Archive for May, 2010

A Long Tradition

Thirty-five years ago, a bunch of hippies in Mendocino started a tradition of getting  together to read their poems. Many of the original group were at the Hill House last Sunday, to reminisce about the old days and to read their work at the 35h Anniversary Mendocino Spring Poetry Celebration. Produced by Gordon Black and hosted by Sharon Doubiago and Dan Roberts, the event drew 46 poets, of whom I was privileged to be one.  I felt I was part of history.

Vegetable Garden, Take 2

My March gardening enthusiasm was a flop. Of all the seeds I planted, only lettuce, peas, fava beans and a few chard came up. Creepy-crawlies quickly demolished the chard. The weather stayed cold and wet. Weeds flourished. I turned my back. Then May arrived with its soft days, and I was tempted once again. This time I hied me to my favorite local nursery, North Star, where I found lovingly grown organic vegetable starts. I brought home chard, red cabbage, kale, basil,  parsley, and two tomato plants, Oregon Spring and Sweet 100.  The peas are coming in to harvest. The garlic looks happy. For now, optimism triumphs.

Where the flowers are

It is one thing to know as a fact that high rainfall tallies in California’s rainy season result in more spring wildflowers. It is quite another thing to feel with your whole being that exuberant burst of fecundity.

At MacKerricher State Park this morning the air is misty and the sea is calm. Out by Laguna Point, swathes of Goldfields (Lasthenia chrysotoma) dazzle the eye. Up close, I see that among the Goldfields are patches of Purple Butter & Eggs (Triphysaria eriantha ssp. rosea) whose complementary color makes the gold even more eye-popping. Scattered among them are California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica). Not the orange poppies we coast dwellers snobbishly refer to as freeway poppies, but our own coastal variety, the leaves more fleshy to resist the salt wind, the flowers a prettier yellow.

South along the headlands trail, I know a place where Coast Delphinium (Delphinium decorum) grows. Never more than a foot high, each plant has a head of deep blue flowers that glow with intensity. This year they are magnificent. As I crouch to admire, I remember renewing their acquaintance in previous springs.

This is the way an immigrant learns to belong: to come back and back to a place, to remember its varied moods, to remember where the flowers are.