August 9, 2001
This is our baby hummingbird that looks in the kitchen window most of the day. It is still so fluffy I cannot tell if it is a Rufus or an Anna. Because we are deep in our summer fogs, those red hot pokers have softened their colors to this coral shade.
In the evening, when I was far too tired to be sitting at the computer, Buddha insisted I type up the following for him:
Dear Mr. Midnight,
It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I know that until now we have only exchanged greetings through our persons or caretakers, but I am feeling that it is time for us to speak openly one with another. My person said your person had showed you my photo and I hope you find me pleasing and to your taste in cats. Most people compliment me first on my bright green eyes but I am most proud of the golden yellow fur on my chest and tummy. That is why, when I meet new people, I will roll on my back to show them my greatest beauty. The spots on my chest identify me as a Bengal as well as the tiger stripes on my legs (which you could see in the photo). My person thinks I am far too proud of my body and my background, but I know she is like this only because my family tree is more complete than hers is and I have eight show champions and she has only farmers as ancestors. Therefore I try to comfort her and let her know that I love her even from my greatly superior station. She seems to understand and dishes out the Friskies as if I am her world. Now I would like to be in your world, also. I know you live in the big city of London, so I am eager to learn of your life and experiences there. You must live a very different life from mine here on the coast of California. I have heard that your person, I think her name is ai li, (only of the few names a cat can speak easily! how lucky you are!), also writes haiku as does my person.
Recently I wrote a haiku for her (which was not easy as Sanskrit is my first language – not English). She was writing up her haiku from a walk she had just taken on the beach. I got the idea that she, without my great and sensitive nose, understood so very little of what is on a beach. So I took my life and my dignity in paw and climbed to the top of her bookcases. There I walked back and forth, sometimes slipping, occasionally able to knock down a volume or two, peering intently at the tops of the books. Finally she understood what I was saying and wrote down MY haiku for me:
a cat on books
the way we walk on a beach
unable to read
So Mr. Midnight, I understand your nickname is Midi, which I hope you will permit to use, I am hoping you will nudge your person into writing a letter to me. And I hope you will soon be able to call me "Bu". May you have many mousy dreams! And write back soon!!! Yours truly, Buddha
(This is the photo Buddha sent to Midnight)
August 8, 2001
I was going away on a trip for a time - long enough to demand that all my things be put into storage. For days I cleaned out, packed up and stowed away all my earthly goods. Then, without a memory of having been gone, I was pulling out all those boxes, bags and sacks to rearrange the elements of my former days. I was surprised how my things had ‘weathered’ my absence. A few things, like my rings and some tiny boxes, seemed to have a quiet glow. But the larger containers seemed to have gotten dirty and damp and were full of mouse poop, so that much of what I had tried to save was now only a bother to throw out. Still, I was not unhappy. I was eager to begin again, to take up my normal living again. I was eager to find all the things on my desk, to clean them, and arrange them again for work. I was having trouble, though, finding space for everything on my desk. The problem was my journal. It was huge; about five by six feet with the pages closed. When I opened it, the rose-gold pages formed a cascade of sparks on both sides of my hands like a large bridal bouquet that spilled out to the floor. As I walked across the stone floor of the castle toward the window where my small desk was, I wondered how I could find room on my desk for this object. As I leaned down to place it on my desk, it minimized just the way programs do on the computer as they flip down to the tray. I was so delighted with this trick that I laughed out loud.
Some people came running when they heard me, and seemed glad to have me back. They hugged me as they started asking a million questions. We were all talking at once (as women tend to do) until another woman came running into the room. She was dressed as a nun and had a very angry look on her face. I wondered if she was jealous of the warmth and companionship we were sharing. It turned out she was angry because the place was infested with some large furry rodents. She demanded that we stop whatever we doing to come help her catch them.
