8 ways of the wind

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. ~ Khalil Gibran

3674743607_fa24957a36_o
Image: View from the Dupont Plaza of men walking in Hurricane Betsy: Miami, Florida – 1965

I saw a spiderling today. Or maybe it was just a tiny adult, who knows. I will watch to see if it sticks around and grows any bigger.

The sun is going down earlier now, and it’s almost August. I am trying to figure out how many ways I can write about wind, and it turns out there are many. Like…the wind is shaking the neighbor’s tree, but I can only see it move through the slats of my fence. It’s pretty because the sun is hitting it, and it sparkles like hidden treasure.

It turns out there are lots of ways to write about wind.

I would have not spotted the pink blooms of my Lamium if I hadn’t been watching the wind move the leaves around. My ugly green plastic water jug is now on its side, tipped over by the wind. But I won’t go out to pick it up as my sliding glass door is broken, and I might not be able to close it again. The motto now is “don’t fix it unless it’s really broken.” Life is too short for home improvement. In fact, I think a famous woman writer said that you should write and not clean house. I’m beginning to like this woman.

It turns out there are a lot of ways to write about wind.

As the sun sets, the silhouette of blowing leaves throws shadows on my blinds, and I look for patterns like a child does with clouds. I mostly see old faces, though, not rabbits.

It turns out there are a lot of ways to write about wind.

Wind is always a verb, but noun wind whips up my hair on the subway line.

Wind is always wondering if those tall branches are going to break.

Wind is looking up at the same tall branches and crying, because it’s so beautiful but it’s always the same.

Wind only makes noise when it moves things. In the tree it whispers, in the door frame it creaks.

Only when the crow’s wings beat against the wind it returns the favor by giving the wind a voice.

Spider

Here’s an interesting thing about L.A. – it’s overrun with black widow spiders. I could find you one on the street in 10 minutes. ~Dominic Monaghan

I have a spider under my bathroom sink that I think lives there, or at least close by. Not sure where she’s getting her food, or what type of spider she is, but I’m letting her live there because she doesn’t seem to want to bite me. I haven’t got close enough to her to see what her back looks like, but she seems to be getting bigger so I’m wondering if she’s going to have some spiderlings. I suspect that she’s living in my wall or within the hollow sink somewhere, but I’m not sure.

She’s a magical disappearing spider, though, because as I ponder her, and then look away for even a second, she is gone.

Alone in the daylight

14775680283_7a09f85080_o
Image from page 164 of “Emmy Lou : her book & heart” (1903) (source: Flickr)

It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I think the art of solitude is really something wonderful. If you ever get to explore being alone for long periods of time, I highly recommend it. Though we are social creatures, I think being alone teaches you not to be lonely.

I remember as a child that the summer days would move by slowly and easily. I would sit with my childhood friends on their porch, vine tomato and salt shaker in hand, and pass the day playing until it got dark. When I got home I would stink of sun, sweat, and be covered in freckles, and there would be dirt in my hair and on my knees. I wouldn’t bathe, I would just crawl into bed, make the sheets dusty, and sleep like the dead with no dreams.

This weekend I chose solitude, as the 4th of July was upon us in ‘merica. I thought I would miss out on all the socializing, but it’s passing without much notice from me. I get to hear all the sounds of it; sparklers, backyard BBQs, laughter. For once I decided to just let the days happen, and it’s pretty cool how one moment just blends into the next.

I did get “bored,” and so when I did I thought of ways to get “un-bored.” But it turns out there’s not much difference between the two, it’s just in the second scenario you invent. I went to buy some plants and lingered a lot in the nursery, gazing on all the blooms. I picked out a yellow Dahlia and a Lamium, and when the sun was behind the Catalpa, I planted them in containers that had been empty for a long time.

The wind has picked up again, and thought it says it’s 80F in my back room, I am cold and wearing a sweatshirt. Grey is lounging in his big bed, and I am keeping the parrots company in their room as I write. If you’ve had parrots as long as I have, you have to learn to be creative in the parrot entertainment business – you learn how to keep the parrot parent (me) from not going mad and still give your cherished pets the time they need outside their cages.

I’ve learned to tolerate the sound of the poorly-made door in the bird room banging over and over again as the wind comes through the window and pushes the door around in its frame. Willie, my oldest bird, starts to whistle, and I say softly to him “You’re singing and I’m trying to write…what am I supposed to do with that?” And he is suddenly silent. No yelling or putting him back in his cage, just an intelligent request directed at a 28-year old cockatiel that he seemed to understand. He is not sad and does not take it personally; writing resumes.

 

Nowhere but here

bewickswren

There is freedom within
There is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

~Counting Crows “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

The ground is dry and it feels like winter was never here. My little evergreens did nothing, and my shade plants are struggling. I look into the trench my gardener made for planting and I wonder “why bother?” It’s more interesting to see how the landscape plays out, literally.

My view never really changes, though what’s outside does. The holes my dog has dug in the yard have become part of the landscape, and on occasion I see the head of a ground squirrel poking its head out of a hole and looking around. Sometimes it will poke its head out as far as it can and I imagine it thinking “Success! I’ve managed to conquer a backyard and no one has tried to kill me yet! It’s a good day!” Yes, most people in my neighborhood try to kill these squirrels because of all the effort they’ve put into their lawns. My advice is, don’t put all the effort into your lawn. Who cares? And I hate to tell you, the ground squirrels will come back. So, I’ve decided to let them live in my backyard. At least something is living and thriving in this world.

