naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Coronado Butterflies

A couple weeks ago I enjoyed a "Rails and Trails" local Sierra Club daytrip to the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. We took the train from Los Angeles to Goleta, hiked about 3.5 miles of sidewalks along the roadways of Goleta to the Preserve, enjoyed a few hours there, then hiked back (stopping for snacks/dinner along the way) to catch the train, and so home by that evening.

Seeing the coast from the train to Goleta was lovely, and of course the thousands and thousands of butterflies were so beautiful. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous trip.

I managed to capture some (admittedly slightly wobbly) video of some of the clusters of butterflies.

Carrizo Plain De-Fencing and Exploring

This weekend, I took part in a volunteer work-day at Carrizo Plain National Monument, getting rid of old barbed-wire fence on Saturday, and then exploring on my own on Sunday. It was a great weekend!

I took some photos today as I explored... I've posted them as a photoset on Flickr.

For more info about Carrizo, please see:

official BLM website for Carrizo Plain

Friends of Carrizo: Volunteer Opportunities

Nature Conservancy webpage about Carrizo Plain

Wikipedia page about Carrizo Plain
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
... and nature decided to mark the day by making me sneeze my head off.

Maybe she's ticked off because I haven't finished reading that book about peak oil I'd planned to?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Solitudes: Forest Piano - composed, arranged and performed by John Herberman

I've been listening to this off and on today at work. It's wildlife and nature sounds and lovely piano. The birdsongs are really pretty and the piano is very lyrical... it takes my mindset to a nice mellow green growing nurtured peaceful foresty sort of place.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
I'm really glad the Caltech community managed to prevent the big metal sculpture from bisecting Beckman Lawn.

The sky is amazingly beautiful right now, graduated blues so vibrant they almost have a taste, with clouds chasing each other across, here and there spatterings of raindrops. The foothills are brightening green to the north, and the tops of the mountains shrouded in grey-white cloudbanks. The breeze across Beckman Lawn has a scent I can only describe as "spring sunshine over fresh grass and awakening earth" and it's simply fabulous.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
...a purring cat

...Traditional Medicinals herbal tea

...the feel of yarn sliding between my fingers

...a smooth crochet hook

...handknitted socks (Roommate makes the most comfortable feet-shaped socks I've ever worn using Plymouth Yarn's Sockotta)

...comfy dry Birki-clogs for tramping about in puddles without getting my feet wet (they're a dozen years old and get worn every rainy season)

...a relatively calm drive to work (surface streets from Burbank to the 134, skipping the 5 entirely) in a dependable car

...a cinnamon-raisin bagel for breakfast, and a blueberry bagel for brunch

...comfy Birkenstock sandals to wear in the office (that reminds me, I need to seal the cork on them again, and get them re-soled)

...a soft mock-turtleneck with printed leaves all over it

...an autumn walk under a cheery umbrella

...water lilies blossoming, surrounded by ripples from raindrops on the water

...being able to see my breath in the chill air

...shining water droplets clinging to the underside of agapanthus leaves

...a cup of warm chicken chili soup from Broad Cafe for lunch

...the fresh smell of earth under drizzling rain

...seven years of working at ITS

...and a snug cozy home waiting for me.

ETA: And online traffic speed maps to figure out the best way home.

ETA later: And wow, homemade chicken soup with onions and carrots when I get home. What an amazing day.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
When I was young, we dwelt in a vale
  By a misty fen that rang all night,
And thus it was the maidens pale
I knew so well, whose garments trail
  Across the reeds to a window light.

The fen had every kind of bloom,
  And for every kind there was a face,
And a voice that has sounded in my room
Across the sill from the outer gloom.
  Each came singly unto her place,

But all came every night with the mist;
  And often they brought so much to say
Of things of moment to which, they wist,
One so lonely was fain to list,
  That the stars were almost faded away,

Before the last went, heavy with dew,
  Back to the place from which she came--
Where the bird was before it flew,
Where the flower was before it grew,
  Where bird and flower were one and the same.

And thus it is I know so well
  Why the flower has color, the bird has song.
You have only to ask me, and I can tell.
No, not vainly there did I dwell,
  Nor vainly listen all the night long.


We learn the most amazing things when we just... listen.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I thought was true.


I want to put some commentary with these poems, because they're saying so much to me, but I'm not quite sure how to put my thoughts into words.