We hurried to the dining room where the floor seemed alive with these woodchuck or ground hog-like animals. They scurried behind chairs, under the table, and even up the walls. They were so numerous it was easy to reach down to grab one. With the animal in my hands, I did not know what to do. Another woman yelled over to me to strangle it, so I put my thumb to its throat as if I was following her instructions. When I laid the animal down, it was fine and simple waddled away. When I saw a tiny, baby animal run out from a corner and dash back away, I realized I could not kill these creatures and I did not want to be in the room where others were doing it. When no one was looking, I slipped out a door and went back to my room to wash my hands.
Rough days ahead for me. Leave taking is always so hard for me. I guess there have been so many farewells in my life, I sometimes feel I cannot get through one more. It is as if all the times I have left my kids rolls back into my life and reanimates the present time, so even though I will be saying good-bye on Saturday to Werner’s son, he suddenly becomes my son, and my daughters, all my relatives, my parents. All the various distances they have gone are added to the distance he will travel to Hamburg. It is still three days until he leaves but already he is preparing to leave within himself and I feel that as if a disaster is approaching.
Florens and Werner went to Mendocino to do the shopping for his ‘Mitbringsel’ – gifts one brings back from a journey. I had thought that with the house quiet and alone for myself, I would get a lot done, but the little hollowness I found seemed only a precursor to the absence of Florens, so I could neither enjoy the quiet nor find anything that felt as if it needed doing.
After dinner, we cleared the table and had our ‘Christmas’ by looking at what the guys had bought. It was good to see that everything they bought was something I would have picked out myself for these persons: finely crafted wooden boxes, ceramic candle holders, wooden spoons. Werner even found a great aluminum lunchbox for a new purse for me. It was exactly what I would have gotten for me if I had gone with them. The connectedness of our same feelings of admiration and appreciation was very comforting. We talked the darkness in out of the foggy night. We became quieter and our voices floated up so softly that the air in the room held us with great tenderness around one small candle.
by a departing light
I felt a funeral in my brain
my maker let me be
as a summer with two beginnings
snow beneath a creeping softness
August 7, 2001
Make room for the soapbox. Mama is mad. Hold on to your hats as you nod yes in agreement with me. Here is the story:
Over a year ago I bought the Rocket e-book Pro for $275. One of my reasons for shelling out that much money for something I did not know whether I would like or even use, was the idea that I could download books for free from the Rocket Library. I was so thrilled to have available to me books which are now out of print – books which I otherwise would never have the opportunity (probably) to read. I am allergic to molds so just the thought of an old book open before my nose makes me itch and cough. But here, from the online library I could get books which did not smell, which were clean and fresh – just waiting for me to dig into them. I had bought the Pro version so I could get 35 – 40 books with one download. Yes, it was a small process, but I was able to do it. I just assigned one afternoon once a month ‘to go to the library’. The e-book needed to have its batteries recharged about once a week, so Monday was the day I put it into its cradle for enough juice for the next week of reading. I loved my e-book. I read it nearly every day. I loved the adjustable backlight so I could read on through the evening. I loved having the dictionary right there inside; especially when I read the older authors who really used the English language. I read books from my childhood: all the Gene Stratton-Porter Limberlost stories, Louisa May Alcott (her book The Face Behind the Mask should be read by all girls right after reading Little Women) , Charles Dickinson until his preaching got to me, all the Joseph Conrad books, Robert Louis Stevenson (even his letters which I did not know were available), Lorna Doon (which is better written than I would have noticed as a young girl eager for the guy to get the girl) and so many more – even the poetry of Sarah Teasdale. It was here I discovered Charlotte Perkins and Herland (which I loved and thought very valuable so I then bought all her books which had been reissued). I read Flatland again, even with the drawings. I saw so much potential in this idea. It was like having the biggest library in the world in my back room. And no dusting or mice-chasing! Every month when I downloaded my pile of books I felt so rich! And what a great way for poets to distribute their work without the costs of printing, shipping and handling! Perfect. The potential was so astounding.
