cassandee: gnome avatar (Gnomie)
So When did I first learn about Thylacine? Somewhere in my past, a conversation regarding human caused extinction, perhaps while I was in college, perhaps a documentary: the actual memory is lost to me at his time. The word was there in my memory before the ghostly apparition. I did not consciously remember any of these thoughts until later.

One night when I left work I drove a different way. Instead of heading south to the 101. I zigzagged through Old Town for a few blocks to get there. No reason, no conscious thought, I have no idea why. It was foggy and mists were low on the ground, visibility limited. Suddenly out of an alley darted a large animal, taller then the bumper of my car. It was loping out of the alley right in front of my car! I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop trying to avoid hitting it, with the certainty that I was hitting it. There was no stopping in time, it was too close, too sudden, and even if I was driving less then 20 miles an hour, it was too late, I hit it. But there was no thud. I opened the door, in my mind recreating the animal I was sure would be lying dead under my car bumper. It was dog-size, with a long snout, and its tail, not like a dog tail, stiff and thick held horizontally behind it. It was weirdly striped, not like a raccoon tail, not like a brindle, but like a Zebra. About this point in time, my analytical mind is putting this together as impossible. I have never seen an animal like this before. There is no thud. I hit it, but it is not there. This is not a worldly event.  I was at this point in real time getting out of my car to look for the body, kinda knowing it was not there. Every hair on my body was standing straight out, and I was like feeling existential fear and excitement, fight or flight style pounding of my heart, mind and soul.  Nothing. Of course. There is nothing in front of or under my car. But I DID see something, run out in front of my car, I hit it, and it is not real. I have been visited by a spirit animal. What the hell was that!?!

I went home. I continued my expected existence. I took some time the next morning to sketch what I had seen. I told my boyfriend about it. He kept annoying me by saying stuff like, "It was a raccoon",  or "dog", but I knew it was not. I would snap at him, "No! It  was not".  Finally I just blurted out, "It was a Thylacine!", like I knew this creature. Until those words came out of my mouth, I had not thought them, it came as a surprise that I had a name for the creature. I googled it while we were talking, because I did not actually know what a Thylacine was. In my memory it was a Pleistocene creature, like ones I had seen images of or dioramas with at the John Day Fossil beds where we had vacationed last summer perhaps.  The google showed me pictures of Thylacine, oh yes, exactly, that is what I had seen! In my memory the stripes on the beast had extended further into the fore quarters, not just on the hind quarters, but it was so obviously exactly what I had seen in every other sense.  I saw what the Thylacine history was, and knew that this was a story that would have always resonated with me. This is a face of extinction, a creature displaced and exterminated by European settlers, and that I must have heard of it, seen pictures before. It is a subject I am not only familiar with, but also passionate about. Somewhere in my murky memory and subconscious currents, I had reconnected with this creature that resonates strongly with me in the sense of environmental injustice and social failures. 

What now to do with this experience. I have encountered the Thylacine. In a sleepy, rundown corner of Northern California, where to my memory no Thylacine ever trod before.  Where will this journey take me next?


cassandee: gnome avatar (Default)
Julie Linn-Strait

March 2017

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