Posts Tagged ‘landscape


eucalyptus, interrupt us

there are times when we must let the tree speak for itself.


winter light (notes on snow)

it’s not that i’m not used to it.  i’ve spent more of my life with it than without it, & since it’s been out of my life, i haven’t ever given it much thought.  it’s as if it may have never existed except as an alternate life, it is that far away in my memory.  but even those memories that do linger are not weighted with adverse meaning.   when i do think of it, or encounter it, what i remember is the crunch, the sparkle, the light & the many shades of white, how subtle its color tone is, how varied its texture, the making of hard candy:  poured onto a linoleum-topped kitchen table to cool, before cracking with a hammer & put into multi-colored tins, a gift.

the way i t changes the landscape & changes the way the landscape is used.  you walk up to the tree a man, & leave a rabbit.  you burrow into it, a rabbit, & leave a man.  when i was younger, the first deep fall, the first significant accumulation was a call to play; forts were made, blocks of it were shaped from a cardboard box (until it became too soggy to hold its rectangle) & stacked one upon the other, igloos without roofs (or perhaps covered with the occasional blanket removed from the linen closet on the sly) or the drifts of it would be deep enough to carve out a cave, the dog following behind you as you perspired in your fleece lined eared cap, scarf, one-piece suit that repelled moisture, gloves linked to the sleeve end with metal clips & springy elastic (snap!), boots laced up or galoshes locked with their clasps pulled tight across your ankles; long underwear.  how long you could stay outside, with it, time did stop as there was no sense of reality, it was a winter wonderland (i can think of no better words & feel no shame in using such a trite phrase.)

much work is associated with it too.  the heft & weight of it different each time it made its appearance; those big soft flakes or the hard horizontal pellets, the dusting, an amount that was still acceptably navigable, the scrape of shovels, plows, the “hellos” from neighbor to neighbor as each worked their way from the stoop to the street & you’d meet at each others driveway to discuss anything but the work, not wanting to show how hard this part of life really was to each other (each of you panting, puff clouds escaping with every word, every breath.)   & standing on the shoveled (or plowed) accumulation, surveying your domain, the shovel, a flag, with its inelegant scraped & dented end planted atilt next to you as you caught your breath, claiming this work for your world, the king of it for that moment.

& the sleep that come with it.  those drifts of cotton, the winter morning peeking through the curtains, it’s sharp light bouncing up off it, a kid on a trampoline flipping through the glass, head over teacup, & landing, warmly deceitful, it could not be that cold.  you lay in it, stretched out, an angel in the moment of waking, quick to jump up and spell your name before the day starts.  snow.


through a lens, darkly

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.


welcome spring

We all bow to the coming of spring.  It brings with it the excitement, anticipation & joy of passing through the darkness of winter; its rain, snow, winds now (hopefully) behind us.  Birds trill their welcome song.

Sunrise slowly spreads its warming fingers across the cool valley, reaching, stretching (a yoga position ‘greet the sun’) radiating good cheer.

What was indistinct just seconds ago, starts to emerge, the magic of an etch-a-sketch limning the hills & coastline, it’s graphite gravelly & raspy against the screen of your viewpoint.

The heat of the sun rolling up the backside of the mountains in the distance, pushing the chill of the night ever westward, scrumbling the blanket of night to the foot of the bed of the earth.

What promises have you made today?  What secrets have you revealed?

Spring cleaning, whisk away the cobwebs of winter, the heaviness of early darkness & late light in the morning.  Brush the hair away from your face, stop hiding.  It’s dawn.

Stand tall against the light, bathe in its warmth & thrill to its rejuvenating touch: blossom, flower, seed, put your arm around a friend, a lover, for god’s sake, a stranger.  Reach out, reach out, reach out.

Slough off the death of winter, reject it.   Rise up in friendship, in love, in kindness, in deep devotion to life.


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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