I had heard in January that the company had been sold and recently I noticed that the newsletter from Rocket had changed to Gemstar, but this was all rather meaningless to me as I continued to plow through my riches. Then yesterday I buzzed to Rocket Library to load up again. To my shock and deep grief I found out the new owners had closed it down. There was some short statement about their problems with copyrights so they had closed the whole library. I know many persons had spent long hours preparing books, scanning them in and putting them into .html and had given their efforts for nothing, just to give their favorite authors to others who might enjoy the books. I liked the way NuvoMedia people had featured the names of persons who had contributed to the sharing of each book. It felt like a community of readers and gave an automatic reference if someone was posting copyrighted material. When one thinks of the mass of reading material that is out of copyright, out of print, who would go to that trouble to give away a book still available on paper? I suspected a ploy because instead of the library Gemstar only offered me books which I would buy. That is okay. I do not mind spending money for books I want and I do buy between 2 – 10 books a month from Amazon.com. But the books they offered were contemporary ‘trash’ books – love and mystery stories. Well, that is okay. It can be these are the books that people want to read, but I do not to spend my time nor my money for these. There are only two living authors whose light-reading books I will buy (Judith Krantz and Roselind Pitchard [who may have now died]). Still, I looked at the prices the different publishing houses were offering their e-book version. Many of them demanded the same price for an e-book version as for a paper edition. This is downright nonsense. Everyone knows the largest cost in making a book is paying the printer, storing books and shipping. With these money-hogs out of the picture, there is only the cost of paying the author (8 – 10% of per book cost), paying the cost of putting the document into .html or .XML on a server (perhaps 1% per book, but surely less –depending on the number of copies sold and paying the publisher. There is no way that anyone in their right mind would pay these much-too high prices. A few publishers did offer a 15% discount off the paper book price. But this is still too high. As a publisher I know that one has to set the retail book price at three times the book costs.
I suspect that booksellers, printers and publishers are bonding together to strangle the e-book to keep money flowing in over the paper (tree-eating) industry.
But we do not need to accept this. The Napster Industry has shown us a way to distribute what we want without filling pockets which have not earned our money. I do believe that any book that is now in print should be bought in the paper version. I, as a paid author, do want authors to be paid for their work. And if a publisher wishes to print books, they can and will as there will always be (thank goodness) a certain market of persons who love the feel of books, wish to read ‘real’ books.
But there are many books which are no longer in print. It is these books which I wish to see made available to e-books. What a richness there is out there just waiting for new enjoyment. In the same way that Napster people put together collections of their favorite music, think of book lovers assembling their reads, and sharing them among each other!
I know there are many books already readable online (the University of Virginia has a large collection) I have read some of their books, but I hate sitting at my computer reading when I could lie down and have the book in the palm of my hand. I have printed them out just to be able to rest my eyes on some paper.
I am not computer literate enough to know how to transfer such online books down into my e-book but surely there is some guru out there who could make available a program that allowed even the newest newbie to put any online document into an e-book. I see Adobe is already offering free classes on "network publishing" with instruction for using their Adobe FrameMaker. Is this what I need? What I need is a community of readers who refuse to allow our online libraries to be closed, who will share out-of-print books among themselves in the same way friends pass a good book from hand to hand when it can no longer be purchased. Tell me I am not alone!
August 6, 2001
I had visited this man before at his house. Then he had given me starts and clippings for many of the planets (I meant to type plants) around his house. Mine were growing fine and I was well-pleased with their progress, but now seeing his older, more established plants I realized how magnificent they were in relation to mine and saw what I could look forward to having. I took hope that with a bit more time, mine would be as impressive as his were. We sat on the tile floor of his all glass room looking at the plants inside and outside. He asked me how each of them were growing, how tall they were, if they were happy in the soil and place where I had set them. Our exchange was as if we were two parents discussing our children experiences at camp. It was a comfortable talk comparing advances and getting advice. I was very happy and comfortable here in the warm glow of his affection.
Then he said he wanted to attend a service at a shrine and invited me to attend with him. I was hesitant to go into a group of people I did not know. I knew I could not cling to him there nor enjoy his complete attention – something I valued greatly. He laughed at my fears, and took me by hand saying I would enjoy the experience. So I brushed aside my misgivings to follow him.
