Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bird, Purple Sky and Apple Tree

With my cordless keyboard on my lap I have my window wide open and my legs feeling the slight breeze of late day. I have heard by voice and written in words that this time of day is one of the lonlinest: when day is ending and night has not yet come.

And to make the ache or longing of it that much more the sun, which has been held captive by the low clouds has now broke free so that the shades of greens in the Willapa Hills are saturated with the brilliant light and now as I write this a cloud to the west, to my left that I cannot see has taken away the sun from the fields but not the hills.

In the distant pasture there the grass is still brilliant but here I am in the shadow. My feet are bare and like being out. Light is spreading toward my window, nearer now and now closer and now...almost here, the light is moving like wave coming into shore...but it did not reach shore, the sun withdrew.

A red tail hawk sits on a fencpost and the humming birds are busy buzzing from tree limbs to feeders. Ahhhh...the wave has reached shore: the sun is here. The thin narrow leaves of the bamboo splash into an instant lighter yellow/green in the late day sun. I think if I wanted to I could measure many things by the bamboo, which is said to be a form of grass: isn't one thing just a form of another?

At twelve pm this afternoon I sitting on the steps of my deck, next to my little row of flowers that I've planted in some old wooden planter boxes, a great flock of greese flew overhead, heading in a north eastly direction. They were flying low not quite as low as yesterday. My eyes traces the dark of their wings against the slate sky. They were not one complete v but three or four smaller ones; chatting all the way as they do. Oh, what are you saying?

I remained sitting there and a long minute or two after they passedbye I was awed by a feather floating down in front of me almost with reach: I knelt on the grass and stuck out an arm as Pippie thought I'd gotten down to play. For a moment I couldn't see the feather all I could see was grass and then there is was and I picked it up and felt pure delight: I held between my fingers an under belly feather of one of THEM. It's maybe close to an inch long with fuzzy down, and at the fuller end of the feather there is hint of iridescent green.

A mourning dove is sitting on the highest branch of the dwarf apple tree. Though I saw a pair of doves earlier, in the black elm whose branches reach halfway across the deck and halfway across this upstairs window, (I feel almost that I am in a tree house) they seem to appear more often in the early mornings and at THIS time of day; the exit and entry time of day. I love their voice, how it rolls and grows and fades. It's a soothing sound. I'm not sure how they got their names; mourning doves.

The orange, yellow, purle , green and red windsock is twirling. The dove has not moved. I threw seed out this morning. It's why they come. The sky is purple above the Willapas I love that with the contrast of the green of the fields. The dove has left the apple tree and flown down to where I through the seed, now it's joined by the other. I wonder if they mate for life, or love the one they're with? Crows I see in pairs too.

A rufus jummingbird sits swinging on the bowed edge of a small branch on the black elm. Its red chest catches the sun and the spectrum of light is a marvel. A jay has joined the doves. My feet are cold though I love them being out sharing the wind, with bird, purple sky and apple tree.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Singing Streams

Swans flew high this morning and I opened the window to hear their distinct voices. Oh, what are they saying? To know would make me feel less like a foreigner in the natural world. Two nights ago Dean was burning some rags from the shop and I added on some twigs and willed the fire to continue: it smoldered into smoke. I went to the woodpile and feltched pieces of bark and splinters of wood and Dean in the meantime had gone back into the shop and added to the smoking little pile of dampt twigs, some wood ends.

We coaxed flames and then sat around the fire as the sky grew dark. A wolf called out from downriver, from one of the islands. It was a longer sound than I normally hear when they are nearby in the field: this was one long wail and again, I longed to understand the words. A large flock of geese flew over low and I could the wind in their wings and the pounding drops on the metal barn roof of their droppings.

I said to Dean, I wonder if we'll be blessed: to have their droppings dropon us. Dean said (hoping it would not happen)...it would make us feel in touch right. Right, I said and meant it. So afraid we are oftentimes of getting stuff on us. Yesterdays rain was not cold and I cut some branches full of springs blossoms to bring inside the house: it was Easter afterall. I did not wear a coat and didn't mind my hair getting wet and it was such a freedom to move freely in the rain instead of dodgeing it as if I could.

I not longer want to edge around things, I want to walk thorugh them. I don't want things divided in my life by good or bad, or desirable or not desirable: more than ever I want to feel the wholeness of life. No more eating banana nut bread and picking out the nuts.
Am I feeling this way because it is Spring? I know that winter over my shoulder moving away, while ahead are the warmer days and the bluer skies. I am come now to seek color inside my home, to bring the brightness in.

The earlier rain has stopped now and islands of blue are cast about in the sky; the sky an ocean of white and gray. The fields are green and the bamboo green with glows of yellow. I like that the bamboo refuses to loose its leaves in winter. And oh, it's bending ways while a winter wind blows, throwing them forward and then backward. The black elm is budding out with leaves, as is the locust in the front of the house. The leaves on the locust are minitures of the mature leaf; they are waxy and shine and in them I see the life of the tree in motion. I see a moment of the trees' life. This tree that is one hundred years old. How many leaves have grown and shed and grown again on this tree?

