Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Orange Poppy-Heart of Everyday

Columbine, Marin Headlands
I have been a bit scarce around here these last two weeks, because we have been moving house to a lovely little cabin in the Douglas firs of West Marin, with wild roses all over the hills out back, ferns, hazels and bigleaf maples abounding, and fires in the woodstove every night. Out the windows the world is green.

In the middle of all that I spent a long weekend in the sage scrub pinyon-juniper desert east of Santa Barbara, tracking deer through the thickets and falling in love with the silhouettes of candlestick yuccas high up on the bare orange ridge-tops. I will have photos of all of this soon to share; as soon as I retrieve my camera cord from its hiding place, as we are not totally all the way moved yet, and there are boxes between here and there that still need to be ferried over the roads, down the hill, into this green valley and up into the firs.

Douglas iris, Marin Headlands
Since my birthday a few weeks back, which my love and I celebrated by spending the night and day out in the beautiful coastal scrub and wide valleys of the Marin Headlands, under a tree he has been visiting for a decade, I made a resolution about being present in the wild beauty of the everyday. I know, it is not a very inventive resolution, but perhaps it feels so familiar because it is so very important, and also so very hard.

Here are a few photos from that lovely, peaceful jaunt. Nothing like a night on a bed of soft leaves and a morning waking up to thick fog and hermit thrush song to thrust you fully, beautifully, joyously, into the miraculous present. And, of course, one's mother (and the mothers of one's love and the mother of one's dear old friend, along with a beautiful friend who is not, as of yet, a mother) at the other end of a windswept hike with tea and cake and clotted cream.

Our cosy bed of grass and fallen leaves, safe like two foxes in a den.

The late afternoon view from the "Front Porch."

My beautiful mother in a grassy meadow, bearing tea, lemon-masa rosemary cake, cream, jam.

Steeped in fog and early spring-ish sun, the love of one's loved ones and the fullness of the wild land: a perfect way to start the next journey around our big star.

Lately I have been rising each morning and, before anything else, definitely before touching the white box of my computer, I have been lighting a candle, pulling out a book of poetry, and reading a poem for the morning out on the back steps as the robins sing and the wind moves the leaves.  I have been letting these poems, and that flickering flame, fill me up. Then I go off into the day. It is amazing how this resets your brain, how it provides a lodestone through the hours to touch now and then, and be full again of that wild peace.

So I thought perhaps I could every now and then share my morning poem with you, share a little bit of this journey that we are all on toward rootedness, like the Douglas firs, those noble lords and ladies who now reach their arms above my hearth, my home, who move in all the winds, who hold in their trunks great spires of light.

Mary Oliver

In the afternoon I watched
the she-bear; she was looking
for the secret bin of sweetness—
honey, that the bees store
in the trees' soft caves.
Black block of gloom, she climbed down
tree after tree and shuffled on
through the woods. And then
she found it! The honey-house deep as
heartwood, and dipped into it
among the swarming bees—honey and comb
she lipped and tongued and scooped out
in her black nails until

maybe she grew full, or sleepy, or maybe
a little drunk, and sticky
down the rugs of her arms,
and began to hum and sway.
I saw her let go of the branches,
I saw her lift her honeyed muzzle
into the leaves, and her thick arms,
as though she would fly—
an enormous bee
all sweetness and wings—
down into the meadows, the perfection
of honeysuckle and roses and clover—
to float and sleep in the sheer nets
swaying from flower to flower
day after shining day.

May we all keep in our hearts the beautiful wild orange poppy heart of the everyday miracles: tea at sunrise, robin-song, new flowers, new rains, a chipmunk on the path, dinner and candles and wine with aunts, grandparents, parents, siblings, the kiss of one's love, stories told on long walks, bees, firelight.


  1. What a lovely post, your special tree makes an ideal spot to spend the night.