field notes:

10.30.2004

We had a power outage last week that lasted about 36 hours. The storm that caused the damage woke both the dog and me. She needed comfort, so I got up and held her during the thunder, some of which rolled on for the better part of a minute. I sat on the floor in the dark house and watched the lightning flash outside these tall windows. I brought in firewood, switched to the old-style phone and called in the outage. The next day was a little forced vacation. I sat by the fire reading, then went for a canoe ride with my neighbor while we waited for the power to be restored. I kept believing the power company estimates, otherwise I would have headed out to a cafe with my laptop. But being on the water was worth having to make up my work later in the week.

That bay of ours, it provides everything I need in the way of solace and beauty. It sits so calm in the winter, icy blue. Surf scoters are back, at least a few so far, some grebes, and harbor seals were all about. We saw a large fish jump and splash, a reminder of Staffordís poem, Representing Far Away Places for me.

On the water, my neighbor told me about a study sheíd read recently. People were shown images one after another, she didnít tell me what the images were, but some were intended to induce a negative emotion and others a positive. They were flashed at regular intervals, and the person had no way of knowing empirically what would come next. But by studying the body, the designers of the study found that people indeed did know what was coming next, by more than a second. They also found that the intuition didnít originate in the mind, but in the gut, and in the heart.

Iím sad that weíve lost our intuitionĖthat scientists have to hook us up to a machine in order to find it.

We donít know when weíre being lied to. Iím practicing that listening. I want to look into the world and know the truth. I want to know, razor-sharp, when thereís danger...or promise. I want to know who to trust: who to follow, who to love and who to fear. Apparently, I do know these things, I only need to remember how to hear, and to trust the message.

posted by Lisa on 8:29 AM link |

10.14.2004

I swam on Tuesday morning. The water was arctic cold, surprising in this tropical heat. Smoke obscured the east shore, and looking towards the mouth of the bay we couldnít differentiate sky from water. Out 100 yards the water became warm. Smoke has brought beautiful sunsetsóorange evenings, reminding me of Los Angeles and the nightly show that the unpure air brings. A gift of beauty to the afflicted.

Over the weekend I was at a retreat in the mountains to the south of Santa Cruz. We rented a buddhist camp that looked out onto Monterey and a great sloping to the water. I found two chances to swim in the pool there, just at the edge of the mountain. The water was so cool that I donít think Iíll ever forget it. The moment of entry a shock and a welcome. I heard that somebody in one of the recent private space flights described the moment of descent when the gliding craft first finds atmosphere again as hearing a very loud voice. Thatís not exactly what the cool water was like, but I like remembering that description. The water was like a voice telling you your own name, not letting you forget.

Meanwhile, in Point Reyes, a shark attacked a surfer. He fought off the shark and swam or paddled back to shore and called for help. I think about sharks a lot. This Saturday I will learn to scuba dive. Iíll be in a pool in Novato, but in a few weeks Iíll be diving in Cozumel. The night after returning from the retreat I dreamt of swimming with a harbor seal.

A family that treats me as one of their own lost their youngest member this week. Her name was Liz. She was 50. Last night we gathered around a table and remembered. We read poems, passed photos, told jokes and stories, and the conversation eased from politics to joy, from grief to history to apple pie. I think Liz would have loved it. My prayers go to guiding her on her way, and to holding her family in caring arms. Lizí sister said that death feels soft and vulnerable. I wish that I could hold here in my arms and rock her like a baby.

My birthday today feels like one hue on a watercolor canvas. A gentle wash of light blue, tempered by water, brushed on lightly. A tender remembrance, a lullaby, a long underwater swim and the warmth of a clasped hand.


posted by Lisa on 8:16 AM link |

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