Peggy took this lovely picture of Mt. Tam changing colors under fast-moving clouds earlier today while she was out walking with her canine family member, the incredible Cody, who, according to some, walks on paws large enough fit for a Sasquatch. It was great to see patches of blue skies, even if only in pictures, way south from where I am, here in Vancouver, where 50 shades of grey don’t even begin to cover the many ways in which that color comes to life.
Here in Vancouver the North Shore Mountains kept themselves out with view, shrouded in layers of clouds that didn’t budge much through the day … a day that seemed very short, at least in terms of daylight hours.
Thinking of rainbows and sun might just be the way Mt. Tam cast a long shadow over my mind today. A mind that is a bit mired right now in Christmases past, not to mention the bogs of memory of a city the way it was when I used to live here, barely readable now in its reconfigured grids of streets and skyline.
Mt. Tam glimpsed by Peggy Butler from the Loch Lomond Marina
When I woke up this morning, the first thing I saw were snow-covered peaks. For a split second I thought Santa had brought a wintery touch to Mt. Tam this Christmas morning, but then I realized, I was far north from there and, in fact, staring at the more rugged, and certainly more foreboding peaks of the North Shore Mountains in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, as I watched the layer of clouds descend slowly over the slopes of Grouse, back in Marin, Peggy Butler and Cody, her dog, were braving the elements in the Loch Lomond Marina to bring you this mystic view of Mt. Tam from across the water. She had sent me a series of wonderful pictures, making the choice to post a single one truly difficult. In the end I settled for this one, because of the clouds… Especially the clouds near the mountain that seem to have gathered themselves into the shape of a woman’s profile, as if the spirit of the sleeping maiden had risen from a long dream to join us at the table to share in the bounty of this holiday season that ends with the start of a new year.
Mt. Tam glimpsed at sunrise
With the first light of our post-storm sun all sorts of things became visible and colorful again, even through the wisps of fog clinging to the soggy floor of the valley and through the columns of smoke rising from chimneys down the hill. Not that it was cold last night, but maybe someone decide to make the chute warm and toasty for Santa. Either that, or perhaps, this Californian, missing a more northern climate, decided to get a head start on the sparking Yule logs before “spare the air days” nix this tradition.
As for me, as I am writing this post, I am entering Santa’s territory, so to speak, but heading in the opposite direction. I am up in the air, some thirty thousand feet above the ground, hurtling in a plane and looking down at snowy peaks along the coast on my to Vancouver.
With a week to go on this project, I have enlisted Peggy Butler’s help to be the eyes for catching views of Mt. Tam while I am away. Can’t wait to see the pictures she will take, as she is an accomplished photographer who captures the most amazing angles and hues of the endlessly changing Marin landscapes.
Mt. Tam, unglimpsable in stormy weather
Rain. More rain. And even more wind. Trees, power lines swaying in the wind. Rain rushing up the hill in sheets, and rivulets cascading down the hill, filling gutters with leaves. It’s a winter storm, California style, all right. Got most of my electrical devices plugged in to charge, in case the power goes out.
I have to venture out later, but I doubt I’ll see the kind of panicked shopper gridlock I was privy to yesterday. I have lived in Marin a long time, but for all those years of surviving the holiday rush, I sure don’t remember such traffic before the last of the big shopping days. A shopping frenzy that seems to go counter to all the news about people not spending on account of their fears for an economic downturn. Or maybe this rush on stores around here is a specific symptom for the Marin variety of economic anxiety.
And yet, when I went to San Anselmo yesterday afternoon, I found plenty of parking places, stores nearly empty but “manned” by very friendly local owners. I don’t get it…. Apparently, neither does the better portion of Marin’s population that’s fighting it out for parking spaces in the mall parking lots and then desperately rush through the mountain of stuff that appears to give such choice of goodies at a first glance that it leaves one in a stupor … exactly where the shopper should be if these stores want to raise the bottom line on this year’s sales. Then again, I also know a number of people who have jobs just now, because it’s more than business as usual at the shopping centers. And so we ride on the merry-go-round again, as some of us feel the exhilaration of going in familiar circles while the others keep fighting the vertigo and nausea at every turn of the same old track.
Mt. Tam glimpsed in variable weather
A bit of everything earlier this morning, sun, clouds, blue skies, sheets of rain – but no lightning and thunder. That was in the middle of the night, with fierce winds and enough ruckus to scare the bark out of our dog….
Don’t know which way the day will be headed. More dark clouds, or sunshine? Rain or the newly greened world aglow in bright light?
It doesn’t matter, because having it all, as we did this morning, is enough. More than enough.
Here is a lovely post on the “afterlife” imagined, had the world ended yesterday (via Dale on Facebook)
Mt. Tam hidden in the clouds of the stormy morning of the first day of winter
Woke up in the clouds again. Not because of any miracle of rapture or other apocalyptic happening; it’s because the clouds have come down, once again, to near sea levels. Wind banged electric lines and tree branches all night, but so far, knock wood (very soggy wood) nothing has come crashing down and we still have all the lights on.
