hello out there. words to accompany the smoke signals i’m sending out into the evening sky to wherever you are.
i have been tromping through gardens, walking on beaches, sitting outside, writing, reading, thinking. peering through my binoculars at the night sky. all the usual ordinary things. after a dozen years this old blog is a broken record. but I AM still HERE – keeping it. my ship’s log grows thick. the pages are full of things i find along the way. lucky me to still have a group of nice people who pop in occasionally to see what’s new. thanks for being here. your eyes and ears and voices are appreciated.
i am alive and filled with the splendor of spring. the heavy winter rains percolated down through the los angeles landscape and created superblooms. the air is scented with orange blossom, jasmine, victorian box. the hillsides are masses of gold. dottie came to see me last weekend and we drove to santa babs through santa paula. the mountain ranges are green. purple lupines and wildflowers galore open along the highway. the world is so pretty right now. it does take the breath away.
lately i’m loving to porch sit in the company of my friends quercas agrifolia, otherwise known as coast live oak. my journal and i out at dusk. listening to the birds and squirrels and leaves rustling. everything settling down for the night.
i do hope you are GOOD. send me some return smoke signals. let me know that you’re okay out there in the big wide world.
on my bookshelf
if you’re searching for something that’s unputdownable and somewhat unpredicatable, the river, will satisfy your craving. i am a peter heller fan and still think of his book, the dogstars, with longing whenever i’m having a hard time finding something to read. if only it were always so easy to find something GOOD.
the overstory is a series of little stories about trees. i’m on chapter 4, but so far my favorite was chapter 1 about the american chestnut. lovely. lyrical. with a streak of darkness throughout that i’m hoping will lessen as i continue. nevertheless richard powers is a masterful writer. go here for a listen.
First there was nothing. Then there was everything.
Then, in a park above a western city after dusk, the air is raining messages. A woman sits on the ground, leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back, as hard as life. Its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying
things, in words before words.
It says: Sun and water are questions endlessly worth answering.
It says: A good answer must be reinvented many times, from scratch.
It says: Every piece of earth needs a new way to grip it. There are more ways to branch than any cedar pencil will ever find. A thing can travel everywhere, just by holding still.
The woman does exactly that. Signals rain down around her like seeds.
Talk runs far afield tonight. The bends in the alders speak of long-ago disasters. Spikes of pale chinquapin flowers shake down their pollen; soon they will turn into spiny fruits. Poplars repeat the wind’s gossip. Persimmons and walnuts set out their bribes and rowans their blood-red clusters. Ancient oaks wave prophecies of future weather. The several hundred kinds of hawthorn laugh at the single name they’re forced to share. Laurels insist that even death is nothing to lose sleep over.
Something in the air’s scent commands the woman: Close your eyes and think of willow. The weeping you see will be wrong. Picture an acacia thorn. Nothing in your thought will be sharp enough. What hovers right above you? What floats over your head right now—now?
Trees even farther away join in: All the ways you imagine us—bewitched mangroves up on stilts, a nutmeg’s inverted spade, gnarled baja elephant trunks, the straight-up missile of a sal—are always amputations. Your kind never sees us whole. You miss the half of it, and more. There’s always as much belowground as above.
That’s the trouble with people, their root problem. Life runs alongside them, unseen. Right here, right next. Creating the soil. Cycling water. Trading in nutrients. Making weather. Building atmosphere. Feeding and curing and sheltering more kinds of creatures than people know how to count.
A chorus of living wood sings to the woman: If your mind were only a slightly greener thing, we’d drown you in meaning.
The pine she leans against says: Listen. There’s something you need to hear.