From the top of Mt. Vision yesterday the familiar terrain of the park (pdf) came apart like pieces of a puzzle, almost indecipherable. What surprised me the most was how close Abbott's Lagoon is to Drake's. My quotidian experience of the park's landscape are formed and limited by the roads. Because a turn onto Pierce Point Road is necessary to get to Abbott's, my sense of where it lies is 'off that way'. It feels quite far from not only Drake's but from every other "destination". I drive to Chimney Rock, or to the Lighthouse, or to Kehoe Beach or to Limantour. Rarely do I walk from one of these places to another, both because of distance and the limits of time. The exception to that sense of two places connecting in terms that I have travelled is Drake's and Limantour.
One of my first outings in the park was a day's paddle, also my first kayak trip, in Drake's Bay. We put in at Johnson's Oyster Farm in my friend's folding kayak and paddled in wonder at the leopard sharks and bat rays under our boat. We lunched on the spit and told stories from our lives. That day I first heard the word Limantour, and that's how I viscerally "know" that Limantour and Drake's are connected, both cradled by the spit. I've also looked in on Limantour and Drake's Bay from Chimney Rock, so I "know" that proximity by sight as well. But driving to these two places requires opposite directions. Limantour feels like a separate place, knowing it only from the road.
I don't have a copy of California Place Names here, but if I did I'd want to look up Mt. Vision. Certainly I've been up there before looking down over the park, but yesterday gave me new perspective. Perhaps it was named "vision" because of some similar experience.
If the 30-year-old plans to create an urban center here hadn't been fought and the park created in its place, my experience of the land would be completely different. I'm sure there would be a road going directly from the Abbott's Lagoon Ranch Estates to the Drake's Bay Oyster Bar, and from there, it would be only a short drive to the Limantour Beach Vista del Mar community.
The few roads we have in the park help keep distance mysterious and primal. A trip to Mt. Vision puts it in perspective. Cheers to the people who fought for this park, and won.
* * * *
Tommorrow is another group blogging topic opportunity at the Ecotone. We're posting about one of two topics: 'How we are defined by the place we live NOW, or how we are defined and shaped by the place we have lived in at some point'. Please join us if you'd like.
posted by Lisa on 8:28 AM link |
I interfered with nature and now I regret it.
I've always loved these gangly insects that roam my walls. Until this morning, I've called them mosquito hawks, but now I learn that they are called crane flies, and that they don't eat mosquitos. If I'd known that, and something about crane fly anatomy, I probably wouldn't have interfered like I did.
There's a large spider web outside my kitchen windows. One fine morning a couple of days ago, I saw this crane fly struggling fiercely--caught in the web. In a weak moment, without giving it due consideration, I thought, would it be so wrong if I just saved this one guy? And before I could stop myself, really, I was outside, back to the sun, extricating a crane fly from a spider web. Now those of you who have been in this position, or perhaps are just less headlong than I, can already see what's coming. But I didn't. Too late, I realized that the stickiness of a spider web is no match for the spidery legs of a crane fly. By the time I'd gotten all of the webbing off of him, he'd lost several legs.
I brought him to my bathroom, a generous habitat for crane flies. He immediately began to traverse the redwood walls, with his few legs and his wings seemingly working fine. Victorious, I thought. He'll eat the mosquitos in my house in return for his life. I interfered, yes, but was it that bad...hmmm...no.
The next day, however, brought a sorry sight. On the window sill of my shower, I found him, caught in...yet...another...spider...web. This time the leg pulling was too much for him. He retired, right there on the window sill. As gentle as I could be, that was not gentle enough.
Poor damned crane fly who died anyway, poor spider, who should have had that big treat for dinner, but didn't, and me, who tried to save a life, but took one instead. The spider web is full again, but I'm not looking too closely for awhile. If something is struggling over there, it's better I don't know about it.
posted by Lisa on 2:55 PM link |
We found lots of huckleberries, but no bear or signs of bear on the walk yesterday from Shell Beach to Pierce Point Road. The weather was rare: hot, clear and amazing. Between entering the wooded trail to emerging three hours later at the top we entered the bears' world. We looked through his eyes at berries, thickets, and terrain. The forest was enchanted with birdsong and birds. We saw wilson's Warblers, Pacific-Sloped Flycatchers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Bushtits, some Wrentits including a fledge, and most amazingly, a family of five Great Horned Owls.
