Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Really...what is Life all About anyway....

Find beauty and you find joy, peace, happiness, contentment, meaning, and even matter what fires may be raging in your life..let your sight be set upon that which surpasses, that which continues and even

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Matter of Perspective

Sometimes I need to scale down the view to keep myself from over focus on things I can not change. Things that I am not at all in control of in any way shape or form. Finding amazement in that  flowers continue to grow, bees pollinate....even as helicopters dip down right in front of me to scoop a bucket of water to bring to the fire burning just a scant distance away.... this keeps me sane, even joyful. The buckets on those helicopters really do appear to be minuscule...but then look at the legs on those bees...and they keep working  whether or not  fires are flaring...however teeny their efforts might seem....they keep on...they visit blooms, take pollen, nectar...go on with the business of being alive. And so we matter what fires rage in our lives....nectar is around us....all the time....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Looking for Beauty

A compulsion to walk out to the garden and look at the orange trumpet vine in profuse bloom came to me yesterday afternoon. I picked up my camera and went to sit for a while by a large old vine at the edge of the garden. The hummingbirds were fighting over who gets to drink of her sweet nectar. I counted four and snapped photos of all of those I saw zooming in and around radiant blooms.

Joy began to creep into my heart once again. The simple (?!) act of focusing on what is good and true and beautiful shifted my vision from the smoke plumes, where the latest fire front is ravaging the forest, the engines coming and going, the terror of
back burning or back firing or firing or whatever new term is used to set the mountains on fire in an experiment to contain large scale fire events that won't be extinguished until large rain events occur....whenever this may be in a decades long  drought trend in sit, to notice, to FOCUS on beauty is a choice which brought an enormous measure of relief to my heart. This is something I CAN do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Orange Crowned Warbler

I was heading outside (so glad I grabbed the camera!) to watch the thunderheads tell stories. I heard the tap on the window and the white cat jumped off the chair at the sound. I found this little being on the deck. It let me hold it for 15 minutes, standing in my hand before hopping up onto my sleeve and then to my heart and eventually my shoulder before it flew away. What joy to have extended time to marvel at the delicacy of the eye lash feathers, the chartreuse of the body mingling into a soft milk chocolate brown. As we sat together the entire forest was alive with bird symphony. Everyone calling from raven to red wing blackbird. I love when the jays do the call that sounds like bushmen speaking. When the wind added a soft lullaby through the trees I wondered if life could be any sweeter. I watched the small head follow the song. Is it listening for it's kin? I imagined breathing all the love of the forest to this gem, wanting it to fly to whoever might be waiting for the return. I am so very grateful it did recover and fly away, leaving me with a sense of magical encounter.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Small Miracles

There are times when I feel drawn outside. When this call is followed little surprises wait. And if I grab my camera...sometimes I have the happy chance to record what is waiting.

I've been watching the side of the house for weeks now. I wash my dishes and stare out the window. Chickadees built a nest in a hole drilled by a Red Headed Woodpeckers. I've never really understood how dedicated birds are to finding and delivering food. I found a myself uttering small prayers for the life of the food gatherer. They land on the apple tree or the lilac just outside the nest, perched with the latest food find. They deliver and race out yet again.

This last week there have been many peeps form the wall as I walk by on my way to the front door. Today I felt that particular summons and went out to see a tiny head poking out of the hole. I have not seen the babies looking out before. It sat there for some time. I wondered at the miracle of the first flight. Never done before, into a world it has not seen. What inspiration! I noticed one of the parents in the apple tree for a moment. The fledgling peeped a bit, looked around, and then popped itself to the edge of the hole and flew to the rooftop before moving again to the branches of a nearby oak where it sat and peeped. A few minutes later I heard one of the parents join it in the invisible shadowy places behind foliage. I watched the wall for some time and never saw the parents return to the hole. Is it that simple? Maiden flight, off and running?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Black-headed Grosbeak Comes to Visit

Black-headed Grosbeak at Quail Meadows
This sweet visitor has been hanging around the house for several days now. His serenade is long, complex, varied and fascinating. My home is surrounded by many large oaks. This guest has gone from one tree to the next wooing my heart, if not a mate. There are far better photos of this beautiful being other places. Look here. And to hear a small sample of this vurtuoso's repertoire watch this. A small taste of Quail Meadows heaven on earth.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Apple Blossom Time

If I could just live in this fantasy world of apple blossom for a time. Instead I settle for a land based view and savor the red, green and blue medley and let it soak through my senses. The incessant vibration of pollinators adds yet another dimension of delight. Remembering Simple Pleasure.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Morning Walk

When I return from visits in to the city the forest reminds me of how vast it is. I sit in nature in the city and the presence of humans is never far away. I play with these times away and back, noticing what my relationship to nature is. Today the forest was a wild unknown place though I have walked the trails for many years now. I walked through the meadow just as the first rays of sun came through new leafing oaks and maples at the edges. I stepped just inside the edge of the forest and sat in the lush tall grasses as the dawn chorus was in full tune. I feel how much tension my body carries from my time away from this glorious land.

