Posts Tagged ‘dog walk


landscapes in the early morning light (shortly after sunrise)

a few days ago when it was still in the 80s and the santa ana winds were blowing from the northeast and out across the ocean i managed to get over to the other side of our coastal mountain and watch the sunrise over the mountains to the east, the ones that cradle the orange county valley and separate us from the desert.

this weather event (it’s what they call it here, an event) produces stunning sunrises and sunsets (see my week of one day’s sunset, 2, 3, 4, 5 here), but the timing of your arrival can be a bit hit or miss, especially if you’re walking a dog, which i was on this day’s early morning.

as much as i wanted to get to a point where i could see the sun actually top the mountains on its rise from the eastern world, my canine companion was more interested in the early morning smells of dogs and rabbits and coyotes and birds and grass blades and cracks in the sidewalk and the sprinkler timers and a tree or two and succulents and gravel and streetlights and a stone bench and had to stop several times and sit down to scratch an ear that’s been aggravating him recently and while he was down he might as well lick his penis, cause that’s what dogs do and then he’d look at me like “what next?” because he’s blind and i have to keep him heading in the right direction so he doesn’t run into trees and large rocks and junipers and stone benches and succulents and cacti and sprinkler timers or off into the street or down the wrong driveway as they slope away from our community’s circular main road so i set aside my needs for his, after all, he means more to me than the opportunity to take photographs of the sun rising over the eastern mountains of orange county so that i can post them on my blog(s) and facebook in order that people who pay some attention to what i’m doing will ❤ or comment or re-blog or whatever it is they do when they find something i’ve written or photographed moving or funny or ironic (irony having not died as many felt it would when “seinfeld” went off the air in 199? or was it 200? who can remember or care for that matter it was so long ago and that hair of elaine’s drove me crazy), so we continued on our way and all the while i could sense that i was missing that moment, that special time when the sun is just creeping ever so slowly up and over the mountaintops and its radiant crown (think crown like the statue of liberty’s) moves into view and everything takes on the golden glow of apollo’s chariot as it races across the heavens toward the darkness in the west. too many metaphors <sigh>

the trees turn toward the light, a move so subtle that you may miss it should you be distracted by the glory of early morning sunlight, lining up along the parade route like ensor’s acolytes in his “the entry of christ into brussels” from 1889–have you seen that painting? it hangs at the getty center in l.a. and has always been a favorite of mine, you can see and read about it here–crowding around the sunlight without fear of igniting themselves, self-immolation not on their card for today.

this is the apocalyptic eucalyptus from my 2009 post “trees that i am friends with” which…i cannot believe that i’ve been contributing to my blog for over three years now. i admit it seems as if i’ve been doing this all my life, but only recently realized that i have committed tens of thousands of words to, to, to what exactly i have no idea, but i will say it has brought me some comfort and joy.

and at last, with some flag-waving, the dog and i turned our backs on the sunrise and the fog laying quietly in the valleys and arroyos as the grand landscape unfurled at our feet.


i went for a walk (yesterday’s news today!)

but first, the weather: it’s been “unseasonably hot”, which is tv-weatherman-speak for it’s an inferno.

the hibiscus don’t seem to mind, though, which was heartening as my walk with joey began yesterday afternoon.

while i admired the view (and thought about how ‘cool’ it would be to be able to fly)

the clouds gathered for a convention “hi, my name is cumulus”

joey managed to find shade exactly the right size for him and he stuck to it just like my t-shirt was sticking to my back (that white-on-rice moment)

and contrary to popular belief (that there are no other people living in my neighborhood who actually walk out-of-doors instead of driving even the shortest of distances–for instance from their house to the community pool, which…in most cases is less than a city block away from their front door) a few other heat-resistant souls managed to make our afternoon walk not a solitary one. (although they were far away enough not to have known we were observing them.)


trees that i am friends with, part two

part one is here.

there is a stand of eucalyptus down the street from our house that i have occasion to admire on saturdays and sundays when i walk the dogs at 11 a.m. (yes, it’s scheduled, shut-up.)

but the trees, these particular ones, have taken my fancy, what with their peeling bark that falls to the pavement with a nice cracking sound–loud enough to startle you if you haven’t been paying attention–which happens when your eye has been diverted by the century plant on the right, or one of the dogs rooting around in the dirt, eating god-knows-what.

they frame a distant street, across the chasm of the canyon, that leads straight up and over a hill, disappearing into the blue of the sky, a finger beckoning you to follow (although the street is a dead-end, the views of the ocean at its terminus are quite spectacular, i must show you someday.)

the sun plays with the trunks and branches, the wind weaves its way through drooping leaves, the sound whispery and scratching at your earlobe. it is magical enough to weave a spell around you as you stand there, your mouth agape (well, mine was), dog leashes wrapped around your legs; one headed north, the other south, but you don’t notice, because you’re listening to what the eucalyptus have to tell you.