Dean went into Lowes and talked with a woman who works there and lives down the road from us a mile. She said they had bought goats to eat down their grass in the field because they are tired of mowing and we wondered if one of their goat could be the dead one. Dean did not ask. So there is a suggestion of where the goat might of have come from but I cannot see a goat walking on Willow Grove Rd and making it a mile. It must have dropped off the back of the truck that was delivering them if anything.

The sun is shinning now and crows are whirling in the air: off as they always seem to be, to some planned pace. A great blue heron, it's large wings easily moving it's light body through the air has sailed by, gone now out of view. Think of all the lives that are going on out of view.

Think of a stream that is not seen and the life of it going on, on and on. How it flows over and swirls around the smooth rocks on the bed of the stream. It's a comfort to know there are singing streams even when we dream.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wooly Dogs and Old Photos

Discovering new information about the Chinook and Cowlitz Indians has become a deep seated interest of mine. In the an upstairs wall of our farmhouse (which is beside the Columbia River) we found a small faded photo of a two children sitting on a large cedar log washed up on a beach. There are more logs and driftwood washed up behind them on the beach and then what looks like a stand of perhaps cottonwood or alder trees. The two children, a boy and a girl could be sister and brother, her being maybe six and he being not more than a year and a half older than her.
Brother, I will call him, is hold in his arms a small size black and white dog. I've just finished reading that the Chinook village dogs which they had in the hundreds were beagle like looking and most were black and white. After read that I got up, walked into the room where the photo was found and where it sits now on a dresser and sure enough I see the dog is small and black and white. This makes it highly likely that this could have been a Chinook Village dog. The photo looks as though it could have been taken at the time our house was built. 1903.
This picture and the children in it and the beach they are on intrigue me. I believe those children where standing not too far from our house. Perhaps they lived here. Tonight for the first time, after many times of looking at the photo notice that Sisters' homespun shabby little dress is wet on the front and Brothers' rolled up coveralls are also wet. They'd been playing in the river.

I want to know who these children were for they are most likely gone from this world, but I wonder, did they run up the same porch steps that I often sit on in the afternoon when the sun is warming it? Did they thin spindly but strong legs climb the stairs to bed and race down them in the morning? They might have lived in this house but lived in a different world. No road with cars buzzing by, no separation of road from river. I bet they ate lots of salmon and saw on occasion Chinook or Cowlitz Indians go by in their canoes. There were not many left by then but there were some and a canoe was still the best transportation on the river. Steamboats were going at that time. I have seen a photo of an Indian man and wife paddleling their canoe with a steamboat in the background.

About the dead goat. Dean was talking with Sheryle McCoy who lives about half a mile down the road. She told him they had goats now. Could be one of theres. Dean didn't ask if they had one missing. I can't image though that it would have walked on the road for that half mile or more but you never know. It could have been in the night when there is hardly any traffic.

The wind blew this morning and I laid in bed listening to lit. It's great, like listening to a conversation; an interesting one and not having to participate but just be there and listen. I watched a pair of crows trying to manuver in the wind while chasing a march hawk. They must have seen it catch a mouse from the field. And yesterday I saw a little bird, sparrow? giving a hard time to a bald eagle; both flying, the little bird diving down toward it then manuvering away. Protecting a nest? Oh, and on the same day I saw a crow carrying a twig; sprucing up last years nest. Amazing what goes on in the air!

So, who are these two children and their dog and where are they standing? They are both smiling for the camera. Their hair cut off short no doubt by a pair of sheers in the house...our house? Did their hair fall on this old wooden floor? That young hair that grew so long ago. Intriguing thoughts all of them.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wind, Bees and Trees

Some of my favorite trees are at the coast on cliff tops. So beautiful they are with missing limbs; sculptured by the wind they are standing evidence. The wind would be less without trees and less too, the wind.

I heard the rain on the skylight above my bed most of the night. We have an east wind blowing this morning. The bamboo seems to have captured a gust of wind and refuses to let it go so that the bamboo sways different ways; perhaps both wind and bamboo are enjoying the other.
I have never doubted that trees and wind are the dearest of friends; the tree giving voice to the wind and the wind bringing news to the trees so that together they become stronger.

This is a follow up to yesterdays post, which had a question about the bees that I saw pollinating the black elm. I've discovered that bees do indeed turn nectar into honey. I probably wasn't paying attention in 4th grade science, which doesn't surprise me. A honey bee has two stomachs one is their regular stomach and the other is the nectar stomache. They suck the nectar into their honey stomache go back to the hive were the other worker bees suck the nectar out from the stomaches through the mouth. It takes about twenty minutes for the enzymes in the bees mouth to break the complex sugars into simple sugars. The bees then put the nectar in the honeycombs. Water evaporates which turns the nectar syrupy. The bees fan the thickening nectar with their wings causing the water to evaporate faster. Now we've got honey. It is then efficiently sealed off with wax.
And all of this is going on between my walls! 'If walls could talk'; mine do.

