Canticle of the Fog

Sunday morning I enjoyed an extra ten minutes in bed without the aggressive love of my toddler. Free to repose without being used as a horsey or beanbag, I relaxed in a spaciousness that felt infinite with the absence of pleas for stories and “hot winks”. As my dreaming soul began to retreat in the changing of the guard, it was able to whisper one last thing before the sergeant of daytime took over. An inner landscape unfolded, I saw a golden crown and felt a little nudge…

“The Evening Primrose request your presence.”

Ah, yes! It is early July and the pale light coming in the windows tells me that our “true summer” has arrived. The day has dawned without agenda, and today that clearly means one thing…time for a visit to Secret Beach.

Jeff brought me coffee, biscuits, and a bowl of homemade plum jam (look for that on Wednesday) and we plotted our adventure. Clothes were hastily thrown on, snacks and water were stuffed in a bag, and we rolled out of the house early enough that Jeff said, “My body isn’t ready to be outdoors yet”. Too bad buddy! When Place calls to you, you heed that call.

This is the first summer where I actually feel grateful to see the fog roll in. Anyone who has ever had a five minute conversation with me knows my deep resentment towards summer in San Francisco. However, given our warm and utterly abnormal winter, plus the way the rest of the country is frying in record breaking heat, I am so happy for what feels like normalcy in regards to climate.

Mama? I want my benna with the moos and stahz. If you can decipher that, we will put you on our babysitter list.

Solanum xanti. Purple nightshade, chaparral nightshade.

The fruit. NOT edible.

Sea Figs are just about ripe.ย 

Ok. Help a mother out. WHAT is this plant/flower? I’ve been trying to ID it for two years. It’s not dune tansy and it’s not yarrow and it’s not goldenrod. Rachel, do you know?

Follow me to the Queen!

There she was, in the same spot I found her last year. “Hooker’s” Evening Primrose. I deciphered her call in a beautiful and synchronous way, which I will share for Foraging Fridays this week.

I knew we would come upon an enticement that she would not be able to resist.

I dreamed of having a tree house when I was a kid (The lack of which still smarts. MOM and DAD I’m looking at YOU.). So it was not without a certain amount of satisfaction that I poo-pooed Jeff’s hesitation and led the expedition, followed closely by my pint sized side-kick.

See? It’s perfectly safe. Clean even. There’s nothing to…OH MY GOD, WHAT DID YOU JUST PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? Ancient raisin snack of unknown origin? Awesome. Keep building that immune system.

Getting down was a bit tricky, involving leverage and lowering of small tykes. I waivered before my descent, shouting to Jeff, “Did I ever tell you I’m afraid of heights?”. As cozy as the tree house was, I wasn’t prepared to spend the night, so I finally took the leap.

Only one way to finish an expedition. Swing, swing, swing!

I know. You’re all admiring my fine choice of 70’s poncho with garish silver 80’s kangaroo sneaks. Don’t be jealous.

St Francis of Assisi, after whom our fine city is named, wrote The Canticle of the Sun in 1228. It is a declaration of his personal theology, and one that I have an affinity for too. But considering how sunshine packs it’s bags and heads inland during our summer months, ย I think a renaming should be considered.

We have been enjoying the gorgeous children’s book Brother Sun, Sister Moon,ย which is a beautiful retelling of the canticle. The illustrations alone are worth checking out. It has been informing our mornings, as we read it almost every day, the perfect frame for enjoying the gifts of long summer days.

Here is the original version. We live in a beautiful world!

The Canticle of the Sun

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.


14 thoughts on “Canticle of the Fog

  1. Intuitive lass, what a way to start and spend your day, I like the sound of a sleep in with brekie in bed, and a moment to take in what calls you, just a little stillness is very nice for a mom, just long enough to hear the silence. Lovely Fern so adapted to foraging and adventuring. What a sweet family you make, amongst those foggy days you almost look as if you guys might be here, in Ireland, also full of white cloudy foggy summer’s days: )

    xx E

  2. Oh and a million thanks for posting these words of st. francais. Its the second time this month!!!!!! that I have been ushered towards reading him. I was on a writers retreat with teh poet Jay Ramsay, who spoke of him and the wisdom and soulfulness. Thank you a wonderful blessing x