We entered a sort of glade towards the last mile and a half of the trail and saw first one, then the second and third fledgling owls fly in front of us and populate pine branches to our left. On the right and behind us was one adult, and the other was in front of us. We all just looked at each other. The adults with one eye half-closed but wary, the juveniles with big yellow eyes and akward neck movements. They seemed to be full-sized, but their face colors weren't defined and contrasted, their eyes were yellow like full moons, and their were slightly ruffled and new looking.
After awhile we moved on, feeling that we were intruding on a family scene and making everybody nervous. We couldn't get very far without indulging in huckleberries, especially at certain parts of the trail where they were ripe and prevelant. We tried eating like bears might, using only the mouth to pull the little berries from their branches. That method probably works better when you don't mind eating some unripe berries, and a few leaves. Best left to more bear-like bears than me.
Further along than the owls we came upon a paper wasp nest just off the trail, with tree branches that travel right through it. It's strange to say that nature reminds me of art, but I thought immediately of Andy Goldsworthy and his cairns.
The walk was followed by an equally enchanting swim at Shell Beach. We swam out in that wonderfully cold water, lay for awhile on the swimming platform, then swam even further out to the last buoy. By noon I was back here working on websites again. Inspired, renewed and loving life. Walks just don't get any better.
If you look at yesterday's comments, you'll see that the bear has again been sighted above Perth in Inverness, right outside town, really. That will be tomorrow's walk!
*This post belongs to yesterday, but Blogger was transmorphing my blog to the new format and I couldn't post. Please note that "tomorrow" is really today, etc.!
posted by Lisa on 9:04 AM link |
The bear is still afoot, or should I say, apaw? At Friday night's Environmental Action Committee annual potluck dinner a friend of mine heard a rumor near the coffee urn and it was confirmed on KWMR on the Park Wavelengths show. The bear was seen one week ago yesterday in Bear Valley at one of the park residences, near the compost bin. I also heard a report that somebody had seen bear scat at Heart's Desire State Park the day of the fire, that would have been Friday.
Later this morning, my friend and I are going on a bear hunt...a hunt for tracks and scat, that is.
Yesterday I watched a bat ray swim around in my particular cove for half an hour and decided that instead I'd swim at Shell Beach. I was worried that at low tide I could startle the ray and get accidentally stung. I'm not sure if it would work that way, but I didn't want to take a chance. One day last week I was swimming back into shore and saw a ray ahead of me. I thought, "...how cool, I'm in the water with a ray", and then I thought, "oh crap, there's a ray between me and shore and I have to put my feet down sometime." I breast-stroked as close to the surface as possible and didn't stop swimming until my nose practically touched sand. No big deal.
But I'd forgotten how much I love swimming at Shell. I love the long path winding and descending through the forest and emerging onto a perfectly beautiful beach, the sandy slope into the water is angled just right for a swim at any tide or time, and a swim out to the platform and back is an ideal length for a swim. I love to stand on the platform and ride the swells and scan the distant shoreline, closer than before.
Not so late Saturday night on return from the city, we saw a very tall red fox crossing from one pasture into another via Nicasio Vally Road. It didn't run or even lope, it walked across the street, as big and measured as a large dog.
posted by Lisa on 6:23 AM link |
Yesterday afternoon I smelled smoke. I got on the phone with a neighbor who said she'd heard lots of sirens racing into the park but didn't know what was going on. I headed into the park myself and followed some fire engines out to a turnout just before the entrance to Heart's Desire. On the way there, our local radio station KWMR filled me in. There was a fire at Shallow Beach, between Heart's Desire and Shell Beach. The homes at Shallow Beach were being evacuated.
We're a ways off from Shallow Beach, but we are the next set of homes should the fire head south along the shoreline of the bay, the direction of the howling winds. As I drove out there I couldn't see any smoke, and I could no longer smell it. When I got back home, though, the smell was strong. I called my neighbor again, who said she was going to stop packing. "Packing?" I cried.
She told me that ever since the Inverness Fire they'd had evacuation orders in her house, and a metal box already filled with irreplacable papers.
