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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, December 21, 2012

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. Tamalpais, December 20, 2012

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. Tamalpais, December 20, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed with clouds gathering for a storm

Mt. Tamalpais, December 19, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the path along Corte Madera Creek, Greenbrae

It was a gorgeous afternoon by the Corte Madera Creek. A lot of people of all ages, and ambulatory abilities, and many more dogs, were all out there trying to soak up the brilliant sunshine that came to us today seemingly unfiltered and with such grace and gentleness, even as the temperature wielded a cutting edge in the shadier spots.

On a day like this, during winter’s miserly ways with light, and in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy that left so many of us numb and wordless, the sight of the same people on the sunlit path, the same mischievous dogs nipping at ankles, and some of the same walkers still oblivious to all around them as they talk and text on their phones, was more than a welcome sight for me. I felt as if I wanted to hug each and everyone of them and thank them for their presence.

As I walked and said hello to the many people I now know from sight, but still not by name, I thought about the small changes my friends and I are trying to make so that we can move not just ourselves from this place of helplessness, but perhaps nudge the tide of darkness so that love and light can get through, even if only one trickling good deed at a time for now.

Sally Kuhlman of Sally Around the Bay wrote about “paying it forward 27+ times,” because, as she points out, sharing one’s opinion is not necessarily a way to improve the situation.  Tamara Holland, another Marin blogger and artist, and post-conviction death penalty lawyer, wrote a post in which she questions the notion of divine underpinning in human affairs and urges for more love and collaboration as the truly human, and “grownup” way, to move forward and make the world a better place.

Indeed, personal opinions or speculations about divine purposes may make us feel better temporarily, but, by themselves, they do not make for a better world. So I urge you to follow whatever plan you can make to pay it forward, to exercise kindness in whatever way you can.  Check out the hashtags #20acts, #26acts, #27acts on Twitter to see how others are bringing acts of kindness to brighten to world again.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 18, 2012

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. Tamalpais, December 17, 2012

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. Tamalpais, December 16, 2012

Mt. Tam, impossible to glimpse again, obscured by clouds and rain

We are still living in the clouds these days. The clouds that have hugged the earth so fiercely that they have obscured the mountain. A couple of nights ago, the moon shone brightly, its silvered sliver crescent like a door left ajar, spilling a small amount of light from a place where darkness is unfathomable.

Though it’s still fall, winter is certainly upon us. Here, where I live, this means a verdant ground, new shoots from earth and trees abound … all under the waterlogged layers of clouds that flatten the skies and keep the light as if in store for another day, even as we go hungry for it.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 15, 2012

Mt. Tam, invisible behind clouds and rain

Rain…. I have no poetry for it today. It’s just rain, plain old rain out there, cold, miserable, bone-soaking rain. And grey skies, thick clouds, flat light. Later there will be a little more edge to the light … artificial light, but plenty of it, at a party. Warmth — of light, of candles, of people … all to keep the winter at bay, for a little longer.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 14, 2012

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 ….

Mt. Tamalapais, December 13, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed int he full light of morning

There were only three tiny puffs of clouds on the horizon this morning, but they managed to cast large shadows over the ridges. It’s been that kind of a day: looking up and seeing only those wisps, even the sky didn’t seem to pose much of a limit; but with the gaze shifted unto solid ground, it was easy to get marooned in the wide and seemingly deep patches of darkness.

Mt. Tamalpais, December 12, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from Bon Air Rd. in Greenbrae around the time of a king tide

On my way back from yoga class, I stopped along Bon Air Road in Greenbrae to try and capture an image of Mt. Tam with this year’s huge king tides as its base. All over Marin where tides reach, they outdid themselves, spilling inland not just by slow inch but also fast feet. The water in the picture is not the widened creek; it is the marshland turned lake. The creek’s wide flow is beyond the berm that’s visible past the wooden bridge to which the road lies mostly under water.

I went to yoga class this morning because a friend told me this would be a special class, what with the date being 12/12/12. I’ve been to many, many yoga classes in my life, some on other special dates and days, so I wasn’t expecting much, except, well, a yoga class… And nothing much out of the ordinary came for me from the special class, at least not during the time I spent going in and out of the poses I haven’t practiced in a long time, including a delightfully effortless headstand. But after the class, and after I walked around the flooded paths by Bon Air, I had a little “king” tide of my own, with a flooding of emotions, suddenly and is if out of nowhere.

And though I thought about going for a fast bike ride, seeing how the sun kept hanging around today, with that yoga-driven flood of emotions, I remembered, with deepening gratitude, all the ways in which yoga anchored me, even as it set me free to go with the flow….