Already at the doorway to the shrine I regretted my decision to come here. He went before me, easily climbing upward on the rope ladder and disappearing in a red hole in the mud wall. I did not want to follow him but people behind me were pressing me forward. There was no space behind me to turn around and to retreat. I was forced, I thought, to grab the ladder which I did using only one hand. Naturally it twisted and flipped upward so there was no way I could reach the steps to put my feet on it. The press from behind me seemed to flatten me against the ladder so I was finally able to get both feet on one of the rungs. Barely satisfied with this success, I looked and saw that at the top there were no more rungs, just ropes and yet I had to navigate through the red hole. Hand over hand I climbed the bare rope with my eyes squeezed tight in fear as were my fists. As I began to slide on some slipperiness, I realized I was having my old birth trauma dream and I would make it through it.
With the mail came a packet of the magazine Perspective, an organ of the Reformed Church. Francis Fike edits a poetry feature in it and we had been corresponding about Marchiene Vroon Rienstra’s book, The Swallow’s Nest, in which she had rewritten the Psalms to make them more gender neutral. Since the book is no longer in print, I could not see how she had handled the ‘problem’ of the patriarchy of the Psalms. Still I was interested in seeing, then, her philosophy to see if there was a common ground on which we could meet. From reading her article I could see that we agreed fairly easily on the matter of needing to give our idea of God a neutral gender – which seems easy to do. This I say as a woman; it may be much harder for a man to accept the melody of remembered verses of the male god being changed into a ‘it’. When I finished the article "Feasting At God’s Banquet Table" I was already planning my letter to her.
Then, because I cannot stop reading anything I read all the rest of the articles. I say ‘read’ but some of those pieces, with phrases "God says in the Bible" or "God tells us according to the gospel of . . . " made my eyes skim over the lines ever faster. I had forgotten how literally people in the Mid-West USA take the Bible. I guess I have lived on the edge of the land too long, am pressed so close to the sea that my ideas of god have changed so drastically that my perspective stands about 90 degrees from those of the authors in this magazine.
My vision is that I see that all the world is filled with a god-spirit. Some things and some places have thicker portions or an acumination of spirit but there is no where that god is not. It is an act of faith to ‘see’ god, or to hear god. One cannot simply read what someone else has written to ‘to know the mind god’. This comes with experiences in which we use our senses. Each of us have varying abilities to use our senses to detect this something so big and great that our minds cannot comprehend even a portion of it. Because some persons find nothing at all in a thing or a place or person, does not mean that ‘nothing’ is there. And when some one experiences a manifestation of a higher entity does not mean that it has been ‘made up’. So if we can agree that god is everywhere and with our abilities we can sense this Presence, can we also agree that ‘god speaks’ with and from everything? Can we not also say that this god presence or Divine speaks to us and through us whenever we speak or write? The thoughts and ideas come not from us, but only through us. When we speak, it is the Divine using our lips, our vocal chords, our hands move to press out the letters that make up the sense. So can one not say writing is also the Divine manifesting itself into words? Seen this way, all writing is a holy act.
It is only the fact that men of a religious organization have agreed to say certain writings are ‘holy’ and others are not. Moses and Mohammed and all the saints of all religions gave us their holy words. But it has been groups of men who have said some words or writings are more holy than others. They give the idea that what one person has written is closer to the ‘mind of god’ than what others have written. How can one say this? I know it is a popular idea that all members of a group have a common opinion on what and how to worship. But isn’t this too idealistic? Isn’t the truth closer to the idea that each person must find a personal way to believe whatever fits best to that person’s idea of the world? Even in the strictest religious groups, there are variations in beliefs and ideas. Why can people not tolerate the widest possible band of ideas about any one thing. No one has to be right, and I do not believe that any one person or group, no matter how enlightened or saintly, knows the complete truth of the mysteries of the Divine. How much richer our lives are when we allow the whole spectrum of beliefs to exist. The rub comes when persons believe what they believe is what everyone must believe – and I hang myself on my own petard! Think of all the religious arguments I would deny us to engage in! To close, here is one of my rewrites of a Psalm that fits to my dream:
I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to a sacred place."
Now our feet stand bare
at the gate of the Divine.