the palms at 6:02, 6:07, and 6:11 a.m. on may 18, 2012

it’s possible that i’m lying.

we all do. everyday we embellish and expand, omit and conveniently forget the truth.

even these photographs are lies for they tell not the actual truth of the moments in which they were captured (time being the first fact to evaporate into the ether of “it doesn’t matter”).

they’ve been manipulated and saturated, the contrast has been swung to the right while the brightness has been toned down/up, but they come close to the way i saw them for the briefest moment yesterday morning sometime after 6 and before 6:30 while taking the dogs for their morning walk (the dogs on a morning walk is true.)


random notes on nothing

i will admit, in print, that i am not a fan of j.d. salinger’s work.  that little red book of post-pubescent anxiety & revolt (the mao book of quotations for teenagers since 1951.) it seems sacrilegious, doesn’t it?  & yes, of course i read it when i was a teenager, it may have been entertaining then (i liked their names, i remember that; esme, franny, zooey, holden, for god’s sake, they all sounded so connecticut & i guess that was aspirational, you know, to have a name that indicated you were of a class, one that was not yours.)  but i can not tell you a thing about any of the books, not the essence or the  ‘take-away’ feeling; i couldn’t  even lay out a cliff notes version were i forced too (teenagers suffer, there are tears, there is revolt, there is hugging & maybe smoking on the sly, was there sex?  i don’t know & it seems never cared enough to remember.)

there is much to be said for the solitary day spent gardening (in spite of the ache-y muscles the following day.)  there are so many moments, vignettes, words of encouragement (& words of wonder & awe) that are like the little death (la petite mort for you francophiles); it may account for the melancholy that sloshes around your ankles, a broken pipe carrying flora dreams away, that sadness that that moment may not be repeated (or ever feel as sublime.)

i really like the traveler’s insurance tv commercial with the dog & the bone, you may watch it by clicking here.   they’ve come out with a second one that i feel is also very good (& if i were in the market for insurance, i would definitely consider them, kudos to the advertising company that developed these commercials.)  they’re terrific visceral advertising (& beautiful to boot.)

favorite color:  i’ve always said green, but of course that was when i wasn’t saying red or blue or yellow (not to mention all of the million or so variations on those themes.)  i loathe gender-specific responses & the pigeon-holing parents do to make sure their daughters love pink/purple & their boys do not.   & don’t even get me started on all of the companies that insist that those are the colors little girls, but not little boys, should love, love, love (i reserve my deepest disrespect, disregard, disgust for their ignorance & promotion of what is right & what is wrong for little children, for criminy’s sake.)

when i first learned that i could make lavendar by mixing red, blue & white paint together (i believe i was 8 or 9 at the time)  & it was in the basement playroom of my grandmother patrick’s house in springfield, illinois, i was, without hyperbole, ecstatic.    the world turned lavender for me that day (no schadenfreude here, but my god, what a sign, & in retrospect if you’d been reading those kind of signs then, that one would have been a cold splash of water in your sleepy face.)

don’t you miss john denver?  i know, i know what you’re thinking, “robert, you’ve gone too far now, i can’t support you on this, i just can’t, he’s too sweet a singer, too saccharine, just too too too.”  but in his defense, & particularly if you ever grew up in the country, the wide open plains, or those majestic rocky mountains, or the hills & dales of any other landscape sparsely populated, grandly innocent, virgin & unspoiled (& even if you lived in a large metropolis & dreamed of those places,) then you know what i mean when i say his voice captured all of that, a clear brook, the sweet sound of the dinner bell, the fresh air.   the innocence & the heartbreak, the love of life flowed so easily from his blond, blue-eyed-ness (those round wire-framed glasses say it all.)

last night when i was walking the dogs i tried to remember what i’d been reading in the new issue of the atlantic & couldn’t.  oh, i did dig around in the dark cobwebby interiors & dusty corners where neurons & atoms & micro, micro synapses of information are doing whatever it is they do, but nothing.  i even tried to not think about it, hoping by turning my mind to other things (anything) what i wanted to remember would float to the top of my consciousness & “ping,” just like that, what i wanted to retrieve would be at the forefront of the carousel (the lending library carousel, you know) & i would pluck it out & say, “ah, yes, that weighty matter.”  but alas, it was not to be & until i laid my head on my three stacked pillows to read again before drifting off to sleep, & turned to the dog-eared page where i had left off, did i then know why i couldn’t remember:  i had been reading about justin bieber.