Between Star, Dragonfly and Bees'

The bees have lived in this old farmhouse for going on fifty years. They occupy the inside wall behind the upstairs toilet. Before plumbing and electricity was added to our home this bathroom was a linen closet. There were times in the past when I found it a bit disquieting to hear the buzzing of hundreds of bees while sitting with my back to them...with my pants down!

I see the bees differently now; now we share the house. I've held a glass against the wall and listened to the goings on in there. I think that's when I decided they could stay. They sounded at home. The buzzing has become like the other house sounds ...creaking floors and stairs, the scratching of mice feet scurrying between a wall (I've followed their paths as though I had x-ray vision) and when a west wind in winter has grown to thirty to forty or even fifty knots the house has shuddered on it's pilling and cement foundation.

Back to the bees; there's been the odd bee now and then that has inadvertently found itself in the bathroom or hallway. I've become quite adept at getting bees into drinking glasses and slipping a piece of paper over the top and returning them outside.

I had an emergency situtation on my hands once; a bee was caught in a spider web that had been strategically set up next to the bee's enterence into their hive. The bee was struggling to get free and at a glance I saw the spider dashing toward the bee; I whipped the screen off the window (above the toilet) and stuck my hairbrush into the web, destroying it and sending the frustrated spider back to it's shadowy place. I watched the bee work at pulling the sticky web from it's wings. After a long minute, it flew away. To carry on with it's day, I thought. It might tell others in the hive about it's closecall and the mystery that saved it. Or so I imagine.

Last night was clear and the moon shone into my bedroom like a veiled sun and as I layed on my side facing the window I saw a star shinning through the bare branched locust tree. The star gave me the feeling that I was in place, perhaps in the same way the star was in place. I half turned and gazed over my left shoulder at a shadow of a dragonfly on the wall. It is a reflection from a candle buring beneath a glazed clay dome with a dragonfly pattern cut from it. So there I laid between a star and dragonfly and felt like a hum in the lyrical narrative of life.

I hear a great horned owl calling. The soft voice is round and it rolls out into the night and is answered by another. Oh, the marvel of mysteries.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hummingbird, Hydrangea and Found Goat

Yesterday our friend Brenda Cooper stopped on her way from Seattle down to Portland. She was having breakfast with us when she casually mentions the hummingbird by our door. What! I caught a blurr of it before it disappeared.

I dropped my fork in my pancakes and mixed up a batch of hummer food and Dean went out and filled the feeder; it's always a special day when the first hummingbird of the year shows up.

And today while taking off the dried blossoms of the hydrangea I heard the familiar buzz closebye my head as the hummingbird (rufus) flew by. It lets me know things are in place, that sound.

The sun just now has fallen behind the Willapa Hills and the golden light of it's last rays have left and it feels as though a door has been slammed and whoever went through it let the cold in. After living in the Pacific Northwest for going on thirty-five years now I'm finally getting to were I can say it's okay if it rains, if it snows (like it did yesterday) when its' 'not supposed to'. I give the weather a larger berth, that way it doesn't hit the sides of things and make a lot of noise; it's just the weather now doing weather.

You'd think this would be obvious but I'm telling you the most obvious things are those things that can elude us the most. This has been my life experience. About hydrangeas there are some that grow new growth from the bottom and some that grow it from the top. So, you don't want to be pruning yours down to the ground if it grows from the top.

If you have a hydrangea find out which you've got. I love them. Their blossoms can be dried so beautifully. Today while I was cutting last years dead blossoms away, (the ones I didn't take in and dry) a thought came to me...that life is a little like taking off the dead blossoms, I mean we can't hold onto last years blooms; those things we hold precious but have passed their season have to be let go of.
I know, I know, another obvious thing, but remember what I told you about me and the obvious. New leaf buds are opening on the hydrangea. I trimmed the stems just above these new buds. I'll have to pay attention and see when the flower comes out in relation to the leaves.

The black elm is covered with blossoms but you have to know what you're looking for to see them because this is a wind pollinated tree and doesn't need colorful blossoms to attract insects or what ever visitors would buzz by to pick and pick up pollen and spread it about. In the case of this tree, it's the wind's job, this passing about of pollen. I read somewhere that a tree is exactly like a flower but bigger.
Voltaire loved trees and planted hundred of them and with everything else he accomplished in life he said he wanted to be remembered for planting trees. I've always liked that.

The Willapa Hills and the cedars and firs that grow along their ridges are silhouetted now against the evening pale and darkening blue sky. And the wind that was blowing from the east a few moments ago is barely blowing now so that the windsock mostly slack just lifting in efforts of a little wave.
After breakfast Brenda and I took a little walk along the road beside the river and it was then when we were walking back to the house that I saw the dead goat. It was just as the note in my mailbox last week had said; it was laying just west of the barns. It was on the outside of the pasture fence laying in the slight ditch that's created by the dike road.

We'd thought the note writer might have had mistaken a young deer for a goat, but no, they were right. It had longish fawn colored hair, the goat and was laying on it's left side with it's feet facing the road. Where did you come from? What happened to you? I thought when looking at it's face not wanting to peer into the two perfectly round holes in the hair where it's eyes once were.

