I feel caught in a web, unable to post pictures or write about my experiences. When I saw this simple web this morning, I thought, why not just simply post one picture each day from one of your walks and write a minimum of a single sentence…well we’ll see…
This thin space between my window/screen and the exterior shutter is prime real estate and this morning I checked for how many bats might be sleeping in the various windows and in one I found, not 4” away from each other, a lizard and a bat…if they can get along, surely we humans can get along with each other and with the other creatures of the planet?
Then a sampling of more of the spring beauty…taking hundreds of photos right now and these are just a ‘few’, so hard to choose, so ‘many’ instead…
…pass, like the crest of a wave, so it is important to focus on really being present and taking it in deeply…everyday a new variety appears and early ones begin to fade. Most mornings I am drunk on flowers right now! Be here with ‘them’, not in my head in some conversation or imagining…no need to imagine, great beauty is right here, right here, I can touch it, I can literally breathe it!
I have a feeling that if you look from enough angles or perspectives you will find beauty in all things difficult. Take these bursage, so abundant around here. Those damn burrs get in your socks and shoes and clothes and feel like they have a thousand sharp points on each one. They get in the dog’s fur and paws, under their arms pits and in between their toes and tangle up so that you often have to just cut them out. A limping dog usually means a burr between the toes. I really have never seen a good thing about them, but with the perfectly timed rains this winter, they are covered with future burrs…but look at them… right now they are flowers that are quite beautiful and stunning.
There is this other grass that was abundant this fall and I am still finding its seed heads around the house and the f….s bury themselves in dog flesh! What possible evolutionary advantage could there be in that? They have been deep at the source of more than a dozen cysts on the dogs this winter, so I hate them. But on closer inspection they are stunningly beautiful; a structure and form that would win many a design contest.
And difficulties of life lately also must have some hidden beauty. Maybe I just need to wait for the change that difficulty brings to unfold, like the petals of a slow, slow, slow blooming flower…
Having spent the last 6 days on the south shore of Lake Michigan, I feel, now that I am back in the Desert, that I am enjoying pretending that I have been on another planet. That other planet was blinding white, frigid zero degrees (without the wind chill), flat, bare trees and gnarly forms, no vistas, noisy with trains and industry, seemingly unsurvivable. Here, green, mild, sunny, inviting, quiet, 20 mile vistas and mountains all around. Both have extreme beauty right now, only in jarring contrast to each other, hopefully training me to have broader and wider appreciation of all things. Only my phone camera…so limited photographic ability, but here are a few special scenes:
There are now 7 different types of flowers appeared to announce spring. Everyday a new one joins the party. I expect a Lupine any day because I see its leaves everywhere. They start as a miniature version of their lovely shape (pic of one smaller than a fingernail) and grow to the size of my palm. I pretend I am a cosmic giant and walking through star fields of a galaxy when I find one of those southeast facing slopes that they favor and cover.
A very unusual thing happened yesterday. When I am ‘in town’ driving and running errands I seldom see anything of beauty, mostly ugliness…but in front of me was a couple on a big ass motorcycle all in their leathers, she with foot long fringe everywhere and he with gorgeous long white hair in a braid down his back. When they were moving, her fringe flowed with utter sweetness behind and I thought they were a marvelous portrait of FREEDOM. I pulled up next to them and was trying to take a pic with my phone camera (yes, it was stupid and not safe, but I felt like I had to capture that). She was shrugging and gesturing, like- what ARE you doing?-, and all I could do was give her a ‘thumbs up’ as they speeded off. The best of the pics does not in the least bit capture what I saw, but I was very delighted to be so delighted while driving/running errands and felt this was a significant happening.
Last is my red cross made of filaree bursting to commemorate the start of lent today.
Hidden hugging the ground, a casual gaze would not have found this juicy delight. They will only look like this a few days than go to green. Storksbill Filaree (erodium cicutarium) is in the geranium family and has an added bonus of having a fragrance and edible leaves, like strong parsley. Another special feature is that the ‘beak’ spirals as it dries and that action/motion helps drive it into the soil and it plants itself, truly amazing. It is considered to be a non-native plant and thought to have come from the Old World in wheat or barley grain shipments in the 1700s.
I could not narrow down from the 80+ pictures to any more than the 8 below and am saving a special one to post on Ash Wednesday in a few days. Enjoy the lovely forms along with the juicy color and notice the spiraling seed on the forth pic.
The desert is really starting to bloom. Most flowers will be colorful and obvious, but the jojoba’s reproductive parts stay in the green range, are usually small and simple. What is most interesting though, is that they are one of the few flowering plants that have the sexes on different plants, male plants and female plants. Right now it looks as though the males outnumber the females 3 to 1, but on closer inspection, that is not true. There is more pollen spewing equipment and it is brighter colored, larger, and a more intricate design. The seed nurturing equipment is barely distinguishable from the leaves. So you notice the male plants, all bright and fuzzy, and not the females; they are there in equal number.