During a short break between storms so far today, I ventured out to run some errands in Corte Madera and Mill Valley. I could not have picked a worse time, even without rain. Crazy drivers, or rather, totally distracted drivers, making almost every unpredictable move on the roads. One of my errands was going to take me to a shopping center, but as soon as I got caught in the outer flow of cars lined up to fight for parking spaces, I took the first opportunity to leave the shopping center and head for local stores, where the bulk of my shopping was to be done anyway.
So, this is the season to be jolly? I don’t think I saw one single happy face today so far – well, except mine, when I got home, after I ditched my “to do” list and sat on the couch with tea and book nearby.
Looking out there at the world awash in rain and swaying in the high winds and in a misty darkness from the thick cover of clouds, it feels good to know that from here on the days will grow longer again, the light will keep on following us for the better part of the day, at least until summer, when awash in daylight we will have a hard time imagining the night coming back to collect the hours we will owe it by then.
Mt. Tam glimpsed in the morning
Winter is less than a day away. It’s set to arrive in the dead of night, so, in a way this picture of Mt. Tam, aglow in the light of morning’s sun, marks the last sunrise of a season … but not that of the world mind you, even if it happens to be the end of the Mayan calendar and there are those readying themselves for the end, as they have throughout much of humanity’s history…. There are storms in the forecast for us in Marin, ordinary winter storms, and not the apocalyptic kind, so it may well be that this picture is the last in this project with the peaks visible, but not last of the pictures.
The dawn of this storm, as the clouds are gathering this afternoon, is just as beautiful, in terms of illumination, as the sunrise was this morning. If it is the end of the world, well then, at least it’s not done with style, or rather, beauty, yet.
Mt. Tam glimpsed with clouds gathering for a storm
Mt. Tam glimpsed in the morning
Nearly the identical view as yesterday. Captured nearly at the same time as well. Today, though, there is plenty more blue sky to behold. And plenty more sunshine in which to bask, even if the air is sharp and seems like it has been sitting on ice for days.
In the afternoon, in the absence of the crows that have been hanging around, but which have vanished magically today, trilled birdsong by the window. I wish I knew what kind of bird it was. Seems to me I used to hear that particular birdsong, along with so many different others, years ago. With so many crows around here these days, even the scrub jays have moved on. Occasionally, there is still the rustle of pine siksins – or at least I assume that’s what they are when I see them flitting from tree to tree by the dozens. Though I have a field guide to local birds of every size, I am an inept birder. Can’t even tell the merlins apart from the hawks, large as they all are … and frequent visitors lately too, only to be chased off mercilessly by the belligerent resident crows.
But today, no feathered predators and no crows. Only that sweet birdsong, however brief it was….
Mt. Tam glimpsed in the light of a morning spared the rain
A break in the rain. Patches of blue skies, with a wintery light leaking through the tattered lace of clouds. I have not been much in the mood to write, managing only to describe the weather with some semblance of consistency in these posts lately. I feel the need for the sheltering space of silence, but with only 2 weeks left of this project, I will carry on and keep on trying, even if at times I will have to resort to borrowing the words of others. Like today, as I am about to share a poem by Brenda Hillman from a book of hers, which she signed for me in 1993, back when the idea of “Bright Existence,” the title of her book, illuminated new paths of poetry for me. The poem below, though, the way I read it today (which is not the same as I read it a year ago, or will, perhaps read it a year from now) makes the matter of sorrow a predicament of light.
Sorrow of Matter
by Brenda Hillman
The idea that everything is sacrificed to something.
Day after day, this being repeated.
The idea that some things are sacrificed
to vaguer forms
and your job is to keep asking where suffering comes from
while you send the children off to school–
between the cries of the hermit thrush
(the ‘pay, pay’)–
carrying their backpacks full of too much stuff
books imagined to be full of strong color, but now
pulling down to make their backs too straight.
And, never mind,
says one thing in this early migration,
the warbler in the rich person’s cypress,
never mind, say the pairs, what we create;
first there was brightness,
then it suffered;
suffering invented shape.
Remember how they taught you to stand
in front of objects? Early on,
in mild cities filled with vanilla, with extra dust,
with curvature; people
had begun to find pulsars at the edge of the universe,
drops of smooth shininess,
— like finding the seeds in an orange —
then they took you to see the huge Christ on the hill,
the god made of broken granite,
and oh how he leaned forward,
you could see it hurt him too,
to be trapped in somethigness, in those tiny mosaics with no blood,
rock eyes without eyelids
and you could offer him only your ability to change
like one of those fast terrified pigeons
that sped to his outstretched arms
and landed, flapping eternally their brief difference,
don’t makes us, lord, don’t make us be like you–
from Bright Existence (1993)
Mt. Tam glimpsed before the rain came
… and not long after the fledgling clouds drifted by the blue-peaked mountain, rain came down, hard in many places, but the trees held steady, stood unmoved as water seeped into the ground and then pooled at the roots, loosening the dark loam’s hold ….