I think someone dumpted it off. Already dead. A terrible thought but when I see dead animals by the side of the road my thoughts tend to lean to the terrible. We have never seen a goat all the eighteen years we've lived here in Willow Grove. Could it have accidently fallen out of the back of a truck while it was alive?

Could it have swum over from Fisher Island, I asked my husband. Fisher Island is about two hundred yards from our dock. He said, he supposed a goat could swim over but with all the coyotes living on the Island, he didn't see how a goat could stay alive. I agreed. The question rises in my mind like a cork that won't stay down in water; where did it come from?

It's not as though if knew it would change the situation for the goat. It's not a small goat. It's close to the size of our lab/mix dog. So, it's like maybe nearly seventy pounds. Something that big arriving, even if it's down the road a hundred or so feet or more, well, it seems like we ought to have known when it arrived, something that big. It's not like a feather dropped, or even a small bird.

I'm wondering now what to do about it. Just leave it? We live in the country (the fringe) and I suppose it would just sink into the ground eventually. Leaving a coat and loose bones as evidence. And hooves perhaps. Perhaps the county picks things up like this if they are notified. Maybe I'll give them a call. But what will they do with it? The landfill? Do they have regulations about animals in landfills? I'm sure they do. Oh, all these questions. If not for the note we might never have known. I'm glad to know though. I am.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Art and Life Now and Then and We.

My eye caught a glimmer of white in the field as I sat at my window. It was on a mound of dirt scooped out from one of the many ditches that drain Willow Grove. I watched and then saw a marsh hawk lift up a few feet and drop down again. Must have a mouse I thought. A crow sat on a nearby mound and then flew and circled and made a deep dive at the marsh hawk, which ducked and fluttered it's wings.

The crow took a dive at the hawk. This time the hawk put up more of a fuss and rose into the air and flew at the crow. How interesting I thought to be watching this action of the wild. Now they are both up in the sky diving at one another and there is no competition because the hawk out manuvers the crow ten to one. And I realize while watching this swooping and diving why some World War 11 planes were named after hawks; they're such amazing fliers!

After no more than two minutes it was settled that the hawk would keep what it had and the crow went back to his own mound of dredged soil.
I'm let to see the nature of these birds and I like that. It's a refreshing sight because there's not all this... oh, I hope I'm looking good while I'm flying and, oh, I hope this is how I'm supposed to be doing this.
There is no doubt about their actions. This might sound like a rather obvious observation but I am refreshened by it.
This 'dance' in the sky was not a performance; it was poetry with purpose. Art and life together. I believe we tend to separte art from life. I know I'm being drawn back to uniting the art and life by my longing for what I once had. And I wonder where it was along the way that I separted life from art.

The picture I am sharing of myself, my dad and my sister in this post was taken in 1965 in California. I'm twelve and wearing a dress sewn by my mother. I have on a white cardigan with the top buttoned. I wearing pale blue socks to match my dress and am standing with my feet neatly together (red sandels) with my hands rather gracefully clasped.
What I'm seeing in this image of me is a girl who is comfortable in her body, is wearing what she likes and has a self-possessed air about her. I can tell you when I became separted from her...it was when my legs grew longer and my waist narrower.
I got looks of approval from guys. It was no longer about feeling content and comfortable in myself; the stakes had changed, now it was about looking good for 'them'. I exchanged how I felt about myself for they felt about me. Bad trade.
How could I have given up that which had the most value. I became a slender young teen who knew she drew admiring gazes and she loved acting as though she were not conscious of them. The delight of being admired and acting as though it didn't matter.
I began turing all my attention outward and my inner world became a room boarded off. I stopped being friends with her, my inner self. I saw her as not being quite with it. She could embarras me. She was too honest. She could say the wrong thing! I mean, I don't think she even shaved her legs! But with all those inbetween years behind us now, we are closer friends now, her and I. I love seeing her straight unshaven legs in pictures and her hair that hangs to her shoulders and slips forward, which has never been to a salon. She's smiling in the picture and I imagine she is smiling at me that even then she I would be coming back for her.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Goat, Trees and The Way It Used to Be.

Last night after everyone left, Dean went to our mailbox which is across the road from our home(it's a typical county affair, a red flagged metal mailbox stuck in an old milking jug). Along with our mail was a handwritten note. He handed it to me after looking at himself with a perplexed look on his face. It read, "Dead goat on the west side of the barn beside fence next to road."

Dean said and I agreed, it must be a deer. It was late, almost midnight. I thought for a moment of getting the flashlight and going to take a look. I saw from the window the headlights of a car and thought it would be dangerous and besides I hate it when I'm driving and the dead eyes of an animal beside the road glare back at me in the headlights of the my car. And he said it was dead so there was no saving the poor thing.

