Gaylord Guenin: `Oracle of Lenado’ attracts nervous masses
April 24, 2003
It is just about “tweener time” in Lenado, which is nothing more than a localized way of saying it is spring.
Tweener is a corruption of “in between,” if you didn’t figure that out immediately. We are in between seasons and visitors; the snowmobilers and cross-country skiers are slowly fading from the scene, and it will be awhile before the sprocket trash (mountain bikers) and those seemingly disoriented folks in their SUVs begin rolling through our valley for the summer season.
It would be out of order to claim that Lenado, with its population of approximately 20 people or less, is a hectic place to live; however, the additional tranquility that arrives this time of year still is most welcome.
Because I do embrace the quiet that Lenado so effortlessly provides, mud happens to be a wonderful ally of mine. The first four-plus miles of the Woody Creek Road, which leads to Lenado, is paved and then it becomes dirt. The dirt turns to mud with the addition of our spring rains and snowstorms, and the road deteriorates faster than a bad marriage.
And Lenado mud is not your run-of-the-mill mud. It is an evil slime that will suck you into a ditch in a second and make the most standard features of your vehicle, such as braking and steering, completely and absolutely useless. Add the potholes and endless ruts and the Woody Creek Road becomes rather uninviting, a situation I applaud on an annual basis.
Only the most dedicated of mountain bikers will slog through that Lenado muck just to enjoy an afternoon outing, and outsiders with brand-new and very expensive vehicles seldom venture more than a few hundred feet from the paved road before they turn around and return to civilization as they know it.
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Yes, tweener time is a mighty fine time in Lenado!
But it appears there may not be as much peace and quiet in Lenado this spring as in years past. The winter visitors are fading from the scene all right but the traffic past my cabin has, if anything, been increasing. Best as I can figure out, all of those vehicles are heading up the road so that their owners can consult with the oracle of Lenado, who is believed to be a descendant of the ancient oracle of Delphi.
The oracle apparently lives somewhere up the road from me, conducting her counseling sessions in a cave located above one of the earthquake faults we have in Lenado. My understanding is that fumes rising from the fault line act as a catalyst on the oracle, causing her to enter an altered state where she can peer into the future.
Unfortunately, her state can become so completely altered that whatever it is she had to tell you is most likely to become incomprehensible, so a priest is always on hand to interpret her strange mumblings. There is an extra charge for the priest. In past years I might see only a handful of individuals making the pilgrimage to the oracle. Most reasonable people would scoff at the suggestion she can see into the future. Things seem to be changing!
We do live in a nervous nation, don’t we? The populace is worried about war, about who we may attack next, about terrorism, about the economy, about the stock market, about medical and health benefits, about the environment, about employment, about SARS and West Nile Virus and endless other real or imagined problems. And to think that just a few years ago we were all running around in a state of near giddiness, looking to a future where it appeared we might all be living in some perfect, gilded utopia. That bubble burst, didn’t it?
The transition from optimism to pessimism has been dramatic to say the least, so it is not surprising that people are seeking out oracles in hopes of getting at least a glimpse of what is to come. What is most surprising about our current climate of woe and worry is that we seem to have forgotten a rather familiar axiom about life in general. If I may be so rude as to express it in the vernacular, it is this: “Shit happens!”
That is not necessarily the view of a defeatist but of someone who is willing to accept the chaos in all things and then is willing to move on in an attempt to improve what is wrong.
My main concern, my foremost worry, if you like, is my growing lack of faith in those who have the most power to correct some of the nation’s growing list of ills.
What I am worried about is the possibility that the current administration and most of our elected officials are worried about the well-being of only a tiny, elite segment of society. They have proven to be experts at making war, at destroying things, but they don’t seem to have the knack for building – that is, outside of their own gated communities.
That worries me! Maybe I will make an appointment with the oracle of Lenado if she is not booked solid.
This is the 284th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where the “What, me worry?” approach to life is said to have originated.