Ring Mountain

When my youngest started kindergarten, I trained to become a Terwilliger nature guide.  My site was Ring Mountain, where I am now.  This morning I stepped out and passed two houses to cross a stream and enter the sacred site.

This is Coast Miwok land.  The Nature Conservancy bought it when the Tiburon Mariposa Lily was discovered to grow here and nowhere else.  There is serpentine at the top surrounded by sandstone so flowers developed and then were caught as though planted to keep this land always open in honor of the native people and plants.

I couldn’t go far today because of the mud but I know there is a midden here and a hole in the rock where the Miwok people ground their acorns.  It’s under a buckeye tree which loses its leaves in the winter and grows them back in the spring.  Therefore sunlight is moderated, and it’s next to a stream, so acorns are leached so they can be pounded and eaten.  

Salem Rice, an expert on Bay area geology, said that there were more different kinds of rocks on Ring Mt. than across half of the country.  It’s a paradise of rocks and because there’s no pollution lichen grows luxuriously on the rocks.

In those days, I  lead fifth and sixth graders on field trips on the mountain.  I showed them how one could survive right here.  Everything was provided.  The bay provides clams, crabs, fish. Quail run free and can be caught in special traps.   Boats can be built from the tule grasses if one wants to venture across the bay. Tule also provides housing, and soaproot provides soap.  It’s a paradise and the road below is actually called Paradise.  

With the children we also discussed the modern day.  People need homes so how do we balance the natural landscape with that?  The children understood.  They are wise, like owls.  Last night, I was entertained by the hooting of an owl.  

At the top of the mountain are petroglyphs facing west.  This is a sacred place.  My photos only give a taste of a small part about 2/3rds up as I couldn’t walk very far along the trail with the mud, but more days come along with rain today.

Crossing the bridge to enter the sacred site
A pocket of the stream
Rocks and water nestle together – change each other’s song
Looking up
A vision of Lichen on rock – Annie Algae meets Freddie Fungus
Soapwort leaves nibbled by deer – the root provides the soap
Looking out over the bay
The landscape in a rock
A Home
The Stream
A neighbor’s yard
Announcing the arrival of Spring!

Exploring Roots

Yesterday I was at the Legion of honor for the Guo Pei exhibit, a “Couture Fantasy” and a fantasy it was.  Guo Pei was raised during the Cultural Revolution in China when everyone wore the same outfit in gray or brown.  There was no display of creativity or uniqueness.  She listened to stories from her grandmother of beautiful clothes and jewelry.  From that her imagination grew and flowed and she says “Working to create something is like a religion to me.”  

Guo Pei: “There is a Chinese saying: “One flower, one world: one leaf and one awakening.”  For me, flowers express happiness, joy, and pleasure. When I was little, my maternal grandmother told me, “The bigger the tree, the more luxurious its roots.” What this means to me is that the parts of someone you see, like their successes, are due to really good development of their roots. The roots of a plant can sometimes be even more beautiful than what is visible. Many flowers fruit at the root or bloom underground. I tell my children that if you want to be very successful in the future, you have to cultivate, and you must cultivate downward and not upward. What people ultimately see of you – for example, my work – is only a tiny part of everything.”

Outside the Legion of Honor yesterday

Inside the Museum

Beauty – Inside and Out


In 2005/2006, I went through treatment for breast cancer, or as Molly Ivins put it, I was poisoned, and burned.  She added that she was mutilated, but I ‘just” had a lumpectomy so didn’t feel as violated as those who had more.

I finished treatment in June and went through horse therapy to “re-empower” me.  I’m not sure I was re-empowered but I loved the horses, and the time with them, and learning how they responded to my energy.  It was a lesson in how we respond to the energy of others, and our own, and how we interact.

That September, I was invited to participate in a fashion show, a gift to the oncologists and doctors who had contributed to the survival of a group of women, and one man. Yes, men can get breast cancer, and he was quite a dapper soul.

We each had three outfits to wear down the runway.  I wore pink lingerie, brown sportswear, and a beautiful black outfit with the risk of very high heels.  Everyone wore formal dress for the runway and grand finale.

It was a beautiful, fund-raising event.  It comes to me now when I read that Desiree Anzalone, the great-granddaughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr., has died from breast cancer. She was just 31.

We are reading of her because she is famous, but my understanding is that all the young women in that show passed away rather quickly afterwards.  I was the oldest in the show at 56.  There was a woman in her 20’s and others in their 30’s and 40’s, and a few in their young 50’s.

Cells multiply more quickly in the young so when they get cancer, they are more at risk.  My family is gathering today, socially distanced, of course, to celebrate my son’s birthday.  I give thanks for all the scientists and doctors and dedicated people who mean I’m here.  The young man who handed us a gown for radiation always made sure each gown was warm, and he said a prayer over each one.  Tears come.  We live in a world of care.