I was home all day and it wasn't until I was pulling up onto the road from our driveway and looked west toward the barn that I thought of what poor dead animal was laying out of sight but yet there. Or, perhaps, I thought, someone had moved it. I came home just after midnight and it was when I approached my driveway with a car driving behind me on the narrow road that runs beside the river, that I thought of seeing what layed just beyond the barn. And I wondered when I drove down my driveway, how many things are going on just beyond arms; just beyond my sight lines. Things without number I imagine. And I feel a sadness about this; about what I am so close to yet I am disconnected from.

I will ,because I feel like it, in this case at any rate, blame the road; both for most likely killing the animal and for cutting me off from it. Since we moved here eighteen years ago there have been more than the average amount of car accidents (given any other stretch of road of same length). I blame the road for cutting me off from the river; for choking out the life from the land. I believe when land is parcelled and separated, it loses its essential nature; meanings it's power of place.

There was a time when this road with a speed sign that reads 35mph (which is ignored) was a slowly traveled dirt lane where a few horse drawn buggies traveled and got stuck in ruts when springs were rainy and warm and the river swelled with snowmelt. There was a time when the three hundred yards of earth between our front porch and the river was flat and naturally appointed with cottonwood and alder trees with shrubby willows fringing the sandy beach. But that is not now, now the river, like the dead 'goat' is close but so often out of reach. I long for that natural meeting of land and river; the sandy beach where the young children of this home a hundred years ago ran along and where drifting logs washed upon and dried in the sun. It all happened here once. Life was like that here once. If I had lived here then the dead young deer would have been so close I would by now have seen it and burried it and it would have felt closer, even though it was in the same place at it is now.

I love the closeness of the river but long for uninterrupted space. No dike road. But this house with it's old boards the pilings that it stands on has brought me home. I, perhaps was the stray that it took it; it feels that way, that the house took me in. And that the hundred year old laurel, black elm and locus trees were in on it too. So for now we are travelers together. The soul of the house lives in these trees that sit so close to the house; these trees that were sent for by the builder of this house and planted when they were saplings. You could say they have grown up here. When the house was vacant, as it was over the years the trees kept it company. When I first saw this old farmhouse, the trees, like children pushing their way to the front of a crowd, wanted me to know that they came with the house. Not to be separated. I cannot imagine the house without the trees; perhaps wood never dies and the house and the trees have grown together. So, it seems to me. I wonder if it is still there...the dead animal?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Invisible That Holds Everything.

The wind is blowing from the west so that the bamboo is bowing down as though hailing some greatness to the east.
The wind, since the metal on the barn roof has begun to come lose, has become the voice of the barn; that is the way I hear it anyway. I have been out in the field and watched the corner of the roof lift and then fall and I have counted three, four and five seconds until it's voice has reached me.
I think of that invisible that the voice has traveled on, and I wonder about that space that is everywhere; in us and around us. I don't attempted to wrap my mind around it; I have no wish to make the wonder of it that small or my mind stretched out of shape by the attempt. I just let it be.
A lean to along side the barn came down with the big snow in December. So now what I am hearing along with the falling of the corner of the barns' roof, is the hitting of a hammer on wood. I looked over there, for they are not our barns (they did at one time belong to this house, those who lived in this house were dairy farmers and those barns housed their cows) Someone it seems has been hired to take away the metal roof of the lean to that collapsed the snow. I don't know if the hammering is the taking down of the wooden structure that held the roof or the strengthening of it so that a new roof will replace the old.
I wonder what he (it is a he) thinks of the talk that comes from the barn on this wind blown morning.
The sun comes out in bursts and then just as suddenly is gone. The thick bodies of clouds are blowing eastward too; off, it seems in a hurry somewhere; like someone walking a fast walk that it to dignified to run when not dressed in a running outfit.
Shadows and bright spots wave across the southern face of the Willappa Hills. The cows (not our cows) are out grazing. I see two calves, both black. The cows like mornings like this, greeted as it seems by a warm friendly world.
The lean to is silhouetted against the evening sky in the photo and the edge of the barn roof is seen just to it's left. It is that corner that lifts and falls and gives voice and travels on the invisible that holds everything.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I saw it earlier; that time just before the sunsets when all is saturated with syrupy sunshine so that all colors are heightened. It stops me and like a voice calls me to look at it; to listen to it; to feel it. And I do.

A vase of tulips on the small table beside the couch is shadowed on the wall and I am stunned by it and the light seems to say, 'see I told you so this is amazing stuff'. Yes, I say this is amazing. I call Dean to come and see before it goes...those shadows of tulips. And the sunshines on the picture of my father that sits just below the tulips so that he looks as though he is laying on the deck where I took the photo in the shade; he looks now as though he is laying in the sun with shadows playing as shadows often did across his face.

And I do believe in what I wrote as dialogue in my play, "Swimming Lessons" It was Pamela Markam and she says that if you want to find the seams in life you'll find them in the afternoons. She continues on and says that it is at this time that if you look to the side while concentrating straight ahead you can see them. And if you're real careful you can take a seam apart then, take something out or put something in; fix something and sew the seam back together again.

