Friday, December 14, 2012

Witchgrass & Cottontails: Diversity in Words

Chaparral whitethorn, verbena, witchgrass, willet, winterfat, blue whale, black-necked stilt, sun-cup, toyon, surf-scoter, sycamore, chinook, rush-rose, mountain plover, saltwort, orca, oso berry, peppergrass, pika, sugar pine, evening primrose, rattlesnake, red maids, black sage, nutsedge, lark sparrow, mink, hedge-nettle, matchweed, mallow, madrone, brown pelican, marlin, lupine, alkali heath, fiddleneck, rabbitsfoot grass, marbled godwit, fulmar, dogwood, elk, house finch, bracken fern, fescue, curly dock, coffeeberry, currant, crayfish, dandelion, cow parsnip, buckeye, buttonbush, boxthorn, softshell clam, auklet, antelope, red alder, beaver, cottontail, greenbark ceanothus.

Wild bramble of some sort (?), Palomarin, gentle sweet smell.
Brown pelicans, heavenly to watch overhead
*             *                *

Words of living species that marble the landscapes of California, as found and selected from the back of Laura Cunningham's A State of Change, in no particular order besides the sound of words. Something about rolling in all those names, beautiful on the tongue and in the mind, imagined, is deeply satisfying to me, almost like walking through a riparian thicket and letting my eyes be filled with the myriad shapes, species, smells, sounds. Words & names are full of power and the essence of the thing they name; those above words (and so many more) feel sacred to me. Each one a separate species of being, to our one. When you stop to think about this, the world is almost overwhelmingly full, and the terror of  losing life-forms overwhelmingly heartbreaking. Imagine those names an incantation, an invocation.

Muir beach cliffs, bishop pine, monterey cypress
*               *               *

Saltwort, wild oat, white pelican, coho salmon, elderberry, red fir, blue grosbeak, slender hairgrass, gooseberry, goshawk, yellow-breasted chat, coyote, cobwebby thistle, cottonthorn, pelagic cormorant, tidy-tips, sooty shearwater, bigcone spruce, tarweed, spadefoot toad, pricky sow thistle, northern fur seal, willow herb, yerba santa, golden yarrow, violet, warbling vireo, vole, wild pea.

Tippy-tip of Tomales Point, tidepools, cormorants, yellow bush lupine
Cobwebby thistle
Coastal scrub, near Alamere falls, early morning, cow parsnip, coyote brush, thimbleberry


  1. those names are pure poetry! i am learning to identify wild and medicinal plants and can't wait until i can name them off like this... beautiful post!

    1. I know, I'm in love with all these words, and more so the beings they stand for. learning the names and the uses and the life-histories of all these plants & animals... one of the deepest and best joys in the world! thanks for visiting, good luck with your plant-learning. I'm trying to head that way too, have an easier time with the animals. :)

  2. Beautiful Sylvia!
    This reminded me of Loss Soup by Nick Hunt published in Dark Mountain:

    1. Wow, what an amazing piece, thank you for pointing me that way. Haunting and poetic. Thanks for stopping in. :)