. Essie tells her:
I will go before you. I will leave this earth before you. Then you must lock the Roundhouse. There will be no more true Dream Dances here. A lot of fakes will come out, dance around. No more true Dances until the next true Dreamer comes. But no one who knew me will be that person, that Dreamer. That person will come in the future quite a ways, I guess. Anyway, you'll be the one to lock the Roundhouse. Close to when that time comes I'll explain more to you about that (111).
Mabel is aware throughout the text that the "white way" of telling the story would not deliver a way for recognition in the future, although at one point she does give a recording of events that will give further indication. Mabel describes "the white way" when she humorously describes her biography:
I was born in Nice, Lake County, California. 1907, January 12. My mother, Daisy Hansen. My father, Yanta Boone. Grandma raised me. Her name, Sarah Taylor. I followed everywhere with her. I marry once in Sulphur Bank. Second time I marry Charlie McKay. We live in Lake County, then Ukiah, then Santa Rosa. I weave baskets, and show them different places. Have son, Marshall. Now grandkids, too. My tribe, Pomo.
There, how's that? That's how I can tell my life for the white people's way. Is that what you want? It's more, my life. It's not only the one thing. It's many. You have to listen. You have to know me to know what I'm talking about.
Mabel tells Greg,"You try to do things white way. On account you're mixed up. You don't know who you are yet. But you're part of my Dream. One day you'll find out." This is the second layer of recognition that is happening within the text as Greg is trying to find his own lineage. This is important in two ways: it gets Greg to write the text and discover part of his purpose in the writing and it shows along the way what is important and what is not. Greg continually talks about all the people that he has met in his tribe in searching for his family and he is warned away from this. Mabel ignores his stories about all the different people he is related to or about his plans to write other stories. Often times she acts as if she has not even heard him, showing him the unimportance of what he is saying. Essie tells him plainly even when he is only twelve and she has just seen him for the first time: "You're lost, running crazy, and that's when a person is weak" (48). Greg's running is the first indication that he is unaware of the larger role he plays. It also shows that he does not recognize yet what he will come to know.
Mabel is trying to get Greg to concentrate on one small portion of the Taylor lineage. Even though he does not have recognition with her or with the stories and she is aware of this, she wants him to tell the stories this way so that this small lineage of the Dreamers is told not in any other way but in the way she is saying. Although he does not have recognition, she keeps on with him never allowing him to get her off track although he continually tries. His recognition, important for the future complete story, is of a different kind. He learns near the end that Mabel knew he was coming into her life, that he was part of her Dream and that he was the one all along who would tell the stories and through the point of view of non-recognition. After learning the stories, he also finds that he had been connected to these happenings even before his birth. He finds in his searching that his own lineage has been tied to Essie Parrish's at a point where a medicine man ancestor carried on two identities. His being lost has brought him to the point he was always coming towards. Because Mabel is clearly aware that Greg does not have recognition with her she knows the stories will be told the way she tells them without explanation when Greg is writing the text. He cannot describe what it means to be a Dreamer. He can only write what she has told him over and over and come to discover his own role. When at the end Greg asks Mabel why him, she tells him, "Because you kept coming back." He remains unaware that he is delivering a message for the Dreamers. In a simple manner he has believed his path has been about him and not a much larger picture.
In the telling of the Taylor lineage, Mabel describes her time growing up with her grandmother Sarah Taylor. When Mabel was three she recognized that a man was a poisoner. Through the incident Sarah understood that the man was aware "the girl was different, that she had something powerful and old" and that was what he was after, to use poison on Sarah and get to Mabel. Mabel tells of how Sarah was often aware that they were being followed and watched. Even going down to a river to wash clothes Sarah can feel eyes on her. She watches the horses' heads that show their agitation at a presence. Mabel describes being tracked many times throughout her life. In this incident when Mabel is a child her grandmother knows that the sight of the girl brings up an old history in people's minds, that she:
. . . called up Lolsel, or Wild Tobacco, the ancient village place where Sarah was born, and where now only her sister Belle remained . . . Lolsel, where Sarah's brother, Richard, began the Dream religion, where he called people from far and near to hear his Dreams, where people listened and began Dreaming themselves, Dreaming new dances and songs, sacred activities that would keep them alive after the white people had taken everything but their souls to Dream (8).
