Sunday, March 26, 2006

part two of those shelves of imaginary jars of memory

Water based contents:

a sixth jar: the green ocean stretching out to all horizons from the small ship, which has for weeks been avoiding storms at sea. Sunlight at last, and suddenly--a whole flock of flying fish, glittering, silver, amazing. I was five years old.

Jar seven: a canyon in Baja California. I have been walking a long time with friends, stumbling over the red-orange rocks, my legs aching. As we come over yet another hill, the creek is there, and has made rounded, smooth pools in the stone, carved by centuries of water. Hot day, cool blue green pools. And not too far away, hot springs bubbling from the red earth.

The eighth jar: carrying my then small first born I go walking through the acreage where my cabin sits at the top corner. It is spring, the honey scented bells of the madrone flowers are dropping from the trees, making little pools of whiteness under the red barked limbs. The trilliums, three cornered, surprising, light up the darkness of the woods. I am following the sound of water, knowing where one spring bubbles from the roots of a century old baylaurel tree, but hearing water sounds further on, mirrored by the water sounds of the mating ravens. The raven sound is like water being poured from narrow jugs. My baby smiles at the sound of it. As I stop for breath I notice the ferns thickly clustered at the steep hillside near my path, and there I see the pure, clear water gushing over white stone.
The bluegreen bit of rock I pick up is a bird point, a tiny arrowhead. I sit a long time thinking about the hands that made that point, and the families that walked here, and paused to sip the clear, sweet water flowing on and on.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

imagined jars of remembered landscapes

My grandmother, my father's mother, kept a cellar full of jars of preserves, pickles, jams, and other beautiful and glowing delicacies, neatly labeled and set on shelves.
The cellar itself was a strange place, dark and full of delicate spiders, but that's a different story.

I woke up the other morning thinking "what wonderful things I have seen in my life". And wishing there were some way to keep those moments, those glimpses, those bits of landscape and weather, so that I might take them out once more, and watch the changing of light and shadows. A list isn't a careful cellar; words are not glass jars--but I thought perhaps the list needed to be done.

Glimpse one: the light through the leaves of a white flowering lilac hedge. A very early memory; the hedge was my secret hiding place when I was 2 and a half or 3. (one of the virtues of having moved frequently throughout my childhood is that I can date memories with some ease, knowing where I was during a given time period of a year or two).

Tumbling the jars in no discernable order, glimpse two: Two white tailed deer bounding through dry, scrubby brush in the hillsides somewhere in the high desert. Beyond them the purple mountains, and a stretch of wildflower blazed spring, so orange-red the sky itself seemed purple blue.

A third jar: the beautiful, amazing blue of the Pacific held in a half circle of coral reef, on a tiny island that is merely a dot on the map (it is 3 miles by 5 miles, I think; Wake Island). There were terrible things there as well--left from the second world war; ships from which soldiers had jumped to their deaths, holes in which people had hidden and fought. But what comes to mind is the clear water, and the white shells scattered on the whiter sand, and the walk beside my father.

Jar Four: a wood on an English hillside, mostly dark holly trees. The ground carpeted with smoke blue bluebells, a sort of scilla that won't grow for me where I live now (the Spanish sort does, but not the English). Tender blue under the dark trees--and suddenly, a pheasant, golden orange, flying up and out of the woods to the nearby stretch of golden/green meadows.

And the fifth: another stretch of woods, these of mixed trees whose names I didn't know--some fir like trees, some maples, perhaps--but most of all, the violets carpeting the shaded ground. Deep purple violets and some bits of yellow violets. And the young saplings that I would climb, and think of as tree-horses, carrying me to a place of dreams.

Five jars. There are more. A second post soon.