The other time is as I described above when everything is brought together and held up; when all catches the light and says, 'amazing stuff'. Yes, it is amazing...all of the stuff of life. I wonder how I can doubt life when it manages to hold so much amazement at the same time having room for suffering. It is the ache of life, is that, that ability life has of holding both.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pollen, Bee and Tree

I watch buds swell then open and along comes the bee and pollinates the tree. This little tree just behind our home gives us an amazing amount of apples. We share them with family members who look forward to their crisp, sweetness every year in early fall. We've seen deer come at dusk and eat the apples from the tree. We quietly watch them and take pleasure in their pleasure. There is enough apples to share. Later, when the apples are becoming riper so that we choose to leave some, the starlings descend and enjoy. Then after the apple falls to the ground and sometimes even before the yellow jackets are busy about them. I think they like eating rotten things. She is a beautiful tree so dainty.
Watched Night of the Iguana tonight. Fantastic film!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mozart, Cecily and Mrs B.

I closed the shade on my window; released the string that holds in place the thin bamboo woven window cover. I can't remember the last time I did this because the view from this window of the branches of the black elm that reach far over the deck and the field often dotted with cows and calves and great blue herons and geese is so pleasing to me.

As the light from the window fell, a shift came over me. I was listening then as I am now, to Mozart. When the shade was up the music spilled through the window out past the black elm and into the field and like a stream found it's way northward to the Willapa Hills. With the shade down the music swirled around me, bringing me into place; stilling me so that I felt like a leaf floating at that quiet place where Coal Creek Slue no longer flows but comes to rest against reeds and canary grass.

I wonder if I dare believe I can live at the center of my own life instead of at its edges? I've lived at the edges for such a long time. But no more. There is no one to blame. I suppose with what I knew at the time I went willingly thinking it was my proper place. Flattening my back against the wall to make more room for others. Ah...more room for what and for whom?
Delightful questions. I wrote the following once because it came to me in one of those wonderful flash of knowing moments; "I won't live in the margins anymore. I will take up the whole page." I must have thought it because it was time to see it.

Perhaps we become aware of our higher knowing much in the same way we do when we approach, say, a shop window and see ourselves standing there; I mean we had to arrive first in order to see ourselves; we have to arrive at the place we need to be to become aware of what we know; what has always been there to know. We show up and we're there! I've begun to honor my life experiences as knowledge. By doing this wisdom grows. It makes such sense...because where would we be without fertalizer for our gardens? What has been digested and processed become nutrituous and feeds new growth.

When I wrote "The Immigrant Garden" play so many years ago now, was it in 1990? I was conversating with both my older wiser self and my young, frailer self; from that place of conversation came Louise Beauchamp and Cecily Barnes. When Mrs Beauchamp writesto Cecily telling her that she often carries on long conversations with her flowers. Cecily writes back. "You say you often hold lengthy conversations with flowers but tell me...what sort of things do flowers say?"

I love what Mrs B (as she's become known to me) answers. "Dearest Cecily you too have heard the voice of flowers. You have not forgotten you have only stopped remembering."
So, I am remembering. Just think...re-member-ing; putting pieces back together! Oh, the things listening to Mozart can do with the window shade down and no one in the room but you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring in The Field

I was alone. Dean was away sailing and I went for a walk in the field and sat in the tall, late spring grass and looked back and saw my home without seeing the road behind it so that all was green and trees and me in the field. With Toby.

Tree Reminds Me

I am not the only one who sees something of themselves in a tree. What is it I don't all the way know. There are some things I glimmer such as the limbs...I have limbs and I like to feel I at times bloom. And while not in bloom I know I have the makings of blossoms. I love the thought of heart wood, that soft center of the tree. I like their stillness and love it when the wind comes by and seeks out a voice from the tree. Yes, I know why I love a tree. There are many reasons but just now these are enough for me.

Gardening, Starlings and Chickens

It was a balmy 54 degrees today with not a breeze and the afternoon sun shone on the west side of our home. I brought a cushion out and with my garden trowel took out weeds from the narrow bed that borders the west side of the house. I was reminded how important it is to be careful while weeding...I cut down, before they even had a chance to become flowers, three daffodil shoots. Ugh. There they laid, their pale, softeness cut off, separated from their life giving bulbs. How could I have been so careless? A thoughtless weeder can take out flower as well as weed.

And I wonder how many times I have done this with other things in my life; how many times have I wanted to rid my life of someone or something and taken the 'flower' as well? And how many times have we read that we need to be in the moment? And how many times do we need to read it to know it?

Any small patch of earth that you cultive, be it one inch by one inch, can teach you endlessly about observing and touching and smelling and listening and how to be careful.

You know how I've been telling you about the starlings spending the night in our hedge? Well two nights ago I heard a great horned owl and went outside because I could tell that it must have been in the willow tree that is covered by wisteria. It was. But that is not what I encountered when I walked toward the tree. You see, the hedge is between the willow tree and me (at that moment). My cat Little One was jumping up into the hedge and oh, the fluttering and the panic of those hundreds of wings!! I ran toward my leaping cat who was attacking the hedge but he was crazed. And now he must have singled one of them out and was going after it because he was jumping up and moving as though following one. Which he must have been doing because the where he jumped and moved to was now a single flutter amongst the laurel leaves; away from the rest. Oh, it was heart breaking. Our hedge was not a safe haven. And Little One was brought to me by my sister Josi when he was only 5 weeks old and had been dropped off at Kalama beach and her dogs were about pounce on him. So he was saved and now he's become the hunter. Not that this is news. I mean, I have seen him with a bird in his mouth more than once before and a field mouse often enough to know he's a healthy cat and enjoying living on the outskirts of town and in close to an old barn and big field.