We found that some wrens have made nests in the gigantic Eucalyptus in our neighbor’s yard, two tiny wren apartments in nature’s version of a high-rise. Tiny Bewick’s wrens – bug and fly eaters** and all-around little badasses. Little birds with a big voice and and a wonderfully snobby tail to go along with it. Dust bath: check! Flit along the top of the friendly neighbor fence: check! Terrorize moths (and eat them) underneath the struggling Eureka lemon tree: check! What a grand life. Immune to the trivialities of humans, just enjoying life and avoiding stupid fucking outdoor cats.

The sun will go down soon, and the wind will pick up again. During the interludes of sun and no wind I am content to sit with my dog on the little concrete walls in the backyard, feel the sun on my face and hope for a glimpse of bird, any bird. Even though my dog (Grey) is content to lay on his dog bed in the sun for the most part, the temptation is great when he sees I’m at eye level and comes over for a pat. This is enough.

**Bewick’s Wrens eat the eggs, larvaepupae, and adults of insects and other small invertebrates. Common prey animals include bugs, beetles, bees and wasps, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, and spiders (source: allaboutbirds.org).

Jay and Silent Bob

The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I keep resubscribing to WP as it’s the only sense of self I feel I can hold onto, and even that is fleeting. But it’s important to me. Milan Kundera once said “Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.” How true this is, but we must keep writing. Even though the world is too loud, we still need to keep talking.

I made a couple of friends a few weeks ago, two California Scrub Jays I’ve named Jay and Silent Bob. I named Jay his name because he is feisty and fearless, though not clueless like the real Jay from “Clerks.” Once Jay figured out that I was the giver of raw almonds, he started getting closer and closer to the window where he would see me every morning. Lately he’s been turning his head sidewise so a) he can see me better and b) he can silently demand I hop to it in the almond department. He’s absolutely stunning — the true blues and greys in his feathering I’m sure make him quite the spring contender for the ladies.

I started to worry that I was creating little almond addicts, so I’ve been trying to mix it up when I throw the nuts outside. I don’t want the mess of a bird feeder, so I’m keeping it real with targeted throws. However, what I’ve learned is that bird feeding is actually helpful at times when birds need the most energy, such as temperature extremes in winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted (source: The Humane Society of the US). Birds need less of our help in summer, except for maybe a bird bath if it’s hot.

Silent Bob keeps his distance. He perches on the telephone lines farther away. He still stares, but waits patiently. If I was to anthropomorphize, I would say he’s speaking directly to my empathy, and I’m a huge sucker.

 

Monday October 24th, 2016

 

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

— Edward Hirsch

I sat outside today on my porch, waiting for a hot flash to pass, letting the cool wind hit the sweat under my Black Flag sweatshirt. In a span of a few minutes, I saw a drug dealer straddle a driveway in his car, then go sit angrily on the stairs in a breezeway, waiting for his money to show up. I could see him through the broken window of the home he waited at. After waiting a while in frustration, he then got back into his shitty Toyota (he works on his own engine, I can tell), and as he sat down, he pulled out a bottle of liquor. I’m sure he took a swig before he pulled away. I half-expected him to return with the rest of the liquor and a lighter to torch the place, but that’s where my head goes in watching such things.

I started to get cold. The family next door always seems to be doing laundry, dragging their basket to and from the car every day. It was barely raining and a woman had her umbrella out.

My neighbor’s old dog watches the scene with me, peering through the slats of their house like a eery ghost.

I was walking my dog up my hill earlier today and I saw a couple get out of their car. The man held his girlfriend’s hand and they shuffled these tiny steps across the street. I think they live in one of the illegal mother-in-law cottages across the way. I imagined he was just bringing her back from getting an abortion, that he keeps her hidden away, impregnates her, and then makes her get abortions, over and over again, and that’s why they were walking so slow. This is the crazy truth about my brain, that I make this shit up to entertain myself.

The sky was beautiful tonight, all grey with hints of white, and crows and ravens you can only capture a silhouette of with your camera, flying south. I’m not even going to try. At 5 pm I couldn’t tell if the rain was falling or the leaves of the Sycamores were rustling, turns out it was both.

Our cages

It is a matter of shame that in the morning the birds should be awake earlier than you. — Abu Bakr

My parrots are an allegory for my life. The entire time I have had them, I’ve given them what I could: Love, devotion, medical care, beautiful homes (cages), and life partners.

However, as the rains begin fall and it’s breeding season for the type of birds I have, I can’t help but think that their anguish of being stuck in a cage and wanting to fly free and breed is similar to how I feel about my life. I feel like there’s a door there and I never open it. Every turn is just another turn in the cage, a life compartmentalized with all the responsibility that I’ve heaped upon myself, but not wanting to let go of my self-imposed ties because of some sort of internal ethic. Listening to the parrots in the baby monitor as the sun rose used to be a welcoming alarm clock, and now it’s just Groundhog Day.

And then I realized that I had all the control and that I should just begin. Someone once said to me that good things can happen to you if you just clear a path. That’s code for don’t retreat into darkness, stay open to the light. Interesting that all the good advice has nature encoded into it.

I’m listening to the Gymnopédies by Satie: the keys fall, it sounds like rain, and then it sounds like dancing, and it’s quieting the parrots.

Georgia’s face is so old: her soft dog eyes and long white snout look like snow and mud.

Shadows of tiny birds appear for a moment in the light of the window shade, and then are gone.

Image: “The Narrow Path” by rabiem22 on Flickr.