Since she wasn't going to pack, I figured I'd go swimming. The wind was really wild down on the beach, and the eastern shore of the bay was 80% white with chop. I swam straight out and then looked up the coast, but I still couldn't see any major source of smoke. But by now it was hurting my lungs. The smoke was picking up.
When I got back to my cabin I decided to pack some things. Better to have done it and not needed it than to be caught unaware and given short notice on evacuation. First I packed the guitar and my drum, then my photo albums, passport and social security card, and a sleeping bag with a pad. After that I was paralyzed with uncertainty. I made a list then, of valuable items: work related files, dog food and medicine, artwork, small gifts from people who love me, electronics, what? It was getting harder and harder to think straight. Nothing seemed very important. I tried to make myself concentrate. What would be difficult to replace? What do I value? Is it all expendable?
The radio was giving updates every ten or fifteen minutes. I heard that a helicopter and two planes were now fighting the fire, many fire departments were there, two wildland fire fighting units had arrived, two bulldozers were on their way, the fire was only 2-3 acres, but the winds were heavy. I knew some of this for myself. The helicopter was making passes directly overhead as it flew between picking up water and dropping it on the fire, and the wind was gusting loudly against the eaves. I kept imagining the fire just over the ridge. The wind and the helicopter were shaking my house like a precursor to the fire.
On the radio, they gave the number for the Inverness Fire Department. I missed it, but decided to call. The woman who answered, I'll have to find out who that was, was great. I told her where I live and asked if I should be packing. She said no, and when she did relief entered my body and tears sprung into my eyes. I hadn't realized until that moment how afraid I had been. She told me to stay aware and to stay awake, but that they had the fire contained to one acre, and they were hitting it with everything they had, and that two wildland fire units would be sitting the fire all night.
Outside, I could no longer smell the smoke. The wind remained, a reminder of the vitality and the danger. This morning, instruments are left by the door, a list of valuables, my passport and a little knowing in my body. I could lose everything someday. Yesterday could have been the day. It would be scary and deeply unsettling to lose my home and my belongings, but when I confronted my "things" and thought about what to save, it was clear that none of it really mattered. It seemed absurd to pack my truck with mere things, and it was difficult to assign more meaning to certain objects in my home than others. Was a TV worth saving, an expensive book, a snuff bottle, a piece of jewelry, my leather jacket? Some items I knew I should save like photos and my computer, my common sense didn't desert me, but there was an absurdity that became apparent in placing heirarchical value on things at all.
Who knows what I would be saying if I had indeed lost "everything", it might be a completely different story I'd be telling about my things. I guess 'evacuation orders' are called for in my home: a list compiled on a very commonsensical day of things I should grab if the orders ever came to walk away from the path of the fire. I should also buy some renter's insurance, and put a sign next to the door that a dog lives here, in case she's here without me. I also need batteries for my radio. Time to get prepared.
posted by Lisa on 7:53 AM link |
Here's something I've wondered about. Wouldn't you be ashamed to call yourself a war blogger? I can understand that some people believe that a particular war might be justified, and might want to argue its benefits or their particular reasons for thinking so, but why would it follow that they would want to name themselves after not just that war, but war in general. Once you've called yourself a war blogger, how can you go back? Could you then be against the next war without renaming yourself? We like to believe that even amongst the people who believe war is necessary and reasonable, it's considered a terrible last resort, an evil necessity. But the people who've named themselves war bloggers are aligning themselves, with their very names, with that act.
If I call myself a peace blogger, and you call yourself a war blogger, will we ever be able to hear each other? And if we can't hear each other, how can we ever expect nations to hear each other rather than go to war. Then again, would I be the only one in the conversation to hope for that?
Despite these questions, today I submitted my link to peaceblogs.org, for the sake of balance. I have some qualms about naming myself a peace blog, but none about declaring myself as a person standing up for peace. I am not simply "against war", I'm "for peace". I'm not trying to further divide the world into "us" and "them". I don't proclaim it because I want a fight, I say it as declaration and because peace seems like a thing worth having, a good idea, one worth living for.
posted by Lisa on 8:01 AM link |
For no particular reason, other than that I heard it recited lately, and loved it, I'd like to share this poem. James Stephens is a great Irish poet (Follow this link, then scan down the page to a photo of James Stephens, James Joyce, and John Sullivan.
