Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Notice of Transfer


Why is it so hard to say goodbye to old cars, even when one is entirely uninterested in cars at large and all matters automobiliac?  I've donated my 28-year-old Camry to the San Francisco Opera, which seems a fitting end for it, and something my parents—whose car it was for much of the 28 years—would have gotten a kick out of.  (I'm thinking it might well turn up as a prop in one of the ubiquitous post-apocalyptic productions!) 

The tow truck picked it up just now.  We took it for one last drive this morning, down to the ocean front, and while parked there we saw a whale—and later three or four dolphins.  I love seeing the many moods of the ocean; today's was sparkly, with a lone paddleboarder tiny and insignificant against the vast shimmering light.  All symbols of parting or something, of life carrying on.

The Camry became one of those legendary cars driven only on Sundays by a little old lady, to church—but in my mother's case, to the casino.  The Camel Rock Casino out by the Tesuque Pueblo in that high desert country.

I drove the car reluctantly in Santa Fe, because it seemed to take up more room than legitimate on the narrowest roads.  I know we bundled piñon logs into the trunk one Christmas, having driven up the road of artists, Canyon Road, to the woodyard of Jesus Rios, snowflakes in the air but not yet feathering up on the ground.  We drove to Bandelier often, with all kinds of good things for picnics by little Bean Creek, and she would sit with her thermos of coffee while I walked up the path soft with fallen evergreen needles to climb cottonwood ladders up the cliffs to the Ceremonial Cave, sometimes with thunderclouds bruising the canyon.  I drove it out to Tsankawi the afternoon of many New Year's Eves, the last day of the year, to again climb to Anasazi caves, smelling the juniper and pungent berries on my fingers after, going home to sit by a piñon fire.

And when my mother died we packed it with the last of the Heritage books (Dumas and Henry James, Kenilworth, The Woman in White), and the big round cottonwood drum that years of martini glasses sat on, on careful coasters, while dinner was readying, and drove it back to northern California through Flagstaff, Las Vegas, a couple of California missions, Gilroy.

This morning I remembered at the last minute to take the three-stranded car charm she'd hung from the visor, hoping its blessings haven't worn out like the long-faded blue paint and almost every part under the hood, and can be brought inside with the reluctantly signed Notice of Transfer.




image:  Pinterest, Ancient Car

Monday, August 21, 2017

As If to Demonstrate



As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse

I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.

I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,

and I begin to sing
a homemade canticle of thanks
for this perfect little arrangement,
for not making the earth too hot or cold
not making it spin too fast or slow

so that the grove of orange trees
and the owl become possible,
not to mention the rolling wave,
the play of clouds, geese in flight,
and the Z of lightning on a dark lake.

Then I fill my glass again
and give thanks for the trout,
the oak, and the yellow feather,

singing the room full of shadows,
as sun and earth and moon
circle one another in their impeccable orbit
and I get more and more cockeyed with gratitude.

—Billy Collins


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

La Vie en Ambre


Away for the weekend, and gratefully back home here to the coast, where I'm nesting again.

Making a chicken and farro salad with green beans, goat cheese, marjoram.  With shallots—always tantalizingly mythical, redolent of the Victorian poets, alchemizing those Medieval and Arthurian elements.  A kind of amber skin, amber a kind of alchemy as well, fossilized tree resin holding inside it flowers, fruit, feathers, insects, crustaceans, spider webs, healing, history, life itself.

Getting ready to read The Cleaner of Chartres, by Salley Vickers (having loved Miss Garnet's Angel, set in Venice, holding inside its own amber heart the Archangel Raphael and the restoration of a 14th-century chapel).

I have lived by the sundial motto, "Count none but the sunny hours," and am pleased to learn there is a rose for such as me, named Amber Sun.





images:  Christie B. Cochrell, Sundial

Amber Sun rose

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Beyond the Dusk


I could smell the curves of the river beyond the dusk and I saw the last light supine and tranquil upon tideflats like pieces of broken mirror, then beyond them lights began in the pale clear air, trembling a little like butterflies hovering a long way off.
(William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury)

With August comes an awareness of summer, summer no longer mid-, but in decline, on its long, slow way out, burning itself up as it goes.  There is a great nostalgia in it, wistful sadness for the waking glory lost, the potential more than likely unfulfilled, fading and making-do begun.

As I have said before, to me The Sound and the Fury captures the feeling of summer as nothing else can, the quintessence of summer.  So I must either read it again now, for the umpteenth time, or try Light in August for a change.




image:  James McNeill Whister, Nocturne, Grey and Silver

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Thing Perhaps



 since the thing perhaps is
to eat flowers and not to be afraid
—E.E. Cummings

I have been amazed at the squirrels and the things they'll eat/have eaten—the new herbs I planted as a venture into the adventurous, comfrey (used since Roman times to heal wounds, broken bones) and chamomile (tromped underfoot in the Italian Alps when in pursuit of our Temple to Jupiter), the whole of one native blossoming plant (only the soil left untroubled around it), and all of the blue lobelia that I'm especially fond of.  I've been keeping secret from the squirrels a little deep blue willow ginger jar with defiant lobelia coming back after being eaten.  I think we should be able to all cohabit without fear, to indulge in our serener appetites or hold back as the moment asks.  It is a good thing to eat flowers unafraid, but good to live another day beyond the teeth that seek to nip us in the bud.




image:  Christie B. Cochrell, July Bouquet