Good Evening

I hope the leaving is joyful, and I hope never to return

~Frida Kahlo

I have spent very little time outside these days. It’s glimpses of seabirds in the morning heading west to the Pacific, and I mourn the loss of Vitamin D. The doctor says that I need to take a supplement, but it doesn’t help much. I need to be outside, really, hiking. Tomorrow it will rain, but I get to be home, inside, looking out, and there is some solace in that.

I have found time to read on BART going into SF for work, and I just finished Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. She shares my love of animal rescue and taxidermy (mutually exclusive), and a more quirky way of looking at the world. I finally finished a book after many years, thank you public transportation. It’s a fun, easy read, check it out.

San Francisco has become my urban nature observation. I say hello to every pigeon I see like a crazy person, and watch people on streets on and on BART with a trained eye. I study their skin, their clothes, their disposition. The unshaven back of a man’s head, or the feathers we all wear…colorful scarves, wisps of hair falling from a beret, presence… and the smell of alcohol wafting up from the homeless man asleep in the back. I am among these wild, and I am the second witness.


Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.

~ Lewis Carroll

I felt a sense of joy today, twice even. The first time was early morning, but I forgot where I was. Even though not all is right with the world, I felt a swelling of happiness inside.

The second time I was sitting in front of a coffee shop, staring up over the buildings and in to the adjacent mountains, feeling truly alive and acutely aware of the wind and cold. I watched crows playing on that wind, letting it orchestrate their dance.

It was a day of senses, and I knew it was a special day as the first thing I smelled were some week-old flowers in my office, not rotting but fragrant. As I walked inside from my lunchtime stroll the scent of stems in water and wilting lilies rose up to greet me.

Then, there was the sound of asparagus being broken and hitting a stainless pan, a light ping-ping-ping.

And my little bird Willie, endlessly calling. I finally realized, after all this time, he wasn’t calling for me, but to the Black PhoebeSayornis nigricans, hunting for the last of his sunset meal on my lawn.

Washing dishes sounds like rain. I didn’t rush through that tonight.

There’s always a break in the rain

Life is the worst
Listen to me, I’m a philosopher
Love, that’s a trap
Responsibility, that’s a trap
Like a father to a son, I tell you this
Life is full of horror, nobody escapes, nobody, save yourself
Whatever pulls from you
Whatever needs from you
Threatens you
Learn at least this
What you are capable of, let nothing stand in your way

– Al Pacino in “Angels in America”

I have a love/hate relationship with the winter and December. But there is a beauty in the bareness that only animals with great noses are lucky to know; like the whiff of both orange trees that grow in the winter in my neighbors’ yards, and the smell of eucalyptus that wafts up on the wings of crows and ravens chasing away a hawk. If you look up waft, “to cause to move or go lightly by or as if by the impulse of wind or waves,” I think it’s very unlike the dictionary to have such a poet’s definition, and I am pleased.

My backyard, in all its commonness, is a place of ever-changing weather and an attack on the senses. The shapes and dreams from my childhood still live in the clouds – the bunnies, big hands, sweet pink cumulus, and the smells; coldness, wetness, darkness, sadness, and the thoughts the sun-smell brings. I’m reminded of the taste of carrots and vinegar, tomatoes and salt, all on the porch of a sunny day.

I spent time with my dying family this season. My sister, the caregiver, and my mother, having less and less to look forward to. The bitterness of the unthoughtful gift from my brother, and the brief visit that consummated in the long nap during the car ride home while my mate navigated his way with the company of 70s on 7.

Unlike letting mother nature move us and do its thing, we as humans are expected to navigate our human landscapes by how we want to live our lives as individuals. I had the sudden realization that, when there is a break in the rain, you have to seize the opportunity for another kind of life, happiness, and interpretation within the clouds around you.