This being tracked throughout her life was uncomfortable but Mabel did not take action against it in the several times she tells of being watched, followed, and her friends targeted. It was inevitable. Ill-willed individuals would learn these things about her and follow her, hiding behind buildings and watching her comings and goings, looking for a way to have what she was, find the in-road and if nothing else, do harm. She tells of baskets made of red Woodpecker feathers left to cause harm and of first seeing a red poison ground in a cave. Essie once told her when they were being followed by a man, "He's got the power to track people" (129). Greg asks her why the trackers are like that and Mabel says someone must have taught them to be that way and for all time since ancient times they have separated themselves and are not part of the village or community.
Mabel's awareness is centered on what she knows of the Dreamers. She tells of Lolsel and of the Taylor lineage:
But Lolsel was always special. Always a place of powerful people, astonishing events. The small valley tucked in the hills, where strong medicine grew. Where white eagles appeared to people and traded doctoring songs for live rabbits and small deer, and later, out of gratitude for the good trade, gave one old man there enough white feathers for a full-length cape, a gown so brilliant it exposed every sickness in its path, every darkness in a human body.
She explains that "that was Old Taylor's father, or maybe his father's father. Sarah's grandfather, or great-grandfather" (9). This full-length cape made of white feathers is passed down through this very specific lineage of her family of the Pomo Dreamers, and later is described again when:
Mollie, Sarah's mother, Mabel's great-grandmother, who fled the Napa Valley after the Mexicans leveled her village . . . went north, into Lake County, and settled in Lolsel, where she married Old Taylor, the medicine man with a floor-length cape of white eagle feathers (146).
It is with Old Man Taylor that Mabel clearly draws attention to the naming of the lineage. Taylor and Mollie are three generations back from when Mabel was born in 1907. Mabel concentrates on this lineage and the place, forgoing mentioning dates. (She even states, "It has nothing to do with dates, what I'm talking about" 136.) She makes mention of Mollie, Sarah, Daisy (her mother), and then herself, as Mabel. Clearly going back into the mid-1800s, even Old Man Taylor's Native American name is never revealed, only their assumed Anglo names are given—nor is he given a full name in her tellings—only the last name "Taylor." When he is mentioned it is because he was a Dreamer and Sarah wishing she had his help with knowing what to do about Mabel. The only other times he is mentioned is in reference to having the full-length cape of white feathers. It is a clear signifier of operating within an Anglo culture. She does not give away recognition but she allows it to happen. In her detailing of a simple life she calls attention to the important things. There is something to know, but it has to come through recognition.
Using the assumed name "Old Man Taylor" Mabel is providing a thin veil of identity instead of using his Native American identity and recognition that would have been given to him in ceremony in the traditional Roundhouse built into the ground and where their ancestors had lived and understood the Spirit since time began. Taylor is not his true name. Nor would he have been known merely as an "old man" to the tribe being a venerated medicine man and Dreamer. These down-playing epithets are a blanket over indications for recognition by someone(s) who would know the true nature of the Dreamers. The name only opens the flap to what can be recognized.
Although it is an entirely Native American text, there is only one instance in which a Native American name is given, and that is Mabel's given name, Catanum. Throughout her stories, except for this one name, Mabel is careful to give the covering Anglo world view. Through this and underneath of this she is careful about the truths she reveals.
The name Catanum in Latin is a derivative of casus, an event, or the phrase Casus belli which means, "an act or event that provokes or is used to justify war." In this case, it is a most eloquent and beautiful declaration of a different kind of war. In Mabel's Dream she is taught songs and how to use them to heal. Throughout the telling of her stories she gives the insights necessary to understanding the rules of this way of operating and shows what recognition is for our time.