<insert deep sigh here>  it’s why sweets are so bad for you; all taste, no nutrition.

there is nothing, particularly in the southern california garden, that for me represents the advent of spring more than the sudden explosion of new rose leaves, fleshy, leathery and bloody, that cordovan red, as perfect as a piece of hand-dipped dark chocolate.

to be continued…


a lack of profundity (intended)

I am drawing no universal truths from today.  It was a Sunday like many other Sundays at our house.  We slept in courtesy of ‘Spring Forward’ (even the dogs were loath to get going, sensing, I believe, that time had made an adjustment in their schedule, normally they are as accurate as Swiss timepieces.)  The sun was already up & shining brightly by the time we were out for the morning walk, fortified by a strong cup of coffee, a little blogging, the front section of the L.A. Times (me, of course, the dogs don’t drink coffee, but they do love the Times & you should see their blog.)

I finally got all things pointing in the right direction & headed over to our local farmer’s market, where I picked up the usual:  a bunch of carrots, two heads of lettuce, fresh garlic (3), a bunch of cilantro, asparagus, a three-pack of strawberries (I did complain about last week’s berries, I didn’t mean to complain, it really was intended as an observation, but I guess it sounded whiny & they gave me a $2.00 discount on today’s purchase & when I demurred they told me not to argue with them–which I promise, I hadn’t been,) 3 pink lady apples, 3 pears (bosc), sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  I considered sugar snap peas, but they were $3.75 per pound which seemed high to me, so I passed.

Back home, M. & I had lunch (wraps & strawberries!) then bundled up the dogs & headed up to Whittier (ugh, the 5 freeway–flowing freely until Firestone, then stop-and-go until we hit the 605) to check out an antique mart, King Richard’s Antiques (for M.’s business) & to meet with the owner who’s putting together a street fair in Whittier this April where M. will be a vendor.

Dogs were only allowed in if carried, so M. went in while I stood outside with Billy & Joey.   Billy is the more outgoing of the two, always open to be petted & fawned over (he’s so soft to the touch, you’d be amazed, & I think he knows how good he feels.)

So soft in fact, that he rivals Jesus Christ, at least in this instance, in his power to demand attention & offer succor to the weary.

King Richard’s was located near a bike/running trail, one obviously well-tended by the city/state with amazing blooming trees, succulents & lavender.

M. finished his business, & then it was my turn to take a quick turn around the store.

One section was eerily lit by a frosted western window that added a note of Los Angeles ‘noir’ to the display, startling me when I realized madam was a mannequin.

But startled or not, I was completely smitten by the light being filtered through the dirt, the ages & the completely tacky 1980s chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.

I stumbled upon several gilt tables reflected in a mirror, that just begged for a photo & it wasn’t until I downloaded today’s visuals that I realized I was standing in 3rd position–gotta dance!

On my way out, I was surprised to see that metallic (the ’80s again!) was making a comeback — at least in Whittier, if not the rest of the Los Angeles basin.

We drove home (605 south to the 91 east to the 5 south) in record time & then the dogs & I went for a short walk, where we stopped to admire the coastline & say a little non-denominational prayer, re: how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot on the globe.

But we turned away from the view & headed home (doggie dinner!) but had to stop to admire the sego palm in bloom & consider its erotic aspects, its fecundity, its ancient, pleistocene ancestry.   That’s it!  Draw your own conclusions (I’m fresh out.)


eos (dawning of an age)

I start each day with the dogs, we work our way up the hill from the house to the roundelay & are usually greeted by Eos as she parts the gates of heaven with her rosy fingers & diadem of white feathers, fluttering & ethereal, preparing the world for the glory of her brother Apollo as he drives his chariot pulling Helios behind illuminating our world in a fiery display of nature and physics and things we can only understand intuitively/naturally.

& it is second by second, minute by minute that her handiwork & beauty are revealed/a conductor cuing the larks & the engines of commerce & the crashing waves/as the sounds, each individual one vies for momentary supremacy.  color radiates visually & so dramatically that it has an aural quality.

The dogs taught me that.  That color has a sound & a smell & a tactile quality. dawn tastes of tangerines & peppers; smells of dew & rabbits; feels slick, a coating of oil on rain-slicked slurry, silky, satiny smooth.

And as it gets lighter, more detail is put into relief against the shadowy valleys & sun-kissed (not trite, but true) mountain-tops, when they sing of purple mountains’ majesty you can almost believe that Casper David Friedrich is planted there in front of you with his easel & his pots of paint/a palette of purples/oranges/violets/whites/blues swirling in the misty vales, sparkling in the dewy dawn light.

And as the dogs and I turn away from our easterly promenade we catch a moment (a heart beat) of brilliance slipping up the northern ridge & you do have to wonder & marvel at the brilliance of nature & of our world.  It’s uplifting & maddening all at once–that man can be so amazing & so stupid & that power does corrupt & that love is everywhere you look.

The palm grove stands sentinel on our northern flank, an agenda of their own (grow taller, straighter, bloom, seed, die) leading us around our community, shepherds & scouts & soothsayers.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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