March 20th, 2008

point reyes is a poem

Good Morning!

CW Nevius  points out in his column in the Chronicle today that the protesters in SF yesterday did it "right."  They were organized and effective.

Check it out:

We had dinner Tuesday night at Nick's Cove in Marshall.  It is an experience I recommend.  It is built to blend in as a restaurant along the bay in the 50's and the food is magnificent and local and I am ready to drive right back out there and I won't, but I am sitting with the memories and thinking of the taste of the oysters from Tomales Bay, and their beautiful shells.  

I am surprised at how huge our house seems.   Our house is very small by today's standards, but the little teapot we stayed in, in Inverness was so tiny, that the bathroom made an airplane bathroom seem spacious, and, as I said, the shower was outside, exposed to the view and anyone that might have been wandering the marsh, which is rare indeed so all was fine, and it was like bathing like a bird.

Anyway, I did some reading out there, but mainly I sat enmeshed in the view. 

Charles Schultz wrote this:

"My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I am happy. I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?"

In West Marin, the question answers.  One is drawn outside, immersed in the tides, held there like an oyster, and there is peace.

Tiger and Bella are grateful we are back and very appreciative of the return of their staff. 

I am here and I am there.  I am still rocking to the waves as they come into and massage the beach, then, retreat, then, come again.  The tides go in and out, and the moon plays with them like a kite.

Book Cover

Little things -

Starting with Little Things
Love the earth like a mole,
fur-near. Nearsighted,
hold close the clods,
their fine-print headlines.
Pat them with soft hands --
Like spades, but pink and loving; they
break rock, nudge giants aside,
affable plow.
Fields are to touch;
each day nuzzle your way.
Tomorrow the world.

~ William Stafford ~
(The Way It Is)

Humanity -

I picked up the spring issue of the West Marin Review in Point Reyes.

Mark Dowie writes a scintillating essay called The Fiction of Wilderness.    He asks questions like what is nature and what is wild?

Native peoples felt the two as one.  We tend to separate.

Mark Dowie writes of Thoreau's astute observations, then, continues:

    "Despite that exceptional observation (Thoreau's), the idea that humanity is something apart from nature remains deeply rooted in the western mind, which also retains the doctrine that man holds dominion over all other beasts.  Taming the wild, both in nature and themselves, became a fundamental aspect of the New World's manifest destiny.  By contrast, indigenous cultures that have remain isolated from Judeo-Christian influence continue to see themselves and their cultures, as they always have, deeply embedded in nature, and nature even more deeply embedded in themselves and their cultures.  They and nature are so inseparable that if the "n" word appears in their language or their cosmology it is as a cultural concept, internalized in their very being, not some space outdoors, beyond the walls of their community.

    We Westerners still revere nature as place rather than cultural concept, a place to commune with the rest of the animal kingdom, at a safe distance, of course - a place to discover ourselves and perhaps even the meaning of life.  Bertha Petiquan, the Ojibway matriarch, would not be offended by that use of land or nature.  In fact she'd be pleased by any reverence for either.  But she would tell you that in her language the closest term to what we regard as nature would be nishnabe ak, which translates literally as "the land to which the people belong."  In the Ojibway mind and Ojibway law, it can never be the other way around."


Here is Robinson Jeffers with his view on the subject.

Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine
beauty Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. —As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

    - Robinson Jeffers

blue jellyfish

Thoreau -

We need time to rest.  The breath can pause;  the tides take moments to change.

Henry David Thoreau in Walden Pond:

"There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand.

"Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

"I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been."




ayer's rock -

William Blake -

Holy Thursday: 'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

    - William Blake

turkey vultures

V is for Vulture!

In the West Marin Review is an article on the turkey vulture, titled Lightness of Being.  It is by Jules Evens.  He writes:

"Many cultures revere vultures.  They spend so much time aloft, ranging over the landscape, looking down on us.  All things pass through the clear vision of this bird. They are the silent observers, the knowledgeable ones.  The Egyptians believed that vultures were impregnated by the wind and considered them symbolic of purification, compassion, and eternity.  Some Native American tribes considered them spirits of salvation - consuming the body and carrying it to the heavens.  And for the people of the Pueblo culture, the Turkey Vulture presides, like a priest, over the dangerous passage from the spirit world back to daily life.

In a beautiful gesture that speaks to an affinity for the earth and sky, Tibetan Buddhists take their deceased relatives to a mountain ridge and feed the flesh and bones to the Himalayan vulture, Lammergeier.  Sky burial.  

    Vultures do walk with ceremonial dignity while they
    preside over the disposition of carrion.

Hamilton Tyler, Pueblo Birds & Myths

Perhaps our cautious kinship with vultures traces back to the early Pleistocene, to the savanna and scrublands, to the thickets where our ancestors crouched, watching the sky and the plains.  Before they developed sharp-edged tools for cutting flesh, our forebears were not only hunter-gatherers, they were also scavengers who relied on vultures to find carrion and to open body cavities to provide access to the meat inside.  Some ember of that early commensal relationship seems to flicker in our chromosomal memory and inform our wonder as we watch them glide over the landscape."

"On a West Texas ranch in the winter of 191801919, ranchers suspected vultures at a large winter roost of spreading anthrax and hog cholera.  Over that single season snare traps were baited with carrion and managed to capture 3,500 vultures that were clubbed to death and their carcasses burned.  Such misguided fears were calmed by the U.S. Biological Survey, which, in 1932, proved the opposite case: that, in fact, the anthrax virus and cholera were destroyed by passing through the digestive tracts of vultures."

Perhaps, as we more clearly and openly bring forth the somewhat forbidden subjects of death and race, they too, will more easily and cleanly pass through our digestive tracts.

Open to discourse.   Transform in the soar from earth to sky.  

Book Cover

place -

I read these words and share them, hoping we each touch the place that, for us, is home.

"If you're intimate with a place,  a place with whose history you are familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows you're there.  It feels you.  You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned."

    - Barry Lopez, "A Literature of Place"

blue jellyfish

Evening -

Tonight we watched the first two episodes of the HBO series on John Adams.  They are marvelous!   When one sees how this country began, it is disappointing to see how it has been hijacked, and the series offers hope that we can return to the proper track.  It was not easy for those who created this country.  We can't let that go now. 

It seems there is a protest at Live Journal around new regulations and fees, and so some will not be posting.

I have thought about it.   A year or so ago, I decided it was right that I should pay for this service, even though I don't take advantage of or even know most of the features.   Live Journal has been offering a basic account for free.  Now, since it was sold, there is to be a fee.   Some are angry about this.   It is an odd issue, it seems to me, so I have not yet decided whether or not I will post.   I suppose I didn't understand why it was free in the first place, though I appreciated it.   What does astonish me is the angry language I see as I try and understand the issue.  Perhaps that has done more to turn me toward Live Journal than away.   Yes, it is a business.  I'm not sure why people thought otherwise, and I know young people see this differently than I.  My son feels the internet should be completely free. 

It is the beginning of spring.  My thoughts are with that.   Somehow it seems there are larger issues to me.  If I wrote this journal on paper and mailed it out, it would cost me money.   I haven't been able to find information that helps me understand why people expect it to be free.

I like to support people.  I honor strikes, so I may or may not post tomorrow.  I'll see.