Wild Country, the Sea and Other Legacies


Yellow striped fish – Caribbean 

Age mattered little to Kate, but her hair was grey and many moons have passed when she traversed the northern Rockies on her horse. It was easy to stay far away from the roads, highways and towns for they both knew the shortcuts of that wild country well. Each morning they woke up early and rode without hurry as they shared a sense of fatalism, believing that one arrived when one arrived and hurrying was as arbitrary as standing still.  That night, under the aspens whose yellow color was visible even under the white light of the moon, Kate heard the yelp of a coyote. The sound was one all creatures make when they are lost and in despair, yelling out in hope of kindness and familiarity. The yelps continued for sometime, and then stopped suddenly, shut off by the howl of a friend, whose voice carried far over the mountains and started a chain reaction of many howls, silencing the coyote’s mournful reverie.

Kate’s charm and unremitting fierceness stayed with into her eighties. Ignited by a sense of adventure, she spent a great many years of her life wandering, neither running away nor running toward, but simply going because movement was life and to stop even for a bit was to die a little.

At thirty-five, Kate became a schooner captain and wandered the seven seas for seven years. She did not tell many stories aloud, but if you read her books or made a request, she would tell you tales of sharks cuddling in the sand and sleeping like kittens under the warm Caribbean sun, giant squid battling under a full moon off the coast of Ecuador, and men drifting in the Pacific for close to a year with no water or food aided only by the strength of their character and a beautiful maiden who brought them fish and breathed underwater. Kate’s schooner had picked up the men in between Hawaii and Guam, a quiet part of the ocean where one runs the risk of forgetting one’s own name, and returned them back to El Salvador. On the way back to Central America, the men’s story about the maiden did not change once and, after all of her years of travels, Kate knew better than disbelieve that which was true.

Kate never spent a week in bed staring out of the window waiting. Waiting was not an existence she was capable of and that made her appear thankless and careless, when nothing was further from the truth. As a result, she had lived many years in a world where most of her gestures were misunderstood. But all changed when she began to write for to write was to live without moving one’s body. When she became a writer, Kate started to live a transient existence with her mind, the kind she craved to live with her body.

Kate L.’s full name was Yekaterina Prudchenko, PhD in Education, MA in English and Writing, BA in Mathematics – she acquired these degrees during a time in her life when validation and prestige mattered, and later found it ironical that the process of acquiring the degrees rendered whatever prestige and validation they offered her useless.

After she took her last breath, but before she returned to dust, her old friend, He Who Howls at the Moon, sang a song in Cree about Kate’s life and her sailboat and snorkel, and how much she loved the hidden world of yellow and purple striped fish who mistook her golden hair for seaweed.

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