Good and bad are in my heart,
But I cannot tell to you--
--For they never are apart--
Which is better of the two.
I am this! I am the other!
And the devil is my brother!
But my father He is God!
And my mother is the Sod!
I am safe enough, you see,
Owing to my pedigree.
So I shelter love and hate
Like twin brothers in a nest;
Lest I find when it's too late,
That the other was the best.
Have you ever been to 'Real Women Online'? Now's your chance. This week's Carnival of Vanities is up.
posted by Lisa on 7:19 AM link |
Of the seven Osprey nests in the vicinity of the Perth trail, I think four of them have chicks. I've only seen the actual chicks in two of them, though. They're quite big now. The nest that sits below trail has only one chick. The other day it was lying on its side, and a neighbor said he saw it in the same position this weekend. I wonder if it was attacked in the nest. It lifts its head, but apparently can't stand. This young Osprey is the most beautiful thing -- golden, radiant colors, fresh feathers. It's by far the most beautiful bird I've seen. I hope to check on it today, especially if this fog holds and keeps me out of the water.
I hear that the Osprey nest above the Episcipalean Church has chicks. I don't know about the nest at Millerton Point, or the nest on the way to Limantour in an old pine.
And by the way, the bear has not been heard from. Not a track seen nor a trash can overturned. Guess he went back to wherever he came from.
Yesterday my thermometer read 80 degrees, and this morning it's 55. The sun sure felt good. I took phone calls outside, curled up in my redwood chair. Even took a little break out there with a book mid-afternoon. Sweet sunshine. From there, it was a straight shot down to the beach for a long swim. It was high tide, so I dove in a few feet offshore, swam out and then parallel to the beach to the pier and back. I imagined my body getting strong, shedding its winter bagginess, like loose jeans that come out of the drier fitting like a glove. I imagined swimming across the bay, all the way across. I imagined long summer days drifting in my kayak, then falling overboard into the soothing coolness of water. When it's hot like yesterday, it's easy to imagine that it will always be so, and though I know better, I indulge that fantasy of heat. A summer day wants to be indulged. It wants to tug at the damp corners of your imagination and hang them on the clothesline until they're bleached beyond color, taut and white. Summer days are gifts of time. Lazy, sweet-hot, shimmering time.
posted by Lisa on 8:07 AM link |
One Hand in the Earth
Iíve come late to a love of the land, to an affinity for place. It snuck up on me while I was consumed with matters of the heart and other fiery occupations. One day I was tightrope-walking along, juggling fireballs and swords, minding my business, when I became aware of a familiar sensation. I felt a dull ache in my heart and tension in my belly, like love, but not directed at any two-legged beast, but towards the very ground.
Two places on this earth have drawn me in that way: the beach where I lived in Nayarit, Mexico, and this place where I stand, the Point Reyes Peninsula. What occasioned this re-drawing of my spirit and attention? I believe it had something to do with time, and hands, and eyes.
I spent four years going back and forth between these two places of beauty, calling both of them home. This was the longest stretch of time Iíd spent anywhere since early childhood, and the first time Iíd lived anywhere rural. In Mexico we built gardens and palapas, thatched roofs and fortified sea walls, repaired fences and fought back the jungle, and planted the sloped ground as fortification against the rains. Back in Olema, I grew plants as obsession, and though I didnít own the land, I worried it and learned how to dance with the earth to encourage green things to grow.
Meanwhile, I began to see the complexities of the land around me through the eyes of a friend who had love for it. I learned from him how to sit or walk quietly through a landscape and let it reveal itself. We ate cereal on our sun-drenched deck and looked up at Mounts Vision and Wittenberg and Point Reyes Hill, watched the birds come and go in our yard, saw them return in season to buid nests in our trees. In Mexico I applied this watchfulness to the tropical landscape, paying attention to the birds that fished the shoreline or the freshwater marsh that formed where the creek stalled next door, learning to see fish through the surface of waves, and studying the relationship of sand to sea when rocks were taken week after week from the beach in order to pave local roads or to build foundations.
