Monday, December 29, 2014

Give Us This Day

After our first real rain in six-months, the city is Windex clean, and the patch of ocean visible from the far corner of our property, glistens silver blue. Today I've done what I do every morning at dawn, picked up my camera and walked out into crisp air to capture the views from this hill.

Every morning it's different. Sometimes overcast with a sea and sky of gray; sometimes the whole scene is striped with pastels. At this early hour, the pin-prick lights of oil derricks, five-miles out, sparkle like Christmas trees on water. And the sky above them beams persimmon.

That fragment of ocean -- iridescent piece of puzzle -- I cannot resist. That's what does it, what pulls me into the yard: the sorbet colors, and the sunrise fleeting and translucent as a memory.

The magic moves fast. From the houses on the hills  - which at pre-dawn, when the sky is still dark, and the merest tinge of lapis barely a vibration -- porch lights glow like fireflies on the mountains. But as the sun lifts and light washes over, the porch lights disappear and windows become reflections. A ranch house with long rectangular windows gleams burnished copper. The windows of a three-story Mediterranean, burn nectarine.

First one, then two, and at its peak, when the sun rises above the canyon to bare its first molten streak, some picture windows blaze like exploding stars. This performance takes place every day between 5:30 and 7:00 am, and is, for me, a woman of eclectic beliefs, a kind of morning mass.

                                                                      *  *  *


This day, this day, so alive on my breath, let me enter it like the liquid of a still pond. Let me wade as if swimming in warm water. Let conflicts wash over me without connecting. Let them drift away in my reflecting sky.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Last Month

Now, in August, I am here once again -- at this line where summer begins its sad song. I can hear a flute echoing down the shore, wending its way along the ribbons of the coast. In a matter of weeks, the celebration will end, and overnight the crowded beaches will grow bare. Even if we still have warm days, they will be different now; they will be shorter and shaded with shadows: eclipsed by the approaching presence of fall. And I will walk beside the water, inhaling the briny scent of kelp and hearing the tumult of waves.

Even without thinking I will feel loss. The laughter will be gone, the season will be shifting, and I will see this year heading toward a gate. Some part of me will also be glad -- glad to have the beach returned to me -- empty now of tourists -- a wide sheet of ivory sand. The shorebirds will claim their places again, free from distractions, except for an intermittent jogger or a dog. And I will have this boundless air: a place where my mind can travel, soaring above blue water into that infinite space of peace.

There will be September, August's neighbor, shouldering in with its promise of crimson, with its fluttering liquid ambers. Soon crowded schoolyards and bustling commuters jamming the streets of Junipero, Padre and Mission, will trump the summer clamor on Upper State Street and the din of downtown. Santa Barbara will settle back into "our town," not theirs. We will return to our rhythms, our people, our workday worlds.

And I will watch the clock turning -- a girl bred of summer, a woman who follows the sun -- and I will bow, once more, to the passing of these glistening days.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Today the Jacarandas

They're back, the jacarandas, crowning the streets of the lower East Side. Everywhere sprawling purple. When you drive down Mason, or up Chapala, pastel smudges tint the shadows, watercolor washes canopy streets.


Every year I anticipate this display, eyeing the almost invisible trees with their dull olive leaves (and especially in this drought year) thinking, "No, it's not going to happen, not this time." And then a sprig of purple appears, and next a bough of blossoms, and finally, oh I of little faith, see like clockwork their return; and I savor the days when jacarandas burst forth like advancing cumulus clouds. And when I drive -- coasting the small streets and the wide -- I follow the purple with my eyes as if magnetized.




Blooming in waves, some of the trees are full now. Others like the moon are receding, spilling spring confetti onto curbs, onto lawns, onto hoods of cars, and tapping my shoulder like the touch of a stranger when I
come in close for a photo.




And in the shade of the jacaranda, as I snap, snap my camera a voice calls, "They're purple, like your hat," I turn to see a middle-aged man in a beige van idling in a driveway. Slightly balding with wire rimmed glasses, he leans forward in his seat, "They're purple like your hat," he says again, "and royal, and they bloom every year." I smile, signal thumb's up and we both nod. He then disappears down Montecito Street.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday's Question: Can Love be Little?

Mark Rothko is an artist I admire, his courage to speak in planes of color and leave the representational images behind. How I love to enter his luminous world and dream of following suit with brushes, canvas and paint.

Yesterday, on my evening walk, when I crested the hill above Via Regatta, the ocean greeted me with a horizon blended into sea and sky. Only because I knew the islands were there, could I detect a faint outline, but mostly what I saw was milk-glass: a Rothko image #17 in silvery shades of pink and blue. I hurried home to get my camera hoping to capture the misty "all one" scene before it changed.

I succeeded in taking the photos. Later, when I scrolled through the images, I came upon other photos taken over the past few weeks. In my collection of random shots, there were no covers for National Geographic, or calendar pages for the Sierra Club, just simple surprises I'd found on street corners and unexpected vistas happened upon. I remembered an assignment from an old poetry class, where we were asked to write a poem on "Little Loves." My first response became the title of the poem I wrote: "Can Love be Little?"

Then, I realized that my memory card with its almost forgotten images seemed to be a blog post waiting.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Watermelon Morning

"I love it so much I could fall on the sidewalk and sob,"
I said to Julian, who I'd met less than an hour ago.
Who he was, I didn't care,
it was Carol who had designs on him
and had told me of her plan to snag him.
Maybe like with cats, it's disinterest that attracts
but he stayed with me after the crowd dispersed
and wanted to talk and talk.
He seemed surprised and moved to tears
when I shared with him
how much I love Santa Theresa.

And then, I opened my eyes from the dream
to find my room glowing.
Through my north window, behind the willows,
a watermelon sky.
Through my drapes to the east,
a wall of pink,
and all around me inside my room,
the light of roses.

In order to remember
I repeated it in my mind
over and over like music:
"I love it so much
I could fall on the sidewalk and sob,"
and then, I grabbed my camera
and hurried into the yard
to let myself swim in the color.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Magic Morning

In the low light of daybreak

everywhere I looked something caught my eye
and I wondered when did this happen
how could this be
all the imperfections
sanded smooth
and more than that
glowing from the inside
and then I let them go
the questions
and followed
image after image with my camera
like a bee
in a garden
gathering nectar.