The Bells Autumn and Lusti Gave Me

Cayapa Drew
5 min readJul 22, 2020

Years before, I had been living in Columbia, Missouri. I had a new apartment there. As a house warming gift, Lusti gave Autumn a string of beads and brass bells to give to me. The string was green, rope-like, and thick as a shoe-lace. The beads were translucent with bubbly insides of red, blue, clear and green hung with a brass bell at the end of the pattern and that pattern repeating for about three feet of the string. In the years after I moved out of the apartment I had them tied up to the handle, and hanging into the pocket of my passenger car door so that when I would go over a bump or each time the door opened and shut, they would jangle. The sun shown through the beads through a summer and changed them, making them even more beautiful and throughout that summer I gave my friend Isaac rides to work and to home and that was about all our friendship was, but I enjoyed that.

When I set out to Nashville with only what I could carry, I tied the string of beads to my hiking pack so I would jangle as I walked or the pack would jangle as it was tossed into the luggage of the airplane.

I was jangling when I first set foot @ The Garden outside Lafayette TN. Ryan and I looked about the little community of rugged (not insolated) wood paneled shacks. The outdoor kitchen had a dirt floor then, stone stoves and shelves of produce and was crowded with people in dirt bathed overalls, sunhats, and colorful rags. We introduced ourselves to a man, as being there for the gathering, and took advice on how to get started, setting up my tent on some bare ground near the edge of one of the camping portions of the property. When the camp was made, I wished my old bro, farewell.

For days of the gathering, I didn’t make any friends, I didn’t seem to understand how to connect with others. On April 20th (4/20/18) I woke and walked down to the outdoor kitchen for the community coffee and fire cooked breakfast. I conversed with the circle of people around the fire outside the kitchen. I conversed with the people that were circling the fire inside the kitchen and I walked back to my tent to script some notes of my appreciations and how things should be for me. Then I left the land for a run / hike with an unusual goal. As, since I already was not sure how to make friends and now after the morning fires, I was even further feeling into myself, I decided to let go of the people all together. My goal for this day was to make it to the nearest town and back by hiking or hitch hiking, and hang the bells that Autumn and Lusti gave me, up in the town and then make it back by sundown. My understanding was that the nearest town was maybe about 20 miles in that direction. I put the bells in my pocket, zipped my tent closed, turning to set out at a jogging pace into the forest, knee-high-toe-up over sticks and barbed wire, then across the neighboring field and onto the rural highway). It probably took me a half hour (three runs and three walks) to reach the Kentucky boarder some four miles from The Garden. And, by that time, I’d already taken the wrong fork in the road and was not headed to the nearest town. After some three hours or so of hiking my feet unusually hurt so I took a break. I climbed some bluffs onside the highway and sat to rest looking down on the road. I could hear a neighboring farm with at least two men working / shouting to each other. No cars were passing. No cars had been passing. The country-side was quiet. When I was content I climbed down from my perch and decided now is a good time to begin putting my thumb out. I heard a car approaching down the highway, beyond the bluffs and over the next hill, so out goes my thumb and immediately, amazingly, as this first car pulls into sight, this car slows to a stop. “It’s homie from The Garden!” I hear. And they let me in. It’s the filthy, hippy band with the dog named “Angel” and they’re headed to this more distant town where nobody ever goes, where I didn’t mean to be going; because today they’re determined to play frisbee golf! At a seemingly abandoned / overgrown frisbee golf course in this southern Kentucky town, we played a full game with Angel running along and about the wide-spread-tree-speckled, hill-fields around us as we throw. I hang the lil Jesus bells at the park’s pavilion. I finally FEEL connected. I could finally experience some friendship. I let the bells go, to be blown in the wind and be mine no-more and I made it back to The Garden to gift the band, A Hewn Log House (complete guide to building and restoring), as they were the most active in constructing the community at the time. I was able to help shingle the schoolhouse with tire scraps and the relationships around me began compounding. I began making more friends. That’s when I met Jacob de-Lion, and the next night Frodo, and then the next, Lion and Moon and many who I don’t know where-ever they made it off to. But that’s the magical story of the bells that Autumn and Lusti gave me. The Jesus bells I called them. They brought me friendship, surely; where i didn’t know how to find it.

That’s their story, until I hung them in that southern kentucky town, leaving a very worthy treasure for someone else’s discovering and until, in some way, how i imagine, they’re tied to this act of me scripting this story. I shared the story with the Cosmic Connection store owner in Mooresville NC, some weeks ago and then now on Easter Sunday under a colorful one dozen or some tag covered tunnel under the train tracks where a mossy waterfall tumbling out of the temperate rainforest meets the French Broad river in Western North Carolina, before I make a phone call to my dad and settle to find comfort in a fiction novel. The world is alight from within me. The skies are perfectly overcast as I imagine the foggy isle’s of heaven. There is a deep and hearty life to the river as I remember there being once when I was unable to swim against the current, outside Rolla, Missouri as a very little child; where my dad dove in to fish me out of the current. The rocks and sands of the shores sparkle. I’ve thought today of the families I know are probably hunting Easter eggs. I’m content, for now, with my umbrella upside down on the sand, my notebooks stacked on it, the tunnel keeping the rain off me and a resident graffiti marked up folding chair serving as my office. I should save it, but I don’t and it’ll be washed out by the flood, tonight. This space of the outskirts of my rain forested mountain city has peace.

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Cayapa Drew

The indigenous peoples of Latin America have three words for community works for the greater good without self interest. The words are Minga, Minka, and Cayapa.