The place is as powerful as a city
that is at unity within itself.
Here the tribes have come seeking the Divine;
here they assembled in the Presence of the All.
Here are the gates to the Most Holy;
here are the thrones of the Beloved.
Pray for the peace for all peoples;
may all prosper within this love.
Peace be within your walls;
quietness within your towers.
For my brethren and companion's sake;
I pray for their prosperity with joy.
Here in the house of the Beloved Divine
I will seek only for the Highest Good for all.
August 5, 2001
I was awakened by stars. Well, actually it was the astounding configuration of planets that flipped my eyelids up in amazement to a dark sky. My first feeling was that someone was looking in my bedroom window. Straight out the eastern window, at the level of my pillow were two bright objects in the starless morning sky. They were far too close together to be The Twins and I know they go by me when the sky is very black as they chase the Pleiades to the south. As the brilliance of these two stars, alone in the sky, radiated my thoughts I realized that the one was Venus, the morning star with one of her consort planets. Never had I seen them so close and so level with the horizon. Again and again as I told myself what these bright lights were, the feeling persisted that I was staring into eyes from deep space. It seemed that as well I could see them, something could also see me in perfect perspective. With eyes aligned as if for human seeing, this being could observe me from a human viewpoint; could see me for what I really am.
Not only could I be seen from the east, but the full setting moon illuminated my dark side so that nothing was hidden, nothing was disguised. The longer I thought about the possibility of this being staring at me, the more comfortable I felt about letting it observe me. Suddenly there was a switch, a rapid back and forth movement as one’s head makes watching a tennis match, and I was outside looking in. The two planets became my eyes watching myself lying in my bed. There laid this transparent blob that glowed faintly. It was like seeing a backlit jellyfish. Some parts or patterns were darker than the surrounding masses. Even as I looked I knew that if I had had better training I would know what I was seeing and know what to look for. As it was, I could only vaguely admire the pulsing neon colors. I felt I was reading a language I had forgotten. Some things seemed familiar but I had no words for them, no names, no opinions of whether they were good or bad. Everything was just mine as it is. In a comforting glow of acceptance I slowly floated back into my body to look back out of my own eye sockets just long enough to go back to sleep.
in the summer dark
how to bear the burden
love sets on my back
In the morning I looked up the Four Mile Skylab and found out Venus’s companion was Jupiter. If I am going to have two planets watching me sleep, I feel best about these two. Saturn makes me nervous as I would before someone with an iron will. Mercury speaks to me of war, of aggression, of energy on the rampage – not something I want to sleep beside. But to have Jupiter, the planet of abundance, and Venus, the planet that remembers love, this seemed a perfect combination. And that is exactly what I felt in the morning – an abundance of love for myself. This is not a feeling I usually have about myself, so the configuration of stars and my feelings was even more special. I suppose some of you are sneering because of my feelings and meanings about something so far away that is only rock and ripples is rather far-fetched. But it is exactly that – some thing I have fetched from afar that is meaningful to me.
the dim fires
of a summer night
at the shrine
I say something about
the sun's sanctuary of a day
August 4, 2001
How responsible I feel for the weather when we have guests. When the morning came covered with heavy leaden skies, and an oppressive atmosphere, I found myself saying, "it might just rain" when I well knew that it never rains in August here. Yet the light, the sea and the calm wind all seemed to be holding their breath waiting on the first drops to fall. And I believed them.
Then greater was the surprise and delight when the morning opened itself to blue skies, full sun and very gentle breezes. The sea held its calm all day until late in the afternoon when enough wind came to dapple the surface into sun coins that flashed and sparkled. The rooms accepted this as glitter spattered on the walls and ceilings.
all the yellow has gone
back to the sun
As much as I love the foggy days with their quiet, the sunny days, full of fun and happiness are also received with gladness. Especially when one travels, as we did to go to the grocery store in Manchester, the sun seems to open up the roadway. One is introduced to the oncoming world with open arms, with a welcome and a shout of gladness from every surface be it grass, cows, barns or peoples’ faces.
the sea's sun sparkles
In the evening we went to Mote Creek for the high low tide. The pile of rocks over the spirit ship is even higher but the ends sticking out are more exposed. It is as if the configuration of the ship is now holding, gathering and piling the stones upon itself like a burial mound. The sea shows its might by raking away at the edges. I cannot figure out how it can have three ends but they do form a nearly perfect triangle.
