The World is Alive Now, In and Outside Our Home

The other night, I sat with Jeff in our sunroom, with its windows overlooking the twinkly city scape. I had just read yet another horrible article about human greed and stupidity. As we talked, I noticed my eyes were darting back and forth over the buildings, looking at the lights, searching. And I recognized that it has been too long since I have gotten out. I can only cope with facing this world head on when I can relate to something bigger than humanity. I believe this is a need that we all have, although I also think it flies under the radar, too much of the time. For some, this need is filled through relationship with God. For me, it is through relationship with nature. Those two are not necessarily dissimilar.

The next morning, I went through our daily motions with restlessness, wondering what Fern and I should do with our day. I checked my voicemail and listened to a message from America, saying that yes, indeed, we should come up to Petaluma to see the lambies. She was sick and needing to take it easy, so I packed up some fire cider and immediately jumped in the car with Fern.

America greeted us at the door of her dreamy “little red house” (as Fern calls it), and my very bones relaxed at the sight of her warm smile. Inside it was toasty and filled with good soup smells. We had a pot of nettle and mint tea (with local honey in a jar that Fern absconded into a corner with) and I silently gave thanks for good conversation and the company of an ally.

Then, we all decided It Was Time to go see the lambies.

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Like all children, lambs remind me of how amazing Life is. They frolic and bounce about, just for the sheer joy of being alive. It is THIS aspect of the world that deserves to be faced head on, as much as possible in every moment. I honestly believe it is the primary reason we are here. To be embodied and to delight in it.

The pasture was all puddly and stream-ey, so Fern decided to go fishing.

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America and I chatted about those top 5 toys of all time, the stick being #1.

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America sent a stick fish through the tunnel, and they both waited patiently as it floated s-l-o-w-l-y out.

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She finally caught one!

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We had only meant to stay a couple of hours, but the day stretched on, and we headed home in the late afternoon. Meri loaned me a couple of books, Flight Behavior by Kingsolver and State of Change by L. Cunningham.

I expected to jump immediately into Flight Behavior, since Kingsolver is one of my all time fave authors. However, State of Change has grabbed me by the lapels and I can’t put it down. It is a somewhat brutal read for a heart already inclined to earth mourning. But her vision is extraordinary, and so I keep turning pages.

A paleontologist, she uses her phenomenal skills as an artist to paint the landscapes of California as they would have been before, well, the 1400s, the 1700s, the gold rush, industrialization. The images are awe inspiring, and they also strike out with what is lost.

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Before: El Cerrito in the Bay Area

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After: The same location, El Cerrito Plaza. A mall. Because you know, the world needs more parking lots.

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Before: Nob Hill in San Francisco, 500 years ago

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After: Nob Hill in 2010

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Before: San Fernando Valley 500 years ago

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After: San Fernando Valley, currently

According to written reports of “explorers” from those early days of “discovering” California, Bears…golden, black, grizzly...were so abundant that it was normal to see up to 50 a day, as a low expectation. I grew up in rural California. I have seen two bears in my life. One was in the Canadian wilderness. The other was dead on the side of the road.

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Lagunitas Creek in Marin

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All of the above images are by Laura Cunningham.

Reading State of Change, I am strongly reminded of how our current existence is one that we have little cellular memory for. We evolved with these bears, with the native grasses, with flocks of birds blocking out the sun, with shellfish so abundant that we could create monuments to our consumption. We need this earth and all its creatures. I need the wild…it’s how I remember I have a soul.

We drove home through the golden afternoon of late January. As Fern fell asleep in the back of the car, I took a detour onto San Antonio Road. There was an available property that I wanted to check out. As we twisted and turned along the road, my legs went cold and my heart pounded as I looked out on a landscape that I could call home. Who knows how it could manifest, but I want to find a home in this little valley south of Petaluma. My soul could find its God there.