  3. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh synchronous indeed, as I sit here hunched over my laptop rueing the cold chill ….O and M in blankets while we pump out superficial heat from our gas fire – I haven’t lit the real one yet today. I’m thankful for the seasons….I hope they continue to happen. Finally on our last day in Bodega Bay we woke up to fog – and it was glorious!!! I was jumping about the cottage living room excited that it finally happened. I really loved that place, it seemed timely that the coast would show it’s true colours to us before we left. I like your sneaks girl. And your adventures. Our heads are still full of warm thoughts of our stay in Calfornia. Papercutting and a prayer, nice way to end reading your post today. xoxo

  4. Mary – it’s likely Lizardtail, Eriophyllum stoechadifolium –>

    Did you save some plums for wine? I am ready to help you if you froze at least 4 lbs! I made plum jam yesterday too! We picked 30 lbs total. The mead is blurping away happily and the jam is done. Soon, my friend will have prune plums….and i am mentally working on their fate at the moment (saw a recipe for chocolate plum jam with sage! does that sound great?! And so i also thought a chocolate plum tequila liqueur would match it well!)…..

    1. YES. thank you…as i’ve been trying to id it, i kept bumping against wooly sunflower and yarrow, but they weren’t quite right. i expected it would be something in the same family. btw, did you know what to look for to pull up that link? because as i was searching to id it, i tried every identifying characteristic i could think of (color, leaf shape, location etc) and nada.

      also, i have AT LEAST four lbs of plums, prolly more like 10! and er….if there is any way we can add chocolate to whatever wine/liquor thing we make, i am all for it!!

      1. I just knew it was Lizard Tail, so then i googled it to make sure. Some of the sites that classify by color, etc, are great, but others not so much. One place i like is Las Pilitas nursery – they sell CA natives. There is a lot of info on their site. Go to their site and follow the ‘Nature of California’ links, among others: You can learn a lot.
        Now, as far as adding chocolate to wine, well, not sure. If you want to do a liqueur, it’s much easier. We can talk about it as well as what you want to do with the wine (let’s talk IRL). You surely have enough plums – with some left over – to make 2 gallon jugs of wine. We can plot on the phone.

  5. What a beautiful place! And now I’m reminded that I only live 30 minutes from Ft. Bragg/Mendocino and haven’t been there YET this summer. But then, gas is so crazy expensive and my car needs tires and blah, blah, excuse, excuse. I just need to call in sick to work and go to the beach I think.

    Those things you called Sea Figs… those pokey, succulent-looking things that are EVERYWHERE on the coast… are those edible? What the heck would one do with them? I’m inspired by your foraging and want to try eating more wild things. Er… plants. Not, like, squirrels or anything.

    Also really excited about the upcoming plum jam recipe! Our neighbor’s plum tree has been dropping messy plum bombs on my car for weeks and I’ve been thinking about picking them to use somehow but OH MY GAWD they’re tart!

    1. jen, yes, sea figs (incorrectly called ice plant usually) IS that plant you see everywhere. it was brought in by the army corps of engineers back in the day, to help with dune/soil erosion. it’s native to so. africa, and the fruit (those bulbous things you see in the pic) has a salty, figgy type thing in the middle. um…you can eat it or make jam out of it, but i don’t really recommend it. i didn’t find them that tasty and getting the thick skin off was more trouble than it was worth. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      also, if those plums are droppin, get out there girl, before they’re gone! freeze em if you don’t have time to process right away. and they totally are SO tart…the key is lots and lots of SUGAR. xo

    1. *sigh*. i can’t tell you brigit. IT’S A SECRET! ๐Ÿ˜›

      we have had an unusual amount of sun so far this year. but i feel your pain. i have residual trauma from previous summers. i hope the sun shines on you soon!

  6. oh how i LOVE the canticle of the sun! i have wanted to do a post about it for years but somehow never have. i love that book as well ๐Ÿ˜€

    well this is just a post chalk full of loveliness mary! that tree house is pretty super duper and the landscape is just divine! remind me again why you’re dying to move??? ;D

  7. I never knew that San Francisco was named for St Francis of Assisi. When I read that sentence my eyebrows shot to the top of my forehead and my mouth made a perfect O. As someone who loves words and loves seeing the meaning behind them this was a very cool revelation.

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