And plenty of times I have worried about him getting swooped away by one of the great horned owls. He practically glows in the dark because he's mostly white with some gray spots on him. He could look like a rabbit, or a cat for that matter; a great horned owl would take either. But it seems to me that a cat with it's claws could put up more of a fight.

I am thinking about getting chickens. I've thought about it plenty of times before and once we came close, but it was the one time that I'd changed my mind. We have coyotes that come around. Sometimes so close that you can hear their voices coming from their throat. I mean, if I get chickens would that be another thing to worry about getting attacked. But then I think, well, we'd build a very secure chicken coop.
And I wouldn't want it too far from the house because I'd want to feel that the chickens were safe and closebye. But I know how chicken manure can smell. But then I'd be keeping it clean so it wouldn't smell. I'm pretty sure I'd feel better if it were closer to the house than further away. I've never had chickens before. Just popping outside and picking up our eggs would be great and also I love birds. I really do think I would enjoy them. Spring is coming and it'll be baby chick time soon.
So, we'll see. Definately though I wouldn't want their coop too far from the house and maybe we could put a light sensor on the coop so when something is prowling around we'd know about it, which would mean that we'd need something in the house that would let us know that the light went on.
I'm not going to think too far ahead about the possible bad things that could happen. If we do that we woudn't do anything right? I can see myself getting the chicks. And if Dean is into this, which I think he is, then he'll get that chicken coop built and enjoy it at the same time.

I think we're going to get chickens!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just Beyond my Porch

I sit on my front porch and look out at the laurel tree that is just poking a branch out into the picture; you should see the huge rest of it, and the ornamental cherry trees. There are three of them and they look like whirls of pink cotton candy when they're in their full spring bloom. And their scent!! Their scent is like what you'd imagine honesty would smell like, that sweet, that clean. I love to walk into the shade of these trees not for the coolness but for the closeness I feel to them there.

The Sky in My Backyard.

To think we are together in this world with things such as clouds, with things such as sky; sky above and below us and on either side of us. Amazing.


I opened my front door early this morning to put my cats out and watched and listened to the starlings as they started their day by leaving my hedge. They left in swarms, I suppose the ones closest to the top of the hedge might have flown first. I felt as though I were peering into their bedrooms, watching them get dressed for the day. There is more than a hundred of them that have taken to sleeping in the hedge lately. I don't know how long they will do this. At dusk I walked up the driveway to the mailbox. I didn't realize they were just settling in and I frightened them and the ones that were settling in darted out and flew back up to the telphone lines, or whatever those lines are that are strung up on telephone poles. (I'm almost sure they're not telephone poles. Ah, they'll be electrical lines, utility lines).

I felt bad that I'd frightened them off so when I left the mailbox I walked back across the road and walked down our other driveway. I stopped halfway and when I stood just in the right spot I could see through the branches of the laurel tree (not to be mixed up with the laurel hedge) and I could see them returning and disappearing into the hedge.

They in such numbers and the sounds of so many wings against so many leaves have the cats frightened and I think, good for them, good for those birds. And I think how in numbers even little birds can make big sounds and create a force that scares cats.

So, I think further and think about the speech that Bono made tonight at the NAACP awards. He said we can be the generation that ends poverty. He spoke from the deepest place of his heart and it makes me wonder what I am doing to help. Thousands of children dying everyday in Africa from starvation and even more from malaria; "a bite," he said, "from a mosquito". Oh, the greed and meaness that have let this happen is terrible to think about. How could this be happening. If we held one of those dying children in our arms we wouldn't; we couldn't, not do anything.
It makes the things that I worry about sometime petty and meaningless. Bono grew up in war torn Ireland and he heard the words of Martin Luther King and he was moved by them and has never forgotten them. Bono was created from the ashes of bombs you could say; he rose up to stand up against all the meaningless preventable deaths. He's a hero. And he's one man and look at what he has done.

He's collecting more people to stand up with him and he's being like the starlings...making all this noise with wings and he's scaring the fat mean cats away and he won't back away. There's not a lot of things that I can say I know for sure but I can say this about him, he'll never back away.

This is the day I saw the starlings get up and go to bed and heard Bono speak words with wings!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Moon Shadows

It was midnight when we came home and I wandered out to the edge of the field with my moon shadow. There was no breeze and the scent of cow pies (yes, scent i.e perfume). The night often holds scents that can't be discerned in day. Though of course, we've all (if we're lucky) have smelled cow pies in daylight. Perhaps it is on still nights. It's possible I'm imagining it but it feels like just beyond my ken I sense the ending of winter and the dawning of spring.
I saw today that little tuffs of grass are growing beneath the american elm. It's leafy branches spread out so far and cut off sunlight during the summer months so no grass grows. Or is it that I haven't paid enough attention and perhaps it was my not raking the leaves up sooner that killed what little grass was there. I was thinking of sprinkling some grass seeds and watching.

