Saturday, December 17, 2011

excerpt for a New Book, Balloons


Who is it who does not like balloons: the colors, the symmetry, the fact that they float. My first memory of balloons was that of my older cousin popping them. I was appalled; in my three year old mind, popping balloons was sacrilegious. To this day, I identify with children who cry when their treasure explodes, and what remains is ragged and so gone.
An escaped helium balloon is quite beautiful as it waggles into the air and finally disappears. I have found the collapsed remains on beaches, have seen them surfing on the waves. I have found them on mountain passes, have noticed them waving like flags in tree tops. (I carried a heart-shaped balloon in my backpack for a week and was reluctant to part with it in the trash at the trailhead.) I have found balloons on my five acres. There once was an extraordinary red balloon that lasted for weeks, lodged high in a fir tree in the woods. Then one day, its brilliant color and its oval shape were no more; I like to think that it floated - away.
Latex balloons are not allowed in hospitals; I forgot that, and was turned away when I went to visit a hospitalized third grade student. I felt so disappointed as I took the balloons back to my car, so lonely.
Black balloons are an antithesis of balloon essence – the colors and the weightlessness of most balloons represent lightheartedness; black balloons are quite grim. On my fortieth birthday, I was presented with black balloons. I popped them; those were the only balloons I ever popped on purpose.
Balloons are so like wishes: bright and light. When I consider my wishes, I feel impractical – but, nevertheless, I still wish . . .
I were walking across Tuolomne Meadows with Ben,
through a garden of nasturtium and Four O'clocks with EJ,
on a warm sandy beach with Greg,
on the mossy lake edge at Rae Lakes with Jesse,
down Kiwi Road with Gem.
Wishes are like that: figments . . . like the bright, colorful balloons that make us happy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

excerpt for a New Book, Misplaced Spring Day

A Misplaced Spring Day

January, 2011. Finally, warmer, sunny days. On the first of these, everyone was “out,” cordial and loud – even squirrels and bush birds. Finches, Juncos, Nuthatches, Sparrows - though the Raven pair watched me without a sound, still and regal, great thinkers. In the wetlands, I noticed the tentative song of the frogs, the sounds of spring - in winter.
The light is beautiful, reflections silver-bright, even the pine needles hold the light. The scents are beautiful: warm pine and cedar, ethereal flowery scents that are here, and then gone.
I anticipate misplaced spring days in winter – misplaced summer days in spring, although they often make me feel nostalgic, make me feel a longing, an anxiety – because I know that loss is as inevitable as love?
Running, I spread my “wings;” the essence of the day lightens me; I feel brave. (In memory, I hear Stu singing, a phrase here, a phrase there. I hear his voice when I listen to the recording of BeatusVir; hear him among the other baritones; hear a voice that is mellow and true.)
It is on misplaced summer days in spring that I rush into my garden to set my seedlings. It is on misplaced summer days in the fall that I long for the dust of the trail; and in summer, in the high mountains, I feel the winter cold of blowing snow.
I am more inclined to collect things on misplaced days. Today, I pocketed a rock, black and shiny with stripes of quartz; I will carry it for awhile. I pocketed laurel leaves, the scent of California wild.
Beautiful days bow to cold nights - when we ask, “Wasn't it a beautiful day?”
There will be others, though.
In the seasons, we will learn to bless the passing of time and the days that take our hearts – with the splash of ache and the rush of ecstasy.