The dharma talk by Jane yesterday was on trees.  I’ve always thought I’d like to be a tree, just stand rooted, receiving nutrients and information from the ground and air, receiving the changing air, but after Jane spoke, and we went outside to root, I felt that yes, I like stillness, and I also like movement.  I moved my feet up and down and side to side. I’m not a tree.

We came back into the church and divided into groups of three to discuss our relationship with trees.

One woman prefers the city and has no relationship with trees.  The other loves to walk barefoot to her cabin in the woods. I shared my love of trees and a time when a tree physically reached out to comfort me.

I was sitting on our front step crying.  At Scout-a-rama a few years before, our sons had each received a redwood sprout about six inches tall.  Planted in one pot and then a bigger one, these sprouts had continued to grow until one was about six feet tall and next to the step.  As I cried, I felt a branch lean in and stroke my back. Empathy from a tree – yes!

It’s why I thought of starting a business where neighbors would gather before a tree is cut.  We’ve had to remove about twenty trees from our property over the years. They became diseased and had to go and each time it’s a loss, and certainly a change. Recently we lost an oak to disease. Our other oaks have now been given the equivalent of immunotherapy to boost their resistance so they can fight off the disease. Sometimes I feel the information between them disseminating through their roots. We share relationship, trees and me.

Trees absorb water and like a fountain spray it in the air.  When some of our huge pines had to come out, suddenly our basement was flooding with water. We had to put in a French drain.  I read that planting trees could solve the problems of climate change, but where I live the fear of fire means people are cutting down trees.  As in everything, balance is required.

I was also struck yesterday by Jane’s point that a mango will never grow on an oak tree.  That image gives me permission to settle more firmly into the ground I am.

After the talk, Karen, Jane, and I went to Limantour Beach, and saw two seals, and multitudes of pelicans and gulls. As we walked, we heard, though didn’t see, the Snowy Plover that are nesting and protected right now. After awhile, we found a sheltered place in the dunes to sit. 

One woman still has her mother’s ashes. Her mother never learned to swim but loved to watch the ocean waves. Where would her ashes find comfort now? It seems a topic of conversation these days – ashes. We decide to do a field trip to Fernwood Cemetery located near where I live. They offer options. Jane thinks she would like a place people could visit. I feel my brother’s ashes are happily galloping in the ocean. I think I want a variety of places but especially that. As much as I think of being a tree, I like fluidity.

Where we sat, a group of children came and played nearby.  As I sit here now, aware of grasses and trees, rocks, and sand, life moving through fingers and bones, I pray we protect our children, all children, every child on the planet, in every way we can, and that includes caring for grasses and trees.

In her talk, Jane suggested we each choose a quality we want to manifest right now. My quality is Peace!

Grasses in the dunes

A Moment

I rise at 4:45.  Tiger wants to go out.  All is silent, no wind, only a wrap of fog.  Light comes and birds begin to call and the boom of the fog horn pours through.  

I’m on my way to Muir Beach, then up the coast to Pt. Reyes Station for a dharma talk on trees and then a walk on the beach with two friends.

This moment seems a place to put words in a bin and roll them to the curb.

Silence rolls through my bones.  Fog rests, and even as I type, it moves, and the ridge begins to reveal. I see another layer of trees.


Chief Marin

The Mill Valley marsh near where I live was saved because the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse lives here.  I was strolling along the marsh today enjoying the water, egrets, and plants: cordgrass, saltgrass and pickleweed when my friend Will bicycled up.  Will was born here almost fifty years ago and equals Google in his array of knowledge.   

I thought I knew the area as regards our native people, the Coast Miwok, but today I learn I’m near a  midden where Chief Marin lived. The discarded clam shells are known to be from his time because that particular variety of clam no longer exists here in the bay.  Will tells me where to find the midden and I do.  

I also learn that the Army Corps of Engineers is looking into solutions for the problem of flooding that’s occurring because of climate change.  The proposal is to remove concrete walls and replace them with nature’s filtering system – cordgrass, pickleweed, and saltgrass. That will give us 50 to 100 years.

I love that nature gives us answers we need.  She’s shining brightly today, and inside and out, I refresh on finding what I need right here where I live.   

Discarded clam shells in a midden in Marin

Reflecting on the Gifts of Living

Last night the half moon increased the gold in its light as it moved across the darkening, then, black clear sky.  This morning fog rests momentarily on the ridge It dips down into the valley as though licking a spoonful of sweet before it dissolves.

I watch and understand transition, embrace and release as I dip and sip this moving change of form, this transformation of matter to air.  I appreciate the gift in not knowing when that final sip will come.

Yesterday Marlene and I took the train from San Rafael to Santa Rosa.  It’s called a Smart train which is ironic since it’s path is too short to be of much use to commuters who sit stopped on the freeway as the train moves along passing tidal ponds, pools, and marsh filled with parent and baby birds.  

It’s a landscape of aliveness, and aliveness sparks inside the train too, as separate lives unite in moving along past hills, trees, parking lots, businesses, and homes.   As seniors we have special pricing and seats, and I appreciate that as I sit erect, representing youth in maturity, as garbed in my years, I could be wearing diamonds, silk, velvet, and lace, rather than sandals, sweater and pants.  My spine stacks erect, wisdom represented in the grace of unknowing aligned. 

We exit the train and walk, turning this way and that, to a restaurant Marlene found on-line when she Googled patio seating.  We arrive to learn the outside seating is full.

Well, there is an advantage to the look of disappointment on faces our age so we are quickly ushered to a private garden where leaves are brushed off a small table to be replaced with cloth napkins, water, tableware, and bread.  Our attentive waiter brings us all we need, including a finale of cannoli as delicate and airy as the fog I view now.

At the table, Marlene hands me a copy of the poem “What the Living Do” by Marie Howe.  She offers it as support for my brother’s passing. I wait to read it until I get home as I prefer not to show emotion in public.

Home, I read and finish with:

“I am living.  I remember you.”

Sipping Within


Noticing Smaller Paths

Yesterday I walked to a friend’s house. I usually walk through the park aware of destination. Yesterday I was stunned to see, truly see the path to the park. I didn’t even walk all the way into the park, too absorbed with all there was to see and be, so I walked partway in, sat, walked back. Today I think of veins, the teeny-tiniest ones, each filled with journey and path.


A place to sit

Crossing a Bridge

Holy, Holy, Holy

This morning I took Steve to the 6:00 Airporter and walked along the marsh. Morning photos speak of peace.

Sunrise over Strawberry

A Willet

The tidal path – willets in flight


Ripening Dreams


Today I ask myself: Am I at a fork in the road? 

The answer comes: No, I’m a spoon, held in a rounded cup. 

I surrender to the words of Rainer Maria Rilke.

If we surrendered 

to earth’s intelligence, 

we could rise up rooted, like trees.

I knead the soil within, open knots and loosen “nots”, assemble unity.  Marie Curie’s words radiate through:

Nothing in life is to be feared.  It is only to be understood.

Smoothing the waves