In calling her Pomo Dreamer great-grandfather "Old Man Taylor" Mabel first shows what recognition isn't. In one encounter Mabel tells of a young woman who was to work on writing the book on Mabel's life. Mabel explained: "This girl, she starts recording me. She wants to know about the spirit. But how can she know about it? She doesn't know me. So I fire her" (125). In another situation she describes what happens: A group of kids from a college keep visiting her home but try to tell who she is like, calling her a Shaman and uses the situation as something hip to do, she tells them, "You don't respect me . . . You don't even know who I am when I tell you" (130).
Time and again Mabel makes it clear she is open only to the person(s) who will recognize her Spirit and in that case, recognize what she knows from the Dream. It is important to her and she stands by it not altering for inside of it is a way of knowing that quietly and beautifully transcends the street market values rampant and raging in Anglo culture. She knows the calm underneath the raging waters and she knows that carefully, even with the deliverer unsuspecting, her message will go through to recognition. Essie told that there would be another Dreamer. Mabel draws attention to the mis-naming in her lineage. The assumed name points to a culture that trades on gifts such as hers without recognition. The Anglos did track and put on the market the gifts that Mabel describes. The next step in Mabel's beautiful war is recognition.
In what Mabel does deliver, she conveys that her baskets are alive. In one instance Greg inquires, "Was it your grandmother who taught you this art?" Mabel replies, "It's no such thing art. It's spirit . . . I only follow my Dream. That's how I learn" (2). Mabel shows how the spirit in her basketry does not stand alone as different from her spirit or from her ability to find illness and heal. She also tells how the presence in her creations carry on. Greg writes,
She took a trip to the California Indian Museum in Sacramento and met with the curator to discuss the details of a show in her honor. Long glass cases displayed her brilliantly colored feather baskets, her miniatures and large cooking baskets. Above the cases was a life-size photograph of her gathering willows. She looked at the baskets. 'They all got a story,' she told the curator. 'Just say 'hi' to them. Wish them well' (145).
In discussions she continually tied together what she was and what she did:
When museum or university audiences wanted to know how she thought up her basket designs or what tools she used to make her miniature baskets, she answered, 'the spirit,' and then talked about her Dream. When they wanted to know about her Dream and her doctoring, she talked about her baskets. 'Spirit told me to make basket for that,' she said, 'a basket with design for my spitting out the pain.' (113).
Mabel demonstrates that Anglo culture tends to not be aware or pay any attention to the spirit of a thing. She makes clear that her baskets carry with them the spirit and the purpose with which they were created. In this she also points out that money was not the intention. She tells of a time when Sarah is relieved to find that Mabel has the ability to make the extraordinary baskets because she will be able to support herself with them. Sarah tells her about how:
"Joseppa, Daisy's father's mother, who was a great basket-maker and saved the few Loslel survivors from starvation one winter by trading her baskets to white people for food . . ." But the spirit told Mabel not to listen to Sarah. 'You're only doing this because of me,' the spirit said. 'You listen to what I say' (35).
Greg recalls another time Mabel saying that the Spirit told her,
Your baskets, they will all come from me. You will be famous. People will want you to make baskets. They'll offer you lots of money. But you pray to me first. I'll show you what to make for each person. Each of your baskets has a purpose. Each has a rule. But a lot of people won't understand that. You must explain, show the people that the baskets are living, not just pretty things to look at (74).
The spirit tells Mabel that each person will doctor differently. Mabel is one of the last of the sucking doctors who extracted illnesses and pain from the body. The spirit tells her, "You can't be a doctor like that person, and the next person can't doctor like you. They have to be all cut out different. But it's made by that same spirit, not two or three spirits. I am many. I am many places . . . " (74).
Mabel is careful of this attention to healing and how it is all connected.