It makes me realize a parallel in the appearance of the global situation. The showy aggressive stuff gets all the attention, press, and coverage. We hardly ever hear about the sweetness and caring that is going on all around us every day. So it often seems to me that it is all going to crap, but it is just that there is not a balance in the news I get, it is biased to the sensational. I don’t ‘do’ facebook, but I have noticed when I look at my husband’s page, there are lots of wonderful postings and stories. So as individuals, we have to take responsibility for telling, promoting, and living the ‘compassionate’ stories to/with each other in our simple everyday lives, and just let the corporations continue to do what they are going to do, ‘make money’ at any cost…
Hoping that today you will notice more of the forms all around, both the obvious and the seemingly hidden!
and i am so, so happy…even thought it is Friday the 13th, I just stumbled upon a way to enlarge all the photos….I had tried many, many time to figure it out and it just appeared today!
It had been a rough week and even the First Flower several days ago, followed by the quick emergence of dozens and dozens of other hyacinth could not lift me above my mire. I was sitting in the yard in the lovely morning warmth and sun, trying to quiet all the conversations that were going on in my head and feeling overwhelmed. Here appears this beautiful male Costa’s Hummingbird and he hovers 2 feet from my face and I have on greys and blacks, matching my mood, so he is not attracted to any color I am displaying. He looks me over and hangs in mid-air for 4-5 incredible seconds and seems to say, “ don’t be so forlorn…look here at all the gorgeous purple jewels all over my head and neck…” and he looks me in the eye and moves his head ever so slightly back a forth to show off all those amethyst sparkles.
Yes, I had kinda noticed, through my haze, his arrival a few days ago. I am pretty sure he is the same guy who has warm weathered here the last couple years and perches in this ocotillo just off the patio and zooms round and round my two story house like a maniac making this high pitch buzz that delights the shit out of me. Can it be the same bird? I am surprised to read that hummingbirds usually live 4-5 years, despite their incredibly high metabolic rates and have been known to live 11-12 years in the wild. I am grateful for the scarlet funnels all over the yard, now that I notice, they have emerged too, aloe vera and chuparosa.
I am in deep gratitude that he has chosen to live here and has returned to brighten my life.
It has been a rough 6 months, and it is not just me, huh? A friend who is a painter said recently that she finally “had gotten her mojo back”. Well I am still looking/waiting for my mojo, but did get an inspiration on the walk this morning and thought I could get it together to write something short….
We visited this grouping of Sahuaros, an intimate cluster I call the grandmothers or the sisters. Several look as if they will not be standing much longer, one leaning, one with more than half of its roots exposed on the edge of the wash. They are all just loaded with bird houses (you can see all the holes in the sides of their loving arms here) and have probably seen thousands of eggs hatch over their probable hundred years of existence. Not to mention all the sustenance they provide to many desert creatures with their summer fruits, many truckloads over the years, and nectar to the bats from their flowers. And where-oh-where would the birds perch up high to SEE if not for them? And when they fall they will continue for years to provide for a whole other group of living organisms, the bacteria and insects that feast on the remains. Magnificent providers!
May I be as useful as a Sahuaro!
How is it that to MAKE something happen it takes lots of imagining and planning, then coordination, lots of effort and work, and the part that eludes me, a boat load of money? Perhaps I am perverted by years of being a professional planner. But not many projects/dreams seem to come to pass and of course the more money they take there is exponentially less chance that they will happen. (the same is true when it takes a bunch of people to actually AGREE to something…)
Sahuaros are like this too, it takes so much, just so, to grow one. They need the perfect conditions to germinate and that depends a lot on the undependable desert rains. Then they prefer a nurse plant to protect and shade them from harsh conditions when they are young. Then they need enough rain to actually grow. A hundred plus years later you have a mature Sahuaro with arms and a root system that has slowly and surely developed to maintain the tons of mass of this majestic cactus.
so how the hell did this ever happen???
Growing horizontally out of a solid vertical chunk of limestone, no soil for at least 8 feet, not a root in site? This toddler is a foot tall, defies gravity and is on the exposed south side of this jagged cliff.
How did it ever germinate?
How does it grow?
How did it survive when its fellows, in much more hospitable conditions, succumb?
My pessimistic, jaded self hopes for hope beyond hope, bolstered by this phenomenal creature, that SOME dreams can manifest. But maybe only very little dreams, like this Sahuaro…
Not the big dreams like:
to have the means to pay my bills,
to provide shelter, food , work and dignity for the people on the streets, in THIS country,
to build sustainable communities,
to have Peace amongst humans…
Sometimes ‘real’ life seems really unreal. When I tune into news lately, is often seems that way…
We have this new space above our house that used to be the ‘cool tower’, a big passive evaporative cooler that provided super low energy air conditioning. When remodeling it this year we were blown away by the 360 degree views 34’ up off the ground and turned it into a room. I call it the AERIE and it is living up to its name. I spend lots of time up there in contemplation…
I thought it would be appropriate in an Aerie, like some of the ancient stone structures around the world that mark special celestial events, to notice and mark the sunrise and sunset locations today, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year here on the northern half of the planet.