There was only one surfer still trying to coax a ride out of the ever-flatter waves. On shore was his buddy playing a fairly new guitar. As I walked toward the boat ground I scanned him to see if he might join me but quickly saw that I would embarrass him. So I proceeded as if he was not there and this seemed to suit him perfectly.
I made my prayers of invocation and offering. When I played my flute I could hear him strumming along behind me and this felt very good. I had a moment when I wondered if I should try to photograph the boat (it is not very photogenic anymore). As I sat on a log asking if I ‘needed’ to take a photograph, I got a clear message-idea that, "this is the way we teach you. You take a photograph so later you can see what we are trying to tell you." Immediately I knew this was accurate, so I walked around the mound taking photographs whenever my interest was arrested. And here was my gift!
After my prayers of thanksgiving I walked back off the beach. I passed quite close the guitar player and thanked him for joining in on the song for the ancestors. "Whatever." he shyly replied. Werner and Florens were sitting on driftwood farther down the south beach so I walked over to sit with them.
We watched the surfer come ashore, a couple obviously from the city, he was wearing a silk dinner jacket, take a short walk separately down the beach and soon the sun was slipping behind the western cliff. Florens walked down to speak to the waters and we stood facing the sunlight as it crept up our bodies. For me, this was too much like death so I walked into the shadow with all the strength and confidence that I could muster instead of just waiting for it to come to get me.
August 3, 2001
guest I am to have
the height in heaven comforts not
to live may be a bliss
thoughts don’t get their words every day
mine are by the right of the white election
Silence. I have forgotten how large and how necessary this nothingness is in my day. I have accepted, too easily, this comfortable room of silence, in which I work, simply by remaining upright and alert while I am there. How few words it takes to break down its walls, sweep it away as if it never existed. Sometimes it implodes – falling down about my ears to land on my neck - that place that pains so easily. Other times it explodes – flying into a zillion pieces which float then around me like a dust that I feel compelled to gather up into neat piles with my fingerprints pressed into them. When my silence is gone it recedes into an arena, a sandy, gritty place of, if not non-existence, then of so changed a face that it is unrecognizable, useless and foreign. It is gone in the way we lose things on the beach. Keys bury themselves under stones, feelings slide down the tiny dunes of footprints to be obliterated with them. Even the wind, when it is strong enough to make a sound, can move across my life, back and forth as a giant eraser rubbing out myself and my thoughts.
But when my silence is all around me, I shore up its walls with ideas and paint its walls with the colors of words. When I save these words, then the silence is manifested with the very things that destroy it. In some ways silence is like lust. That which satisfies the longing, is what, in the end, that swallows up the lust leaving one with nothing.
When I have silence, I feel I can pick apart its places, so I can dig down into myself, into that silence, to find what truly lives below the hum of life and living. Maybe the silence is an empty room that I decorate with my thoughts. No it is more than that. It is a tube I travel that leads me to other places, other times, even other sets of feelings. The tube of silence pushes back the normal reality of the world, makes a crack through which I can enter the unknown realms. It seems the person, known as myself that I meet there, is a finer, gentler, kinder, wiser one. The deepest wish is to bring this being back with me, but she slips away to hide at the mere mention of a word or sound.
I know that I am me even in the midst of words – mine and those of others, but a certain part of me is hidden when I am in the words spoken out loud. Sometimes, when I am engaged in words with others, I wonder who I am. Who is this person speaking with my mouth? Saying these words that normally would not come across my lips. It is bad enough to have to hear myself saying things in the company of others. Even worse is to be alone and have to listen, again and again to myself saying those things, which now out of context, seem bald, harsh, angular, pitted, crumbly, waste, compost.
reason of earth is short
most she touched me by her muteness
no mountains hinder me
escaping backward to perceive depth
convey the subjects to the quick hole
When I carry past conversations into my silence its presence refuses to ‘take’ to come, to manifest as a space that I know and love. This space of silence seems to demand, not only a silence from the world around me, but also a silence from within. Only when I find that kernel, that small skull from the bloom of other silences, can it grow into an acreage that surrounds me with its blessed goodness.
