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A Reader Comments

1-30-08 - Tom Cabarga on how Cabarga Creek got it's name

I was Googling myself today and came across your interview with Philip Wilson which contained a passing reference to the naming of Cabarga Creek:

DC: We named it Cabarga creek. Tom Cabarga was the guy standing opposite Dick Baker at a work meeting when somebody asked what it's called. Dick just looked at Tom and said Cabarga Creek. [That’s the way I heard it. – DC]

Since you are the de facto historian of Zen Center, I thought I would mention that it didn't happen that way. Your version is very "Zen": it makes it sound like Baker said "Cabarga Creek" in the same way whoever-it-was said "The cypress tree in the courtyard." Would that it were true.

At a work meeting after the fire in 1977 the topic of the likelihood of floods came up. That summer there had been flash floods in Texas, and I mentioned that the TV had reported that "nameless creeks rose 14 feet." The meeting was in the dining room and I added, "what's the name of that creek behind us?" The implication was that we could avoid the "curse" of a flooding nameless creek by giving it a name. People laughed.

The next day at work meeting, Mike Jamvold came up to me and said that at the morning meeting with the Abbot, the staff had decided to call the nameless creek "Cabarga Creek" -- it seemed clear to me that this was intended as a joke. Dick Baker also mentioned it to me, but jokes are soon forgotten. I think maybe Philip Whalen was involved in this staff meeting, but, at this point, you would have to ask Mike what really happened if you thought it worth pursuing.


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