Kage Baker made things happen. Well, naturally, everybody does – some better or more often or more deliberately than others. But, truth to tell, physics just doesn’t let any of us get away with not making things happen. This is evidently a major problem for those good folk attempting to escape the Great Wheel of Life.
But Kage could make things happen on purpose. I think. She had a very strange ability to catch things – fads, interests, new (or old) ideas – just as they reached some apex of attention-gathering power. She’d want to to know something, and suddenly everyone would be publishing information on it.
This happens once or twice to everyone, doesn’t it? You never, ever, heard of Toy Box Iced Biscuits. Then you read about them in an old book; and see them in an advert for Twinings tea; and then on EBay – and before you know it, a dozen references have hit you, and you’ve a mad craving for cookies you not only never heard of two weeks ago but that haven’t been made for 15 years. Right?
But if you were Kage … your Lancastrian step-grandmother would have fed them to you once when you were 6, and you’d find the last preserved box on earth online just when someone decided to make them again anyway. And it happened like that to her all the time.
She would develop an interest in, say, heritage apples – and suddenly legendary apple trees would be being discovered in back gardens from coast to coast. Most of all, people would find them where Kage lived, and she could taste them. In the 90’s, Kage wanted exotic apples; suddenly, in forgotten farms up tiny lost canyons in the Irish Hills of the Central Coast, wizened little old trees began bearing again. There were more every year. By the time Kage died, orchards were spreading over through the canyons like a millennial flood. There’s a fruit stand in the hills behind Avila Beach that now sells about 50 kinds of apples through the course of the season. People come from everywhere to buy them. We went there every week, Kage and I, and she ate her way through scions of 4 centuries of apples.
When she was a little girl, she read a story about a puffin, and somehow formed the opinion that puffins were extinct. This upset her profoundly and she cried about the puffins for years. When I found out what she thought and disabused her of the idea (she read fairy tales; I read nature books) she decided something must have saved them. In time, not only did this conviction give birth to The Company stories, but extinct animals did indeed start resurfacing. Why? From Where? Who shoveled extinct elk poop until a herd of pregnant females showed up in Buttonwillow in the 19th century? Where has the melanistic mountain lion been hiding for the last 20 years?
Why do people compulsively stash famous composer’s work in the cupboards of houses where they never lived? Renaissance artists seem to have ritually signed every 10th or 20th painting as one of their own apprentices – some kind of tithe? Early agriculturists went out of their way to write down recipes for … beer. (All right, maybe I understand that one.) Find one example of this kind of Odd News and soon you’ll have half a dozen: and they fascinated Kage, and when something fascinated her, the world poured information into her lap.
She made it happen, I think. Somehow. Maybe by the sheer magnetism of her interest and determination. That is the prime reason I think this story-telling gig may work for me. Kage said it would; she was convinced it would. She told me it would.
Apple trees listened to her. How can I argue?
Tomorrow: I need a source for augers