Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blog migration

This is my last entry to this blog. "Ecologs" is now a category on my all purpose blog, Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Zunoquad: Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago (5)

Day 5

The morning of departure from Insect Island was rainy, making it easier to pull up stakes. Again led by Navigator John we wended our way down Misty Passage, past Tracy, Mars, and Hudson islands, through Spiller Passage, across Arrow Passage, past Betty Cove, through the Fog Islets by Cedar Island to Owl Island, situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet.

The trip was punctuated by a pee and gorp stop on an unvegetated rock islet. We glided through several liquid slits between islands, challenging to find in the fog and thrilling to negotiate.

Here at the edge of the open sea, vegetation was sculpted by prevailing winds into thick rounded hedges. Unperturbed, a bald eagle in a snag observed our progress.

We found the campsite at Owl Island squeezed into a narrow terrace between vertical rock walls and the high tide line, protected from exposure at the head of a long bay. Tall spruces, second growth but 200 feet tall, fronted the water, and a fire ring was placed in the shelter of large vegetation-covered driftwood logs.

After carrying the kayaks safely onshore, we pitched tents, found appropriate toilet locations, and built a bench and footrest with the capacity to seat the whole crew comfortably near the fire drying out clothing wet from the voyage and last night’s rain. Once again the weather cleared and insects stayed away.

Steve, the resident sculptor, started work on a Zunoqua totem, using flotsam he found on the beach and nails ingeniously pried out of the wide driftwood board that served as our kitchen table. We searched for water but found no source nearby. This was the first location we stayed at that did not include a shell midden.

Murray and Steven prepared the dinner of canned Chili, couscous and bacon bits. The sunset gave the treetops and rocks at the mouth of the bay a golden glow. From different directions two wolves howled.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Native Plants in Garden

bay laurel
big leaf maple
black sage

blue oak

blue eyed grass
Buckeye aesculus californicum
buckwheat eriogonum grande rubescens
bush baccharis
bush lupine
bush poppy
California bay laurel Umbellularia californica
California buckwheat
California Fuschia.
california goldenrod
california grape–vitis californica

The Wild Braid

At the Sierra Club ExCom meeting in March, Cal began with a reading, as is our custom. It was from a new book by and about Stanley Kunitz, The Wild Braid, A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden.

The garden is a domestication of the wild, taking what can be random, and, to a degree, ordering it so that it is not merely a transference from thewild, but still retains the elements that make each plant shine in its natural habitat.

In the beginning, a garden holds infinite possibilities. What sense of its nature, or its kingdom, is it going to convey? It represents a selection, not only of whatever individual plants we consider to be beautiful, but also a synthesis that creates a new kind of beauty, that of a complex and multiple world. What you plant in your garden reflects your own sensibility, your concept of beauty, your sense of form. Every true garden is an imaginative construct, after all.

I’m not sure if this is the actual passage he read, I was so struck both by the cover image of a bent-over hundred year old man gazing like a lover at his plants and by the recollection that Jan and I first set eyes on each other at a poetry seminar about Stanley Kunitz in 1966. Also distracted back then, I hadn’t paid attention to his writings since. But that book cover brought it together: the passage of time that we were planning to mark in our upcoming 40th anniversary celebration, not yet bent over, but transformed from children into grandparents. I mentioned the coincidence, there were appreciative murmurs, then on we went to discuss the budget.

While Jan made the guest list, mailed invitations, shopped for food, and spruced up the house, I prepared for the party by working in the garden, carving a new path in the adobe clay, trimming lower limbs of the pygmy oaks, transplanting bunch grasses. We were wedded in a garden in our backyard. Now this garden had turned into a setting I wanted to share for a while, just as I wanted to share the private space of marriage. When we arrived here nineteen years ago I knew this was a place I would transform and be transformed in. The change had come to pass.

The invitation to our celebration said “No gifts, but donations welcome to Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club or Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO).” In the midst of the crowd at the drinks table, Cal handed me a package and said he was sorry to be violating the rule, but please would I open it. It was The Wild Braid.

Three days after the party I was missing classes, in bed with a sinus infection. Between naps, I wandered around in the book, finding poems about gardening and other outdoor experiences, memoirs about circumstances of their composition, prose reflections on their themes–bucolic retreat, cultivation, composting, decay, renewal, and the connections between horticulture and writing. They recalled my first scholarly article, “‘Fortunate Senex’: The Pastoral of Old Age.” Arranged like beds and terraces, I discovered photographs of the ancient sage among the trees and flowers and conversations that took place during the time between partial recovery from a massive stroke and his death.

This morning I woke up at 5:15, still not healthy but eager to walk my trails at daybreak. Greeting the yucca, the hummingbird sage, the blue oak, seeing new blooms on the Columbine, I thought again of The Wild Braid. I’d only taken the first stroll through its garden. I'll return to find paths I’ve missed and revisit spots in changing seasons. Looking ahead, I knew I’d found a guide.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April Sunrise

When I opened the curtain at 5:45 there was already a blue-gray glow in the western sky. We’re a third of the way to the solstice. I wont wake up in the dark anymore till August.

I sit in the green plastic Adirondack chair with the big camera beside me waiting for the sunrise over Cuesta Ridge. I’ve come back to it after noticing that the older plant photos on my screensaver have much more depth and brilliance than the ones I’ve taken recently with the point-and-shoot, even though it has higher resolution. It’s the lens stupid.

My perch is a new seat in the garden, three quarters of the way up the bank above the grape arbor at a switchback in the south trail. I decided to carve it out of the adobe clay on Saturday while sprucing up the yard to prepare for our big party this weekend.

Two rock doves clean up spilled seeds under the bird feeder, a hummingbird visits the hummingbird sage, a bee sips at the holly-leaf cherry flowers.

Week 4 of classes, Spring mind bursting with things to say and write and plan and execute.

I’ll be returning to this spot nestled between a Channel Island Ironwood and a Sugarbush.

A temperate dawn soothed by a wisp of breeze, disturbed by the barking dog next door and the hubbub of traffic.

Now the sun paints the east face of Caballo Peak, and now touches the grapevine and the belly of the goldfinch in the pine branch overhead. Now it casts shadows on the path. Now it’s 7:00 o’clock and time to get to work.

But first just a few more pictures.