Sequoia

Sep. 19th, 2004 08:46 pm
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
This was written back when I was in high school. My parents and I came to California for the first time, and on that rather amazingly busy trip, we stopped at a few groves of sequoias. I don't know how else to properly introduce this poem, other than to say that forests and wild spaces deeply affect me. But then, you probably already knew that.

Sequoia
by Adele Shakal


I
saw them
ancient, enduring
sentinels to the ages
shooting upwards, branches lifted
to the sky
unchanging through the aeons.
It was then that i
realized
how very small, of such inconsequence,
my little life and its experiences
truly are.
Simply the blink
of an eye and
i
will be gone,
with few to know
that i passed this way.
But Them -
Their senses
have stood witness
to the centuries -
could They but speak to us,
that we might possess
a bit of Their wisdom.
And yet...
i feel that, could They speak,
Their deep chuckles would roll
like thunder, across the hillsides,
as They spoke, with one Voice,
explaining that, aye,
They remember aeons,
and aye,
Their lofty limbed spires lift
ever upwards to the heavens,
but telling that we each
have our parts
in this ultimate play,
and that their lifetimes are,
as ours,
but a blink
in the eye
of the
eternal
Universe.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
Remember how I mentioned that if you think my poetry sucks, to just skim right past? Yeah.

This one was written on August 25th.

Yesterday Morning
by Adele Shakal

Yesterday morning
I was awakened by the blue-grey lightening dawn,
by the calls of scampering thieves and
sheen-blue-black dinosaurs' descendants' chirps
and flutters, the early morning crew
at Lodgepole campground.

Yesterday morning
I watched the sun rise
past cragged rocks and tall spires
to bathe golden blessed warmth
across dappled ridges, towering pines
shining gold-green in the crisp air,
bright dome of clear blue over all.
So beautiful. So wild, so free.

Today I've traded, by exchange of miles,
curves of mountain roads and stretches of highway,
for a return to my city life.
My morning will start with an alarm clock.
Somehow even a soft bed and a warm shower
and a steady job
do not seem an even exchange.

I yearn for the air.

Why must the choice be all one or the other?

I remind myself
the mountains are not all so far
as those with the towering sentinel redwoods.
There are beauties so very close.
Trips to remember the wild's call and blessings
need not be treks I can seldom afford.
Sometimes one must trade for snatches of melody
in greater number
rather than one deafening burst
of symphony.

Modern living is a compromise.

Yesterday morning
I watched the sun rise,
crisp morning
mountain air,
trees soaring,
water burbling,
wind brushing at my face.
Today, I begin planning
for my next beautiful wild morning,
or sunset, or stargaze, or simple walk,
free and surrounded
by the world greater than me,
greater than mankind.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
A journal excerpt from Chris Highland, in the introduction of Meditations of John Muir - Nature's Temple.

"The thought is constant -- go to the church of Nature. Let the tired and worn out go. Go! Drop it and Go! Go to the beauty of life that is free and open to everyone. Go and just be there in it, as a part of it."
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring dawning)
These past few days, spring really has been in the air. Moist soil and green plants budding and the promise of growth are all around me. This makes me very, very happy on a deep level.

I'm a few days late, but happy Beltane, everyone! It really is a magic time of year, the flipside of the time in autumn when the boundary between reality and the dark spiritual world thins to let the past through... these days, that same boundary around reality thins to let new futures begin, stretching into the light.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I love spring!

California poppies are blossoming along roadsides, scattering brilliant orange-gold seemingly everywhere I look. They're beautiful! And there are a few other wildflowers that are blossoming bright green-tinged yellow and a pale white; I haven't figured out what they are yet.

I'm putting in new marigolds, lobelia, and a new white geranium to augment the pink and salmon geraniums and white/fuschia Martha Washington that have blossomed all through the winter and early spring on my porch. The albino, striped, and odd-colored succulents in their terracotta strawberry pot are doing very well, and I think maybe even the rescued dwarf carnation plant that's barely held on for months now might be finding its way to health... it looks like it has a few buds forming, too, which is more than can be said for the other two I rescued at the same time from the discount bin. Oh, and the last surviving Gerbera daisy has tried putting up a few new leaves, which is very startling since it's outlived its two bretheren by a full year now.

Most of my spring bulbs (daffodils, narcissus, grape hyacinth, crocus, and a handful of different tulips and their relations) have finished blossoming except the iris bulbs that have happily put up their leaves with no hint of when they'll decide to blossom... and the amaryllis is startling the heck out of me by shooting up a bud that's about to open. That plant's been on my front porch for at least a year and a half now, occasionally teasing me with new leaves, and it's only now taken the idea in it's little bulby brain to do something. Wild!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
I meant to write about this before Christmas, but things got busy. Oh, well. Most of the snowy weather is yet to come for most places anyway, so this is OK.