Blake says that you canít stay in the Ďwalled garden of the loverí forever. If you try to hold onto that fire and passion, youíll fall all the way down to the Ďvalley of isolationí, to cold self-pity. In order to keep progressing, you have to increase the heat of that passion with constant creativity. Like a marriage, this love of place. And like marriage, it requires art and imagination if it is to soar. I no longer have that land in Mexico, it slipped through my fingers like sand slips from barren shores. I canít dig my hands into her soil, or smell her sweet, fetid womb, or hear the waves from my bed, but I can keep her alive with my love through words.
My friend, Jorge, took me into the jungle with a wheelbarrow. In the remaining stumps of fallen palm trees, when theyíve been dead for a certain time, all that remains is humus, the richest soil. The tree become earth. You dig into the stump from the top and your shovel fills with it, dirt brown as coffee, alive as jungle air: a redolent mix of blood and sweat and decay and heat. You want to swim through it, to breathe it, and when you have and your sweaty limbs are streaked with dirt, and your nostrils caked with it, and your shoulders are sunburnt and blistered, you run through the waves and dive into the salty, warm ocean and float there, held by a dream that comes up through the earth and enters you, leaving you no choice but to love. And when itís time to leave this place, you carry a heart thatís broken open, and scarred hands that know dirt, fists that crave clay, and eyes that open onto the world as place, a loverís eyes. And then you write about it, not because you can, but because you have to. If you donít, the fires of longing will consume you.
* * * * * * * * *
Some place bloggers have gotten together and formed a Wiki, a what?, yes, a Wiki. Over here. We're writing today, some of us, on a collective topic.
posted by Lisa on 10:46 AM link |
George Bush as Shadow
Terry Tempest Williams, in an interview in the Eugene Weekly says that we have cannot allow the land and democracy to become separate issues.These are core issues at the heart of the land. We can't separate them but we have separated them and that's the problem. So when we talk about the Earth, the animals as one consideration Ė when you talk about issues of water and politics, every being has a right to clean water, we incorporate conversations about democracy.
She calls Bush our shadow, "arrogance, impatience, entitlement, greed capitalism; we are all complicit in that."(sic) She calls upon us all to speak with whatever voice we have. She conducts this call without righteousness and with humility and reminds us to look inside and to listen to other views.I'm interested in looking at what that shadow means. This is a time of reflection, contemplation, calming down and settling. As a writer, I'm trying to find places that test my own courage and comfort.
We are a nation at war. Can we have the courage to stay in that place of darkness and not be undone by it, not be undone by despair? I have enormous faith in the capacity to transform. This is a powerful time in the evolution of the human psyche Ė like the Renaissance and the Reformation. Look at the global response of humans to this war. That is powerful. It's never happened before.
In other news, according to the Marin Independent Journal, there have been absolutely no sightings of the black bear since last week. Either he's staying out of sight and has found alternatives to dumpster-diving, or he roamed back up to Sonoma County. I noticed that some thimbleberries are ripe, and there's a type of blackberry that's also ripe--could be he's found a big stash somewhere and he's busy trying to eat enough of those to fill his hunger. I'm keeping my eyes peeled.
posted by Lisa on 6:56 AM link |
It's a new day. I've broken through the shell of this cold that's bespelled me for a solid week. Yesterday was the breakthrough. I stayed awake all day. I'm tempted to gloat. I'm tempted to vaccuum the house, go for a long hike, swim, and do all the yardwork. But I'll try to respect the cold. I'll continue to be restful. I won't tempt it's wrath. I've heard the stories. This cold has put several people I know under for a month of 14-hour-per-night-sleeps. It knocked my dad on his keister, took out my neighbor and one of my friends.
Respectfully, then, let's just say I'm feeling a slight rise in energy. My recipe: 4 little yellow pills every 2 hours, Chinese herbs called Ganmaoling tablets, contents unknown but hand-delivered by a trusted friend with assurances that they worked for her, and the caveat that they didn't work for everybody; kuri squash soup; a slight break in the weather yesterday during which I walked meekly under partially, gratefully, blue skies and sat on a grassy rise above the beach and soaked up the blue hues on the bay's surface after a week of grey; and the arrival, after a month in media-mail-never-never-land of my beautiful copy of THE BOOK: 'The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart' a collection of some of the most relevant poetry one could want. Don't let the subtitle 'Poems for Men' scare you off. It could just as well be titled 'Poems for Humans'. The compilers, Robert Bly, Michael Meade and James Hillman were riding the crest of the 'Men's Movement' when they gathered these poems.
