it was one of those exquisite spring days yesterday. i spent the morning working in the garden (clearing ivy, honeysuckle, thistles & other intrusive plants not intended in the garden’s original plan [at the least only peripherally] & rearranging pots, adding fertilizer) making sure i took lots of little breaks to admire my work (& to rest my aching back) all this work the downside to a year-long growing season & an extra rainy winter.
that afternoon, on a walk through our hillside neighborhood, i carefully composed several photographs utilizing the camera in a mobile phone with the thought that i would post them during the walk as an ‘in the moment’ record of my activity.
the atmosphere sparkled with sunlight, glinting & shimmering against the little shards of mirror-like moisture/smog/onshore ocean air that makes the light in southern california particularly attractive (to artists, photographers, writers.) i wanted to capture that sparkling light & hoped that its elusive quality would translate itself through the phone’s camera lens as if i had been able to capture the moment a conjurer makes his beautiful assistant disappear in a wisp of smoke (& mirror.)
with the sun as bright as it was, i ducked among the shade thrown by ficus trees along the sidewalk to check whether or not what i was seeing was what the camera was. i wasn’t sure that it was capturing the mosaic quality of the valley below or the pixelated light, the camera’s playback screen not as clear as my digital camera’s so i held back on the ‘in the moment’ aspect, but continued composing, pushing the o.k. button, ever hopeful.
interestingly, both gardening & walking have been solitary pursuits, & i have been left with my own thoughts & dreams & ruminations, only the thrum of the occasional car passing by in the canyon below or speeding up the hill–birdsong punctuating the script.
i faced the steep uphill walk, its vanishing point a shady goal from the relentless (but pleasantly familiar) sunlight, a warm, friendly arm around my shoulders. i thought of a drafting class that i took in 8th or 9th grade, taught by mr. ________, the crew-cut, button-down, chino-wearing ‘shop’ teacher who gently allowed me my incompetencies in wood/metal shop class (in case any of us were not cut out for further academic study, technical school instead) & encouraged & admired my drafting flourishes with kind words & high marks.
a young star pine (aka norfolk island pine) at the top of the hill drew me to its gallant handsomeness, branches bursting from its trunk in a joyous hallelujah of matter over mind (will we see more clearly after death?) a joyous evocation of the beauty of nature/the nature of beauty.
i heard the beating of my heart in counterpoint to the beating of a bird’s wings, the rush & rustle of the wind on the upbeat; the sun, even, harmonically shimmering, twinkling, tinkling.
i looped around the top of the hill through a more manicured community, each shrub, tree, lawn, pavement, shadow elegantly topiaried & espaliered; all bending nature to do man’s bidding; thinking that for now, we may believe we can see through the lens of this life, but darkly, darkly.