I put the cats on the front porch and the opening of the screen door caused the starling that roost in the hedge at night to rustle in the leaves sending me the sound of wind passing by. I like imagining the birds tucked cozily away in amongst the laurel leaves and so closebye. How many are there? Twenty-thirty? Fifty? More?

The river was low today. With the muddy bank of Fisher Island showing itself off more than it usually does this time of the year. I was thinking how so often the river puts me in context; I am one of those beings that lives along the river; I both observe the river and in a way feel I am observed by it. Whatever the mystery of that is I love it and don't need to understand it.

This afternoon I opened the window beside the dining table so I could hear the red-winged blackbirds sing as I construsted a wall hanging from the branches and mosses that came from the tree they were singing in. So now I've brought the american elm into my house; it's branches spread across my deck and partially veil the view of the fields. This tree is nearly a hundred years old. It is good company.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tide at Slack

It's almost noon and the tide is at slack, which means the river is not moving; the tide is not pushing the river up nor pulling it down toward the coast. The trees on Fisher Island are mirrored in the river and a seal moments ago, glissening a wet gray, lifted it's head and then with back arching slipped into that invisible opening and disappeared. That is how it seems. I watched to see it come up but from my window I did not see it resurface. A seal can hold it's breath for, I think anyway, near twenty minutes.

The large shards of tree trunks and stolen up roots of cottonwood, alder, sometimes fir and pine, have been piling up against our dock. But today the earlier tide action and the low river level have taken the ocean-going timber back up river; withdrawn it like a breath to exhale it again and send it back downriver to lay perhaps against the dock, bringing together all their pieces to make one whole gathering of ones.

It is in silence where the important things can be heard. So I believe. Perhaps silence is like a light in which it is by contrast that we can see; hear. I've always believed it is the silence between the notes that makes the music.

Tide at slack like this gives me room for these kinds of thoughts because it's as though a breath is being held. You know like we do when we're listening intently to hear something barely audiable---it's like that. Like the river at this time is suspending time as it is suspending the gulls and the drift wood; not so much as holding it in place but more like just letting it be in the place that it is in with no tugging this way or that.

I imagine that before life as we know it stirred on this planet this silence must have filled every cell of everything alive and perhaps from that silence life found room to grow.

I love these thoughts that emerge on mornings like this.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Field of Geese

Canadian Geese made the field theirs this morning and it was a delight to see them eating and napping and strolling through the grass. Just think of walking on your plate of food. I mean the freedom of it; nothing between you and what goes in your mouth and well, I suppose what comes out too.
The geese are a wonder to watch as they take off and land; changing from flight to feet; from air to ground. I have a feeling they are aware of their ability of flight; that they don't take it for granted. I have stood so close beneath them as they have flown over, with their wings curved for landing (I call it having their landing grear down); hearing their voices coming from their throats; their necks outstretched, their eyes focused ahead.

This morning's sun shinned on their white breasts. I've never noticed how white their breasts were before. Not long ago snow filled the field and they flew overhead. I wondered then where they were going to land for food. They were flying low.

Then there were the hunting a few weekends back. They dressed up in all their finery, being sneaky, waiting in hiding with the plastic toys out in the field! Dean and I were walking in our field and they were further down in the our neighbors field. Two geese fly over us and we called ot them to keep flying high. We watched as they headed to where the hunters were and then...we watched as the geese made a splendid quick left turn sending them over to Fisher Island and out of range of the hunters. I like to think we played a part in their decision.

The starlings are sleeping in the hedge tonight as they have been for a while now. I hear their wings fluttering against the waxy laurel leaves. It's nice knowing they are there; trusting the hedge that we planted to give them an abode for the night.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riverbank of Eons Past

The channel of the Columbia River once ran were my home now sits and I cannot forget that nor do I want to. The Willapa Hills that I see to the north through my window were once the River's bank. For eons the river eroded away the basalt rock, cutting it's way toward it's destination of the Pacific Ocean. From the front window I see The Coastal Range in Oregon, which is the same range of mountains I see out my back window-The Willapa Hills. It is the River that has separated them. But why Oregon calls the same hills the Coastal Range and Washington the Willapa Hills, I don't know. I lived here for more than a dozen years before I realized that this mountain range ran from north to south instead of east to west as it appears to do. So, here I am living on earth that has been washed down by the river and built up on this flat curve of land that is flat; bottom land they call it and for more than a hundred years Willow Grove (a six-mile island except for a few feet of roadway) was full of dairy farms. With Coal Creek slow across the fields from my back window and from my front window the Columbia River with Fish Island as my nearest neighbor; this is an island. One, though, I believe must seek our landscape; reach out to it, if you will, before it will reveal itself. It is worth the stretch.