In another situation she shows a concern for intention and the connection to spirit when she recalls telling her soon-to-be husband Charlie McKay not to rely on her for money. Her first husband had followed her, degraded her, and sought to make money from her basketry. Charlie agrees and Mabel says she "saw the setting sun lighting in his face" (96). In this she delineates again money and spirit. Mabel is paid for her baskets but the spirit behind them does not change. She shows this awareness that the spirit driven by money is destructive and greedy and the baskets then therefore could not serve their purposes. Her baskets are created specifically for gifts, prayers, healing, cooking, ceremonies, and protection among other needs. In order to carry that spirit they have to come from that spirit in their creation. Mabel likes Charlie because "he was kind, extremely gentle." Later Charlie carefully and nurturingly raises their adopted son Marshall, even when his body begins failing him. This gentle spirit is important. Mabel recalls Essie referring to her white son-in-law as "kind as a old-time Indian" (127).
Another aspect of Anglo culture that Mabel is careful of is how Anglos tend not to hear or remember. Greg tries on several occasions to use a tape recorder (as the Anglo anthropologists did) to document the facts that he tries to pull from Mabel. Mabel laughs at him or takes it away from him telling him he needs to remember on his own. Then, past his pushing, she would allow the recorder to run and start the same stories all over again, the ones Greg had already heard. There is one occasion where Mabel uncharacteristically insists on using the tape recorder and that is to document that she has indeed experienced the culture outside of her own. She laughs as she tells of her experiences dressing as a flapper and working in the carnival dancing the Charleston before the Great Depression. She worked as the house cleaner and babysitter in a brothel and saw the girls dressed for their customers in the middle of the day and would take them water and towels. In this recording she speaks of going on the road, train-jumping, eating big red apples "like I never seen. Windfall, the ones on the ground. Farmers let you eat those . . . " She tells of returning to work at a Japanese restaurant on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. She laughs about how it felt to lose a game of strip poker and have to stand naked in front of everyone. These are the experiences she records before she later tells of returning home to where the Spirit begins to teach her how she will doctor.
Greg writes about how "Mabel had seen so much of her Dream come true. People. Places. Things that happened. Storms. Earthquakes. The assassination of Robert Kennedy. "I wait and see,' she said. 'I believe'" (126). In this new edition from the book that was first published in 1994 Greg Sarris adds a new preface that includes a funny story about Mabel's responses. Mabel told a story about a man turning into a snake. Mabel says she saw the man once. The person listening frustrated at the end asks, "Mabel, was it a man or was it a snake?" Mabel replies, "I don't know . . . but it was a problem" (xii).
Mabel showed an awareness that the universe that she knew was unrecognizable in Anglo culture. She knew to tell her stories the way that they could speak, to give them life, create them from that spirit, and let them heal, let them be gifts, prayers, a new dream, a ceremony. She knew it would be some time after her before the Dream and Dreamers would come. The stories she told about her life demonstrate the way to see the difference between rampant, radical attention and being known and speaking to that timeless, deeper knowing. The spirit with which she created baskets and healed illnesses with songs and doctoring given to her by that spirit demonstrate the difference of spirits at work within the cultures. Those tracking and out for power, money and attention are a spirit of a different kind. The other way is to produce a work of substance that heals and carries, uncovers and gives life. Mabel shows that there is no time table. The stories get told. She knew to wait on recognition. A greater recognition now awaits. For our time it is an awakening and a coming more fully to life with the beginning to be found in the stillness and strength of her words. It is finding that the center is not empty, but a woven, open vessel for song. Mabel tells of a veil, a cover over the Dreamers, something that keeps them from view until that recognition, until Anglo culture becomes aware of the importance of the spirit behind a creation, a name, a face. She tells you the name.
In his preface Greg writes about the drought and burning lands in California and thinks about what Mabel would say. He writes,
I found myself distracted by the hazy sky and began worrying about the dry brush outside my yard—I worried about a fire on this mountain. My lavender, which feeds so many bees, looked dry; the mimosa tree that draws the hummingbirds, wilted. Mabel came then, clear as a bell. I heard her talking about her Dream. And more: "You got water in your well, don't you? . . . Well, then, water the lavender, water the mimosa (xiii).