Tuesday, January 06, 2004


I awoke Sunday to see my article on Buddhism and the arts in San Francisco on the cover of the Sunday Datebook section in the San Francisco Chronicle. There was a note about me in the editor's introduction to the issue, and the piece was elegantly illustrated.

I noted all this as I also noticed that for the first time, Tess the cat had chosen my new meditation cushion (a Christmas gift from Margaret) for her sleeping spot.

We get the Sunday Chronicle delivered, so the Datebook was here when I got up. Then I noticed something else---there were two copies of the Datebook. Looking through the rest of the paper I realized that we were missing about half the sections, but of the sections we had, we had two of them all. So there had been some mistake in assembling our paper. But it resulted in two copies of the section my work was in, rather than one (or none.)

This is the rainy season here, and we've had a series of storms come through: lots of wind and rain, some hail, even a flash or two of lightning. But when the sun shines, it shines as warmly as in summer. When it comes out after rain, steam rises from the ground.

(This is specifically where we live, a couple of miles from the coast. Up in the nearby forested hills where friends of our live ---including a very new friend, born last month--- one of our rain storms was six inches of snow. )

Sunday was mixed clouds and sun, but dry and bright enough to warrant a walk on the beach. We drove the few minutes through flat farm land (a big flower nursery, dairy cows) to Mad River Beach. We parked in the lot, walked across the sand dunes to the beach, and north along the shore to the mouth of the Mad (which, like everything else on the beach, is never in the same place twice.) Some other people were there---students who returned early from home for the holidays---but as usual, not noticeably many for the size of the beach. A few birds, and some seals who seem to like to hang out where the river flows into the ocean.

On this beach you can find knarled logs and wood fragments, stones of many colors and shapes, shells and sand dollars. But generally you find one of those category dominates. Once on my birthday I walked on this beach and saw hundreds of sand dollars, many intact and bright white in the heavy fog. On Sunday the beach was dominated by stones. Red and yellow in adobe shades, marine green, blue to purple, granite gray, black and white. Many with stripes of another color, in thin regular patterns or large single swaths. A white stone with black patterns resembling calligraphy. Slightly wet, some were smooth and shiny. Others are singular bunched and twisted shapes. Smooth grainy granite like stones in perfect ovals and triangles.

It was sunset as we walked back down the beach from the river mouth. At one point we saw something we hadn't seen before: Margaret spotted a rainbow, faint but complete, a complete arch over the area where the sun was going down behind the cloud line at the horizon.

The whole sky was something. To the southeast, blue sky in shades of azure. Clouds above and to the north. Even a V line of birds (going north, though. Wondered about that.)

Now it's Monday, and I've gotten a few emails about the story, including one from Michael McClure, who I interviewed for the piece. It's not every day you get compliments from a distinguished, very well-read poet and playwright who knew both Keroauc and Jim Morrison.

And it's the first Monday after the holidays, and back to work. The work of finding work that pays. This piece was great in many ways, but financially it cost me more to write it than I was paid. I'd like to be able to still have these Sundays. The process continues, but so does the wonder.

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