Just as the edge of the sun started to peak over the mountain peaks to the east I started photographing and within seconds I saw TWO SUNS rising…what the heck? Between photos I scratched my head and rubbed my eyes and I couldn’t tell what was going on or what planet I was on…just keep photographing because it only takes a minute and the entire orb is above the edge of the earth, the magic moment has passed, the light has moved through the threshold and is present for the day.
By then I couldn’t look at the double sun anymore because it was too bright and it took some time, and reviewing the photos, to figure out that I had been seeing the ‘real’ sun and additionally, a reflection of it in the double glass of the window. Even now looking at the photos, it is hard to tell which one is ‘real’…(the one on the right is ‘real’)
Being in a 10’ x 10’ room with windows all around creates an awesome and eerie effect at times…a bit like being between two mirrors facing each other, caught in a between dimension that can be odd and disorienting. What is real here? Do you feel like that some time?
Hope you have some time today to appreciate the sun and to ask …what is real…? may be…not a thing…not even the sun…?
Here is another photo to the west with the newly risen solstice sun reflecting and another set of mountains floating in the sky above the ‘real’ mountains.
In the words of the brilliant comedian Bill Hicks:
“…the world is like a ride…you think it’s real – it’s just a ride… and we can change it any time we want…don’t worry, don’t be afraid…it’s only a choice… between fear and love…”
When it gets particularly crazy I watch this enlightening video:
The last 8 weeks have been…like Bill says…
But I was finally emptying my 8 GB camera card (outrageously huge, thousands of pics) because it was full and I couldn’t take any more photos…kinda a metaphor for life right now…I found these from my NYC trip in May and they brought me some peace and I have made a little folder with them on my desktop to look at and BE with when it feels crazy, along with the above video…hope they bring some peace and calm into your life right now too.
The buddhas are from an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century
Some time you wake in the morning and you are cranky and blue, maybe you haven’t had much sleep…but the dogs will NOT allow a morning without walk, rain or shine and yesterday was rain. They started on the crest of the hill, an unusual place as they are usually in a shady cove, a feminine place. Then I remember we had a big women’s gathering in this very spot many years ago and it is full of feminine energy.
And every patch that I had been watching over the last month grew exponentially overnight…areas as big as my living room covered with their spiraling beauty, caressing every plant within range…this was abundance like I have never seen…this was beauty like I had never seen…this was joy like I had never felt. I know that this is a once in a lifetime event, that the conditions are perfect and only occur a handful of times a century. I call my neighbor and tell her she has to get out here before they close their faces in the day.
I usually don’t pick them, but there were so many that I did, and wrapped them around my neck like a lei and breathed them in and beed with them and I even took a selfie because I knew the bloom would fade quickly now…and by the time I got home and put them in water they had all retreated to get to the business of propagation.
Here is my new self-portrait, one that I will use when I am supposed to provide a picture of myself…I have for many years provided the shadow pictures that used to be and currently are the banner to this blog, because I really have been and felt like a shadow…but…maybe I am ready to show my face and maybe the morning glories will whisper how…to shine even a fraction of the joy that they bless this morning with…I am in their debt forever.
And a fat toad that played in the rain yesterday:
And a dear friend that has fallen in the last few days having drunk too much rain and gotten too top heavy. She will linger and feed the desert for a while yet, but soon her mutated beauty will fall back into the earth:
And this awesome cross in the sky the other morning:
But how would/could someone weep at the site of a few puny flowers that you can barely discern? Another lesson from morning glory…I wish you could experience this, but even if you lived in Tucson, you would have to get up and out early before the sun shines their faces shut and they curl up into oblivion. And you would have to be in one of the deep shady washes in the foothills, where these rare creatures occasionally emerge with just the right conditions…and emerge they do…vining, spiraling, caressing, hugging all the support plants around them that they decorate like heavenly Christmas trees…
Ruminating on my bad (no job, no money)/good (lots of time and freedom) luck of no ‘work’ for 6 years now…I get to FEED daily on the desert and see/be with the abysmal scarcity…and there is something to eat every day, even if what is to eat is seeming nothingness…
I was excitedly telling friends about the morning glory, my usual emoting self…and I could sense their chuckling that I THOUGHT I was seeing such awesome abundance…they live in a rainforest and the apparent life there is overwhelming! “If you can See all that in the desert, imagine what you would See in other places…”
I am deeply appreciative today of the scarcity of a desert and the opportunity to be totally immersed in it and deeply connected to it on a daily basis for many years…wow, quite a shift from whining about no work and all the seeming lack…
It is only in the contrast to the seeming lack of the desert that I could GET the abundance there/here…to weep morning after morning while the morning glories are here…it is just a small window of opportunity, 10 days in 2000 days, that they bless this place with their glory.
This helps me to BE with the global situation and the struggle and fear of several friends right now. There IS light in this darkness and perhaps the only purpose of the predominance of dark is to teach us to …See the Light…
Also deep gratitude for the followers of this blog and especially the commenters whether it be formal on the site or in conversation with you…you are my light!