Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 32, September--October 1970
It was time to deal with Priscilla. Albert said, “She’s all fattened up, and I’ve been reading about how to do the butchering.”
I wasn’t looking forward to this procedure, but we knew the score when we started the project. Still, Priscilla was family now, and I knew I'd miss her. In the book Stranger in a Strange Land, it was considered a great honor to eat a departed friend. I guess we were about to ‘fully grock’ our dear Priscilla.
“How are we going to do this?” I asked.
“We’ll give her a delicious last meal, and while she's gorging herself, I'll shoot her between the eyes with my twenty-two. It'll be a nice exit.”
The next morning, after Albert had set up the butchering apparatus, we took a juicy melon to Priscilla. Resigned to the task, I felt a mixture of dread, compassion, and sorrow. After Priscilla took a few tasty bites of melon, Albert held the riffle an inch away from her forehead and pulled the trigger.
The gun went off, Priscilla fell on her side, and lay still.
Then an amazing thing occurred. I went into a euphoric state. The feeling was similar to a powerful experience I'd had at a "Climbing the Mountain" meditation class a few years back.
I saw a carcass but sensed that Priscilla was still there with no change in her energy. I also understood that Priscilla was not flesh but spirit. One more lesson about the nature of death. There is no end to life— just an end to life in a physical body.
Throughout the butchering process, I was walking on air. The meat from Priscilla, who lived a life surrounded by love and serenity, was so tender that a fork slid through it ... and it was extraordinarily delicious.
Rosie and I had cheesecloth covered crocks and tubs of apricots, peaches, figs, plums, and carrots fermenting into wine on the back porch. It was the end of September, and the fermentation process was complete. We strained and bottled the wine, then corked and sealed it with cheesecloth and melted candle wax.
We passed the dregs on to Albert, who was building a still. His contraption consisted of a lengthy coil of copper tubing, a large broiler pan perched on a hot plate, and some other parts and gizmos. He produced nearly a gallon of clear liquid.
Now the accomplished distiller, Albert educated us on the finer merits of his product.
“This here’s white lightning. Now, liquor is graded by its proof. If the liquor is 50 percent alcohol, it's said to be 100 proof. A 50 percent alcohol solution is flammable. Back in the old days, a bartender would prove a whiskey was good by pouring a little on the bar and lighting it with a match. If it burned, it was proof that the stuff was good.”
Rosie asked, “So this butt-kicker is 100 proof?”
Albert splashed a small amount onto the porch railing. “Actually, no.” He pulled a book of matches out of his shirt pocket. "White lightning can be more like 180 proof.” As he touched a lit match to the wet spot on the railing, a low blue flame spread across it.
All I could say was “Shit-house-mouse! You know what this means? We need to have a party.”
Albert had a huge smile on his face. “Halloween is coming up. How about we throw a monster one?”
So that’s how it started. Word spread throughout the hippie community. I used Freddie’s phone to call my friends in the mountain town of Quincy. Lil answered, and I offered an invite: “Hey, we’re having a party on Halloween. Why don’t you and Sam come? Tell Jack and Jason too.”
“Cool. Is that the thirty-first?”
“Yep. It’s on a Saturday this year.”
“All right. I’m ready for a good party. We should be able to make it. Should we wear costumes?”
“Sure, why not.”
“We’ll see you then. Later.”
We decided a bonfire in the yard would be groovy, so we made a large pit of stones and gathered an ample pile of wood. I built a fire that was ready to light when the time was right.
To be continued ...
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Trippin': Roads, Rails & Mountain Trails
In book 2 of his Hippie Adventurer Series, Rich takes us on another wild ride during the 1960s as he and his faithful canine companion, Charlie, hitchhike, hop freights, work in an Alaskan gold mining camp, and manage a Sacramento Valley cattle ranch.
A Message from Rich
Trippin’ is my gift to all of you. For me, the ’60s were a heartfelt time of growth, exploration, freedom, and brotherhood. I hope to impart a truthful account of what it was like to live as a hippie in that wacky, magical era. Enjoy the journey!
To receive episodes delivered directly to your email box, sign up HERE.
If you haven’t read the first book in the Hippie Adventurer Series, the award-winning Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes, you can find it on Amazon and Audible.
1A. Escape from Heavy Caverns