A Sliver, a Prayer, a Wink

Autumn. Druid dances. Sock hops.

Growing up, fall was always the season when everything seemed to happen. Still does. MLB playoffs started this week, and the story lines are emerging from football season. The NBA is tuning up. Hockey too. Sports seasons are too long by half. But what isn’t? Movies are too long by half, concerts, campaigns, banquets.

The only thing that isn’t too long by half is autumn itself.

Went to the first banquet of the season the other night. Banquet season also runs too long, basically now through spring, and if I gave to every worthy cause, I would become a charity case myself.

Yet, “Door of Hope” took some of my money, and I’m proud to support it. Based in Pasadena, this charity gets families off the street, and their success rate in keeping them housed and self-supporting is incredible. It makes a difference, and though homelessness is the most intractable issue of our time, “Door of Hope” has managed to give us a ray of promise.

That’s all I ask. A sliver, a prayer, a wink.

So easy to get down about things. I picked up a few items at the market yesterday. $100. Didn’t even cover the bottom of the grocery cart…box of Zip-Locs, some bar soap, loaf of bread. Who’s getting rich on all this? Not the farmers. Not the folks picking tomatoes. Paid $12 just for aspirin.

To really ease the pain, I also grabbed a bottle of Bailey’s.

My sidekick Steve is visiting for a few days, down from Mammoth Lakes. And I know he likes a splash of Bailey’s in his morning coffee, because that’s how we managed to get through the book we wrote together.

Hope you get a chance to meet Steve at one of our events this week. He’s got an extraordinary feel for the wilderness. It’s like a sit down with John Muir.

I know, I know. I’ve written too much about this book. Even I’m annoyed by all the shameless publicity. But “what’s a sun dial in the shade?” as Ben Franklin once asked.

Here’s a tidbit for you: We see these bears, a so-called “indicator species,” thriving in an era of climate turmoil. Their ranges are expanding, their numbers growing.

Remember when “bear country” meant Yellowstone and Yosemite? Now it’s Disney World and Sierra Madre.

Remember, too, the way bald eagles came back from near extinction? Well, same is happening with bears, mountain lions, major sea life —  all the indicator species.

The other morning, I heard this strange barking sound coming from the church parking lot. Turned out to be a bunch of North American teenagers, another indicator species that is overcoming tough times.

Bottom line: Nature is resilient. Nature is a beast. Given half the chance, it will fix itself.

So should we.

No one loves bookstores more than I do. And Vroman’s is an LA treasure. Props for having us out Tuesday night. It was standing room only — no surprise to me, given the great publicity we’re getting. The books sold out way too soon, and apologies to everyone who was left hanging. We could’ve sold another hundred. But please continue to support bookstores.

Unless we sip too much Bailey’s, Steve and I will be at Barnes & Noble at The Grove tonight (Wednesday Oct. 4) at 7 pm. The event is free. Perhaps the best LA session of the week will be Friday, at {Pages} book store in Manhattan Beach. This requires tickets, but the $35 covers a signed copy of the book, perhaps a sip of wine, and maybe a beer afterwards at Erc’s, the dive bar across the street. For info, please click here. Find “What the Bears Know” at {Pages} and other bookstores starting this week. If they don’t have it in stock, they can order it for you. To order online, please click here. Thank you.

The schedule

Oct. 4, Barnes & Noble at The Grove, 7 p.m., free

Oct. 6, {pages} a bookstore in Manhattan Beach, 7 p.m., a ticketed event (for info, click here).

Oct. 7, Mammoth Lakes Library, 2 p.m., free.

An excerpt:

[The bear I’ve dubbed ] “Big” is more than massive. He is also a very intelligent bear, so he understands that there are often loose dogs in the residential areas of Mammoth Lakes. He can triangulate their position and determine when they’re roaming free, not on leashes. In this case, the barking is moving too fast, closing the distance from when he first hears them to where they are a minute later. Suddenly, the 650-pound bear does something he has never had to do: Big begins to run for his life, through heavy pine forest, juking and zigzagging around rocks and trees.

As he runs, he hears the dogs getting closer. He is confused and disoriented by the barking; an unfamiliar weakness starts to burn in his legs. As he tires, he stumbles, losing his footing in the loose rock. Perhaps for the first time in his life, the king of the forest starts to feel fear.

12 thoughts on “A Sliver, a Prayer, a Wink

  1. Yikes! I hope the whole book is not as heart-pounding as this excerpt! I might spill my pumpkin spice latte on it. I just got notice from B & N that it’s on its way to my door. I will be pacing in front of the window, if anybody needs me. Hope your signings are all wonderful.

  2. Darbo and I wishing you Buena Fortuna on the signing and sales!.. thinking of you as we navigate the ‘streets’ of Venice (Italy).  Hoping for a signed copy (is that extra?!) upon our return!

  3. Chris,
    I see you are wearing an Oregon themed Reyn Spooner shirt. Nice! You do know that Spooners are digueur Apperal for “gentleman of a certain age” down Newport Beach way. Full disclosure, my closet is loaded with them.

  4. I ordered the book from Vroman’s and can’t wait to read it.  Your musings are a joy!  Thank you!

  5. A book signing is like a consecration of bread, and in a strange but no less profound way what follows is a communion of souls.  The author is the high priest/ priestess and the ceremony is a rite of passion for him as he ministers to his flock of minds.  Think about it.


    We are in an irregular line
    Each holding a small loaf of flatbread
    In our hands and discussing chefs
    And their wares and what celebrity 
    Confers, whether on television
    Tik Tok, or in the scarred combative lists
    Of jousts raging on the internet;
    Up abead is a ritual sign
    Of knighthood: a monkish figure spread
    Over a table, bleeding ink’s treble clefs—
    The singing blood of writers—quickly
    Bestowing scriptive blessings upon
    A slice of the manna our hungry fists
    Proffer, a. benediction dark and wet…. 

    Upon whose conversational drying
    We reflect on the high silent racks
    Of  naked goods stacked down narrow aisles
    That light this temple of the soul;
    Oh! How these loaves feed the hungry mind
    With visions of the universe
    For there is heaven in their design;
    And as we wander off, flying
    Into the sun of life, filling cracks
    In the days with words that reconcile
    Our hunger with sweet grain’s control
    Of empty space, we wonder who refined
    This nourishment, whose coin’s obverse—
    The chef, made language seem divine…

    Whose glow I first saw down the spine
    Of a lovely girl who read in bed
    I signed that book in my head
    Where now its merely something read
    Or a daydream, waiting to be said
    In a bakery, waiting to be fed
    By a signature, and then the bread
    And something else—like love, instead
    For you never know who will pour like wine
    Put their bread in your mouth in a bakery line
    Or bleed ink on your bread—equally fine
    For the signature leads to love in the mind
    Read to each other as you recline
     For a book is bread on which you dine
    And so is LOVE—(italics mine)
    Bon appetite !  When both readers sign
    Somewhere on the dotted line
    Is a wedding a book signing ?  I decline
    To render opinion, and so, resign…

  6. My book arrived yesterday! Can’t wait to read & enjoy! I live in bear country (Tahoe) – always interested in ways to live in harmony with the bears in their home.

      1. Lots of progress has been made with better PR and information for locals and tourists, but you’re so right – plenty more to do. I’ve already recommended your book to many people! Love your work!

  7. Chris & Steve,
    At Vroman’s Tuesday, what a great night though they underestimated your fandom inexcusably in my opinion. Steve Searles turned out to have quite the gift of gab once started. All so enjoyable and the gift of the bears was icing on cake! You guys rock!

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