Julia Butterfly Hill begins twelfth day of pray-fast
SOUTH CENTRAL FARM, 27 May 2006--What does it mean to be camping under three
people living in a tree? It's not exactly inspiration--the Farm takes care
of that. It's more than symbolic--Julia, John, Joan, and now Daryl are
really risking life and limb, especially if the sheriffs try to shake them
loose. It's kind of like having odd but utterly charming neighbors, people
who live their unusual lives with such self-assurance that what should be
idiosyncratic makes utter sense. It's an admiration and proud friendship
that you know you couldn't possibly explain to your uptight parents. But
even if you can't explain them, you would defend them against all comers.
The sturdy arms of the walnut tree appear to embrace the new denizens,
tethered to safety lines, as they climb from branch to branch, sharing the 3' x 5'
wooden slats that serve as bed and perch. John Quigley, Daryl Hannah, and
Julia Butterfly Hill fill their day chatting with the groundlings when they're not making phone
calls to rouse support for the Farm. Buckets carry food, waste, and
charged cell phones up and down. The tree, now known as the Heart of the
Farm, barely stirs.
A bunch of flies came to visit John when he first
settled in. He didn't disturb them, commenting only that they were
"checking out this big, new bird." In the winter of 2002,
Quigley sat in Old Glory, chaining himself to the Santa Clarity Valley oak, for
two and a half months until developers agreed to move it to a preserve. John's the quiet one, hidden behind branches when the media arrives, but working the phone non-stop.
Joan Baez was the first celebrity tree-sitter, spending two days and nights
in the tree, and bringing international focus to the Farm and lending her
celebrity status to protecting the Farm. Occasionally crooning from on
high, Baez caught the media's--and finally the Los Angeles Times'--attention
for the Farm. When she moved on, environmentalist and Hollywood darling
Daryl Hannah took her place. Hannah, disturbingly better known for her
films, is an organic vegetarian and animal rescuer who drives a bio-El Camino
and lives off-grid on a solar and bio-diesel farm, when she's not on tour
promoting biodiesel conversion.
It's the fourth day of tree-sitting at the Farm, but the twelfth day of Julia
Butterfly Hill's "water-only prayer fast for the survival of the
Farm." On Wednesday, when she first climbed into the tree, she was
asked how long she intended to stay. Without a beat of hesitation, she
pronounced, "Until the Farm is secure." Hill is world-renowned
for spending two years sitting in a tree she named Luna in Humbolt County until
three acres of ancient redwoods were preserved from logging interests.
If the tree is the Heart of the Farm, Julia has become its soul. She's disturbingly thin now, but still energetically traveling around in the tree and engaging visitors and residents below. Her northern
California manager described her as Ghandi-esque, but that's too grandiose for
the playful, centered, peaceful, earth-loving sprite who, this morning, as the
groundlings waited for the sheriff's, said simply, "Just be calm. Be
happy to be in this place." A few minutes later, she added, "I'm
glad it didn't rain last night."
For whatever reason, the sheriffs
didn't appear this morning.