San Rafael, CA
As a boy I once spent a summer night in the deep woods. It was a moonless night, quite dark in the forest, and an odd green glow in the near distance drew my eyes. No flashlight, stumbling through the dark over stumps, logs, and stones, scraped and poked by invisible branches, almost completely unable to see, I pushed on toward the light. Finally, in a clearing, I found a glowing tree stump, at least 6 feet tall, burning fluorescent green top to bottom, like something from a movie. Amazed, I walked around and around the mysterious glowing tower, hesitant to break its spell. Finally I could not resist. At first, cautious but curious, I gently touched the fire - the roughness and the cool peculiar surface of light without heat, my hands and arms becoming ghostly shadows of motion as I moved them above it. For a long time I stood quietly, communing with this strange green obelisk, transfixed by the light, exploring the stark difference between the coolness of my shadow touch and the cold brightness scorching my vision. It seemed like a kind of violation, but I could not resist pulling a big piece off of the tree to carry back to my sleeping bag. Later, resting my banged up elbows and knees at long last, stars from the deep night sky barely peeking through the shadowy branches of darkened trees above me, the strange sounds of night animals surrounding me, I lay in my bed staring, hypnotized by the unchanging stillness of the cold and bottomless green fire I held in my hands that could burn my eyes with its brightness but could not light my way. At last I put the fire under my head rest, checking on it occasionally, impatient and curious to see my treasure by day. When I awoke sometime after daybreak, excitedly I immediately reached beneath my pillow, and out into the bright morning sunlight I pulled a chunk of rotten old wood.