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8 thoughts on “The World is Alive Now, In and Outside Our Home

  1. So thought-provoking and beautiful, as always.
    I’m imagining a piece of land for you and all the amazing things you could do with it. I’d contribute to a kickstarter for any/all of those things, just saying. šŸ™‚

  2. When I read these posts, I automatically start fretting about New Zealand; I know that it still retains large expansive areas of natural beauty and wildlife. But i also know from my own experience how it is being depleted. I know that in the Sounds, the water looked so beautiful and abundant but if you pay attention you can see all of the mussel farms that are feeding Asia….that are taking the plankton from the small fish that would naturally thrive there, but are now being found in less and less numbers. Ultimately there will be less bigger fish. And then the dolphins will stop coming. Unless you take an interest in the area or live there ordinary NZ follk wouldn’t know this. I don’t know if I told you but Steve went out for a hike with a friend in a very remote area just a little while ago – they saw no deer, and heard no birds. now THAT is weird. Birds are about all we have down here. Everything is changing. Sorry dude to be so depressing. The day you had with Fern in Petaluma looks like a tonic in itself. I’m glad you got to do that. I too am imagining you on that peace of land. x

  3. I like the before pictures better than the after. Too many buildings, not enough open spaces. the beauty of living in Novato is that I can leave my house, turn right, go up two blocks, turn left, go another two blocks and there’s nothing but farms and ranches to look at. I could drive for days through there and never get bored with it.

  4. oh my! those lambies are too sweet!

    the book sounds really interesting. and that last picture is gorgeous! i can see why you’d want to settle there šŸ˜€

  5. oh how i hope and pray that your piece of heaven turns up. i want to come visit YOUR lambies there, and stroll the green fields and scamper with joy like a spring bunny. you are a romantic, my dear, i’m sure you’ve read wordsworth and coleridge…

    “Like all children, lambs remind me of how amazing Life is. They frolic and bounce about, just for the sheer joy of being alive. It is THIS aspect of the world that deserves to be faced head on, as much as possible in every moment. I honestly believe it is the primary reason we are here. To be embodied and to delight in it.”

    …because your words echo their sentiments perfectly. brings to mind the passage from Wordsworth’s “Resolution and Independence,” aka the Leech-Gatherer:

    “All things that love the sun are out of doors;
    The sky rejoices in the morning’s birth;
    The grass is bright with raindrops; – on the moors
    The hare is running races in her mirth;
    And with her feet she from the plashy earth
    Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun,
    Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.”

    This passage always goes through my mind after a rain. Always the whisper under the words that THIS is the natural state of life, joy, bliss, a spiritual connection through all things, the divine in nature.

    Yay, looks like i”m almost in my poetry reading phase that comes most Februaries.

    Meanwhile I’ll have to read State of Change as well. And let my heart break, as all good romantics must.

  6. Fern has apple dumplin’ cheeks, she seems like the adventurer extraordinary.
    Lady kingsolver’s ‘small wonder’ is a small miracle, and I just reread ‘animal dreams.’… gotta love a novel every now and then. I can’t wait to read both of the books you’ve posted about…. Those pictures are so beautiful and gut wrenching.
    Whenever I wander through my town it’s always with my x-ray goggles… There may be malls and parking lots and sprawl itching along every surface but I can see the native land. I can feel her beauty and I know her beauty.
    I know that earth is sacred, even when desecrated. my relationship with my current location is often a source of pure grief but it’s been growing and healing with the studying of the native peoples and their connection to the land. Hellooo, acorns. Hellooo, salmon.

    I can feel Petaluma calling to you.
    I know how dreaming about a plot of land for sale can keep one tossing and turning into the wee hours of the morn… The heart beats and beats and beats and beats, crying out for it’s deepest wishes.

    You should go set up a tent there. And squat. The land wants your stewardship and friendship.

    I’ll meet you there and then we’ll have a prayer circle for brother bear.

  7. maybe in the next couple years, you and i can start a mom farm out in the country somewhere. i want to be closer to petaluma one day, too. i like that it is so lush, and closer to the ocean. and by mom farm, i don’t mean we should have more babies. just – ya know – some moms. i just started Flight Behavior the other day. so far so good. i love BK, too. thinking of you, sending love.

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