When I with others I see my silence as containing only that which is good, that which I desire. But the truth is, when I obtain the perfection of silence around me, when I am totally alone, I began to bob and sag like a paper boat adrift in water that oozes in threatening to sink me, dissolve me, obliterate whatever I think I am. Then I scramble to build a lifeboat of phrases to hold me safe above the dissolution of waves of silence. These winkled up rafts shaped like poems, are what I give others in mute evidence that I have mined deep, have not disintegrated but have come back with prizes and blessings.
one year ago
speech was a prank of parliament
where the strangers in a foreign world
allow time’s wily charger will not wait
August 2, 2001
Ah, we are into the abundance of August. The fields of sea kelp are growing thicker every hour. Their size has now, this week, called the snowy egrets (egretta thule). They only come when the mats of sea weed are thick enough to support the weight of a two-foot tall white bird. Out of nowhere they are suddenly in the sunrise light on the sea. In the mornings when the seas are still calm we can see the 12 – 18 birds standing on the waving islands of bronze brown-green as they pick at the wealth of the inhabitants for breakfast. Later when the sea winds began to pick up and the white caps form on the sea, the flock, one by one will leave their island diners, fly to certain trees in the bays, where they congregate as if of one mind. As each new arrival must find a place, not taken by another, and in the correct pecking order, there is a continual jousting and jostling until they all can settle down for a quiet nap of digestion in the sun. Occasionally one of the birds will land on the solid soil of the headlands and one can see how silky their long white feathers are, how their bodies are related to the herons, how necessary it is to have a long neck if you also have long legs and the wisdom of their black eyes.
Now the mats have become so extensive that I noticed today that the water between them and between them and the shore shows far less movement and the measure of seas – the white caps. As they grow outward they are creating their own environment of peace and quiet in the midst of the strongest summer winds. In spite of losing tons of leaves and stems to these winds (which pile up on the sandy beaches into fly-ridden piles of rotting vegetation), they grow faster than they can give away their green.
Around the second week of December, the lack of sunshine will have caused the mats to be so diminished that the snowy egrets will leave us for warmer sites. With a storm or two of winter violence, the huge floating fields will disappear until the next summer.
of floating islands
In our yard we have the humongous hum of hummingbirds. The three giant clumps of red hot pokers (knifphofia uvaria) are at their best now. It sounds as if they are growing to the sound of clicking that comes out of thin air. It took me awhile to realize that the sound was from a bird because it sounds more like a cricket or grasshopper. It seems that the hummingbirds are calling up the sweetness of their red-orange straws. There are at least 20 birds around the place now. They each stake out their own territory by alighting on the highest blossom of a patch and defend it with a vengeance that seems out of proportion to their size. All afternoon our view is whizzed by their iridescence as they buzz from clump to clump trying to steal a sip of nectar from a neighbor’s patch of flowers. The little baby hummingbird I saw last week now has its iridescent feathers. I can tell which one he is because he still sits on his favorite flower even though it has now withered and is only a bald brown stalk. The top of it is shiny from the rubbings of his tiny feet.
part of the flower
While we on our walk the mother doe crossed the road to return to her twins who were hiding in the shadows. Then she companionably walked parallel to the road, only about 25 feet into the shade of the trees, as if she wanted to join us, to show off the kids, so we could see how their spots are beginning to fade, and how proudly they walk over the forest duff. When she got to the creek she turned deeper into the woods where the puddles of water, all the flow the stream now has, are deeper.
Tomorrow Florens comes, the new bedspread looks great, I actually had one of Heidi’s photos already framed that was perfect with it. I feel so rich!
Copyright ©Jane Reichhold 2001
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July 31 - 26, 2001
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