By Ellen Taylor
At his memorial, said Yarrow
They all mentioned
How much his time up in Humboldt meant to him:
How he loved the people, rivers, trees.
For him, it was
An enchanted time, a luminous island, which would slip fast away
Into the wake of a life that, later, grew daily more hideous.
He must have felt as though he’d stepped into a northern fairy tale,
Sixteen-year-old sylph that he was—
With our forest campfires, our chants, our tree homes
Two hundred feet above the ground,
Our reproachful rings around MAXXAM tree-fallers,
And of course, the signal
Evil: spider-like goons, captures, sprites swathed in duct tape
Lowered headfirst to the ground;
Goblins setting fires below us
Their long, wicked shadows knotting
Around our tree trunks.
It was terrifying, but it was noble.
And so he fatally came back,
This time with his students, all passionate to save the world,
Led them to the front on Rainbow
Where the spider wrapped him up for good:
Of felony child endangerment etc. etc.
The terrible swift sword of
Injustice, tempered in malevolence and greed
Shattered his brain; to which
Eight years later, he gave the coup de grace.
His father, according to Yarrow, rose
At the Golden Gate Park event
And said he was proud of his son, who did not
“Go down to the Man”; but he muttered,
Under his breath, that God
Must be a cross between Evel Knievel and General Patton.
Note: Nature Boy as a youngster first came to the Mattole Valley with a group of other students from his school during the 1990s. They were here to learn about salmon. While in Humboldt, he listened to stories told by forest defenders in the campaign to save Rainbow Ridge, source of the Mattole North Forks, from the Texas corporation MAXXAM, which was logging it.
He could not forget the Mattole and came back a few years later, now a teacher, leading a group similar to the one with whom he had first visited. He took them up to Rainbow to learn about forest defense. There the students were pursued by MAXXAM’s goons and spent a terrifying night. For this action, Nature Boy was convicted and received a harsh sentence. He plunged into black despair and ultimately took his own life.
Nature Boy was his forest name.