I let the bird song fill my body, let the tension sink in to the ground. The dogs wandered nearby, noses in the air, alert to nuance I can not detect. There is such relief in this cool mountain air, tender sweetness in the music. I can not imagine my life without a wild place to settle in to for a time. To be acquainted with a place, day after month after season after year after decades...that remains largely unchanged by any other than the life pulsing through...
this is a rare gift. This morning I notice how large the drift of wild mock orange has become, doubling in size in the many years I have come each spring to cherish their blossoming. And the wild apple tree planted by a bird or wayward core toss has grown from a maiden to a woman and she is in full glory bloom today. Her branches are brilliantly alive hosting bees of all types. I can't get enough of the subtle hues radiating in the flowers. This transient sensuous wealth stirs deep longing and invites lingering moments of savoring such extravagance. Spring is sexy.

Spring is fast, energized, tumultuous, passionate, conspicuous, beguiling, seductive  and irresistible. The forest floor is carpeted with her offerings. I have yet to visit my favorite places...orchids, wild ginger, mariposa lilies and other dear friends invite me to walk, take time to investigate and sit. And sitting now writing these words I find a few small hitchhikers have joined me. Making friends with the ticks....they have to make a living too...but perhaps on another being!

Friday, April 3, 2015

These last weeks Dandelion has been of deepest fascination. Their resilience, abundance, healing properties, tenacity, tastiness….all of this has captured me….along with their photogenic quality especially when viewed close up.

They also almost never grow alone, they are social. And now that I have encouraged them to grow in the lawn there are legions of them that delight me every spring. Last summer I stopped watering the lawn. In the wilderness where these dandelions grow the lawn has been what I’ve considered the fire safety zone around the house. So the decision to let it go brown felt edgy to me. I cut it close to the ground so truthfully there was very little organic matter to burn. The only things that remained green were chicory, rosemary and dandelion. Those tap roots must be fabulous storage tanks.

This year with the spring rains the dandelions are lush. And I am in love with them. I’ve been feeling in to the metaphor of dandelion these weeks of lent, the period of time in the catholic faith of my childhood between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The church I attend most often now is the Church of the Holy Wilderness as one brother in law calls it. So Dandelion has been giving me a series of sermons these weeks.

Today I found one dandelion riveting. The photo captures a moment when those seeds that have been growing together, gathered on their single flower journey, have become the seeds themselves about to fly off into the world. They are so spectacular together to my eye.

A woman I dearly love died just a few short days ago. She was to me like one of those dandelion seed parachutes, radiant in her expression of love. She let her seed leave the safe place of attachment to the earth, while the rest of us are as yet still becoming those seeds awaiting our own time to fly.

Dandelion tells me there is a possibility to be as love while I am still here…to open fully, to glow in beauty, to bloom wherever I am, to congregate with others, to offer nourishment, to grow my roots deep, and then let go and fly when the time is right…

Saturday, March 28, 2015


When I lived in the urban area I used to pour scalding water on these to kill them. Now they grow in giant drifts in my lawn and I find them to be the most exquisite swaths of golden and can not imagine why I ever thought to eradicate them. I use their leaves in the wild crafted salads of spring along with violet leaves, miner's lettuce, watercress, maple blossom and columbine. Did you know that every part of the dandelion is useful? And that up until the 1800's people used to pull out their lawns to make room for this luscious golden and very useful spring flower? I am ever so curious about how our thinking shifts from useful to noxious. It is a good thing to remain open and make your own inquiry when you find yourself acting and are not sure why you are doing what you do....I now celebrate these golden beauties and their moon-like seed heads instead of trying to get rid of them.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hound's Tongue Wildflower

Don't they look so much like the borage family they are a member of? There are some funny ideas about why this is named for a hound's tongue, the shape of the leaf, the idea that keeping a leaf in you shoe will prevent dog attack (really??!). I simply look for them as one of the first gifts of spring. An old friend who reliably shows up year after year. Can you see the tiny visitor on one of the flowers on the left hand side?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Wisdom in Age

It is possible to learn about history looking at the rings of a tree. The study of these rings is known as dendrochronology. It is actually possible to understand large scale climate changes with this method. I find this fascinating. Because the bristlecone pine lives for over 4,000 years and the dead trunks survive much longer, dendrochronologists have earth climate data spanning 9,000 years.

We had a small amount of thinning done for fire safety and the 8 - 10 inch diameter trees were over 70 years old. The light layers reflect spring growth, The dark layers, summer growth. The dark rings are what are counted to determine age. The wider rings show more water and cooler temperatures. We will put the trees we cut to use around the ranch, stripped of bark, as poles. Some of the small chunks will be seeded with mushroom spores as we move towards a permaculture view of the forest providing food.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Perfect Day

The rain came softly at first. As the day progressed rain came in showers. Stepping outside the air smells like beeswax. The fir trees, hundreds of years old, are in in blossom. Songbirds flit into their branches, nesting. Violets smother the ground. Their perfume transports me to innocent days of childhood play.