Day after day dawns clear and warm. On Monday Fern and I ride the bike to the beach. On Tuesday, we do it again.
We cycle through Golden Gate Park, illusory in its greeness and biodiversity. Oak forests give way to Monterey Cypress and Japanese Maples. An artificial waterfall cascades down and I can feel ancestral memory ignited, but then it sparks out.
The sprinklers overshoot, watering the sidewalk.
At Ocean Beach it is high tide. Incoming waves have a silent sneak. A family watches one approaching, but instead of getting up they wait until the last possible moment, acting too late to save their picnic. We all laugh. And I also don’t like the metaphor.
The ocean is a vast expanse and here I can almost trick myself into smallness, falling back into belief that the world is infinite, ecology unbreakable. In the tidal “lakes” left on the shore, Fern and I find tiny jellyfish, floomping about. One gets stuck in the shallows by the edge and my daughter conducts her first animal rescue. Holding her sand tin gingerly with its fragile being in the bottom, Fern hikes out to the middle of the puddle and sets the “goopyfish” free.
There she says, turning back around. Now it has room to swim.
I can’t shake an image from my mind, that I saw last Friday. A slide from the most updated information on climate change. North America in 2065, entirely red. Desertification. The inside scoop from climate scientists, says our presenter, is that it’s too late. With a caveat that maybe if there is radical action in the next 10 years, we can buy ourselves some time.
I know all that already. I really do. But sometimes still I find myself holding a little parasol of hope. When I fold it up with a sigh, I find myself free falling. I think of this quote by Hafiz.
This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings so love, love, love.
I live in a city so it would make sense, but what really gets to me is when I “go” out to nature and I find it there too. The silence. The absence. The Cape Ivy covering forests in a livid and sterile green, the central California meadows quiet and prickly with Star Thistle. Partly a product of so much personal research into natural history, I can’t help but notice the stark contrast between knowing what used to be fully functional, riotous ecosystems and witnessing ones that are now hushed and barely hanging on.
Always I have dreamt of living far away from it all. Once, in the rainforest wilderness of British Columbia, I met a man who lived in a small homestead two boat rides away from any civilization. When I first saw him, he was sitting on a log, feeding a Chipmunk. He told me that he went days without seeing or speaking to another human, but that he didn’t mind at all because he was friends with all the animals that also called his plot of land home.
It’s another early Spring here in the lower haight, and already the Finch People are back and singing their songs. At the beach, all the Ravens were in pairs. I watched two dive bomb a Cypress and flush out a Red Tail. We go to see houses and turn in applications and make nice connections and don’t sign leases. I am wondering if I should muster up the enthusiasm to plant another garden downstairs. I find myself grieving a Winter that never happened and realize how much stock I put into taking Seasons for granted. There’s nowhere to run.
I tune into the present moment, making contact with what abides. I am delighted by Hummingbirds along the bike path, the White Crowned Sparrows answering each other across the buffalo paddock. Blackbirds set up a ruckus further inland and the Now is woven into the tapestry of memory of Other Springs. I tap into a fierceness of dedication, of loving and protecting, come what may.
At the Zoo a week ago, I watched the Giraffes and the way their necks danced impossibly slow through the air. Such giant creatures, such weight upon the ground and yet almost ethereal and dreamlike. I had to adjust my eyes, the way I find I often do, after so much time in the city. So used to looking at a world lacking in vitality, my vision at first is dizzy when confronted with a landscape that is alive. I hungrily witnessed the dance of the Giraffes, and felt the way my own blood spirals through its veins. I felt the way I sometimes do when having deja vu from an old memory. I realized bittersweetly that this primal connection was passing out of history, that we were truly entering the Anthropocene.
I surrender. But I don’t give up. I will love, I will fight for and I will protect. To the very last.