Here then, is one from the first chapter, 'Approach to Wildness':from
Notebook of a Return
to the Native Land
I would rediscover the secret of great communications and
great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river.
I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I wouls say tree.
I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews.
I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of
the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children
into clots into vestiges of temples into precious stones
remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not
understand me would not understand any better the roaring of a tiger.
translated by Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith
and the recipe for Kuri Squash Soup, by DeLicia:
Cook some white beans with bay leaves and sage. While they're cooking
cut up a kuri squash into manageable pieces. Saute equal parts celery
and onion, and 1/2 part carrot, and of course some garlic, salt and
pepper. Throw in the squash. After a time, add the bean juice, and a box
of organic vegetable stock (ah, these modern times). Later, add the beans.
Simmer for awhile.
posted by Lisa on 7:36 AM link |
I'm wondering about the black bear that came through here recently. Our local paper comes out only every Thursday, and the other bay area papers haven't run stories in the last few days. Where are you, black bear?
A quick search on google news was fun--turns out there other neighborhoods dealing with black bear incursions in Fort Myers, Florida, Middletown, Conneticut, Baxter County, Arkansas, and Louisiana, all within the last week. In the Conneticut story the reporter notes that reported bear sightings in the state averaged 90 between 1996 - 1998, but that last year that number rose to 600.
Have black bears become the new crow? Are they one of the "weed" species that are highly adaptable and will thrive alongside human culture as long as they aren't actively hunted out of existence? Perhaps they could be, if people weren't so
One requirement of a species that wants to thrive alongside humans is that it not scare us. Better to be small, like pigeons, or cute and seemingly harmless, like deer or feral cats. Most people love bears, as long as they stay in predictable locations for thrill sightseeing in Yosemite, on nature channels and in storyland. Who doesn't love Yogi Bear, or for that matter, the Three Bears? We even love Poppa Bear, who loses his temper, but only after his home turf is invaded by another species...and we can all relate to that.
posted by Lisa on 10:09 AM link |
While I was gone, bears returned. The first black bear on Point Reyes in 134 years was spotted at the youth hostel. Speculation is that the bear was pushed out of his territory in Occidental, which is the closest bear country. There was another sighting of a black bear by two San Francisco Zoo zooligists at Bon Tempe lake on Mt. Tamalpais, about 17 miles away, the next morning. And over the past week the bear has either been spotted or has disturbed trash containers at Green Gulch and the Zen Center near Muir Beach, in Muir Woods, and at Kirby Cove at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Various park officials believe this is all the work of one bear.
I wonder what the bear would be looking for. He should have found no signs of other bears--no male competition, and no females to mate with--but perhaps not enough forestation or sources of fish. If he stuck around for late summer surely he would be content with our berry selection. I'm certainly willing to share, and I'm sure the local consensus would be the same. But to his detriment, it looks like this bear is going for the easy stuff. He's after trash, and that will probably take him down. They're already talking about "putting him down" if he ventures into residential areas on Mt. Tam.
I think he should have stuck around Point Reyes and Inverness. Residents here would be more tolerant of a little trashing with the trade-off of having a bear amongst us. The population on Mt. Tam doesn't think of themselves as rural. One hysterical soccer mom whose home has been visited by a bear will prompt authorities to hunt the guy down--they're already calling him a 'maurader' in newspaper headlines.
How do other rural communities deal with resident bears? Surely there are ways of securing trash to divert the bear back to natural food sources. I hope we can find a way to live with him. After all, if conditions exist that drove one black bear to search for new territory, there will likely be other bears to follow. I'd like to know that we can make room for them, in fact I think it should be a priority. If not, then what's the point of preserving all of this land? Is it just so we can live near it, drive and hike through it, congratulate ourselves for being good conservators? This area teemed with black, brown and grizzly bears in the 1800's. I'm not suggesting we repopulate the grizzlies, but I think an almost harmless black bear or two could be tolerated and even welcomed.
posted by Lisa on 8:21 AM link |
Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005 Lisa Thompson. All Rights Reserved.