When I was little, my parents and I lived in a house at the back edge of a new housing development. At the edges of Indianapolis' sprawling suburbs, developers plowed over fields and planted houses, so behind our house was still farmland. There was a small creek running past the back of our property, and a row of tall trees, mostly buckeyes, and then a big field, with overgrown and tree lined fence rows on all the other three sides, bounded by more fields.

Somewhere back in there was also an old pond, with random junk laying about and tossed into it, and a run-down house, and an old barn or two a few fields away. I remember there being a broken mirror or two in the upper level of the house, so you could see light reflecting oddly through the window opening if you looked at the house from just the right angle. Outside the house, there was a tree that grew very long glistening blackish-brown seed pods. We always joked that that was a witch's house, and that she had died or left and the remnants of her presence in the house made the tree outside grow witches' fingernails, those marvelous seed pods.

Dad and I used to go for long walks in the fields and fence rows in the fall, after the first frost and the harvest was over. The field behind us grew corn some years, but I most remember walking with Dad through the stubble of brown soybean stalks, finding here and there a fuzzy pod of dried soybeans.

When it snowed, we went on Woozle Hunts.

Anyone who has read the Winnie The Pooh stories will remember woozles. There is a lovely story about Pooh tracking a woozle in the snow, walking around and around in a great circle about a large tree, and being wonderfully startled when the tracks of the woozle are joined by a second one! A bit later, Piglet joins him, and they track the two woozles together until they notice that the two woozles have been joined by a wizzle!

Dad and I would bundle up and go tromping off across the field, wandering in any direction that seemed interesting. We'd see how the edges of the creek were freezing, little crystalline sheets of ice trying to infiltrate the flowing water. We'd see how the winter weather was affecting the plants, look for raccoon prints in the mud and gravel next to the creek, hunt for scratched trees marking a bobcat's territory, look for prints of rabbits running from a fox, search for the small trails of squirrels and the tiny trails of mice. We'd try to decipher the story told by whatever tracks and droppings we found on the snow. We'd see ice melting a bit in the sunshine, hanging from tree branches, and listen to the creak of branches rubbing against one another in the cold, and the rattle of dried grasses and weeds rustling in the wind.

Sometimes we'd make tracks intended to confuse anyone else who might happen upon them... walking forward for a while, then walking backwards, putting our feet into the tracks we'd already made, and then leaping onto a log or a rock and jumping off in another direction. That way, anyone trying to follow us would have, in theory anyway, have followed the track until it simply stopped, a mystery in the snow.

We'd spend a good chunk of the afternoon wandering around, until our feet got really cold and the tip of my nose was bright red from the chill. Then we'd head home for hot chocolate and a warm dinner... I think Mom usually made soup or stew or something else hearty, but honestly, I don't remember much of those dinners. I remember how pink and frosty my cheeks felt, and how strange and wondrous the first wash of warm air from the utility room would be as we stepped in, closed the garage door behind us, and started stripping out of wet boots, snow pants, scarves, hats, coats, sweaters, double thicknesses of socks...

One year, on Christmas Eve afternoon, Mom and Dad let me ask my friend Irene on one of our Woozle Hunts. They had to explain how she'd need all of her cold weather clothing, and I think her Mom brought her over to our house. I don't remember how she got home... but her Mom called mine sometime later and said something like, "Oh, I understand now! She fell right to sleep! That never happens on Christmas Eve!"

:-)

Keeping warm, hiking around for hours, even at a leisurely pace, and trudging little booted feet through drifts of snow... well, it was the perfect way to both enjoy the natural wonder of winter and to wear out excited little girls.

Woozle Hunts are magical. Thanks, Dad and Mom...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
My orange gerbera daisy is blossoming, and the jade tree plants are thinking about it, too. Must have been the rain a few weeks back that gave them the idea.

It's very windy today, which means the sky is a particular shade of interesting November blue, but it also means that the dry air has a lot of dust and other allergen-like things in it. The gusts are strong enough not just to whip leaves and branches loose and tumbling, shattering across the landscape, but also to push cars around on the roads, reminiscent of an invisible hand tipping a matchbox car a bit to and fro, to see if there are any loose bits inside. I'm glad I have surface street options rather than the freeway to get to work and home; I was only on the freeway briefly this morning.

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