Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainsplash Piano Keys

And speaking of coincidence---let me not forget to recount a lovely one that occurred on a recent rainy day, Mon, Nov 15, to be exact, during my morning meditation, which necessarily took place inside looking out, due to rain.

Many birds at the feeder drew my attention away from meditation, causing me to wonder why they didn't take shelter in the rain. Housefinches, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, and yes, my pair of bluebirds, filled all six feeding stations, aggressively vying for the available perches, chasing each other away for their turns. It was as if they thought it was their last meal for a long time---maybe because of the storm?

Steady rain fell vertically in the absence of wind, and I sat watching through glass doors, pondering the birds and the rain on the deck banister, which was at eye-level. Tiny splashes raced back and forth across the flat-topped banister at random intervals, reminding me of piano keys under an able pianist's fingers. As I watched, I became aware that beautiful piano music was playing on WABE radio's Second Cup Concert. I did not recognize the piece, but noted how like these birds in the rain it was. I listened, consciously willing the rainsplash to synchronize with the piano, mesmerized by the visual and aural mix of the moment.

I don't know if the confirmation that followed was due to mathematical odds or cosmic choreography, but remarkably, Lois Reitzes's distinctive voice announced at the end of the piece that it was Franz Liszt's piano composition titled St. Frances of Assisi Preaching to the Birds.

In the words of Dave Barry, "I am not making this up." I was only paying attention. dkm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mathematically Speaking . . .

How is it that so often after one gives pause to anything new, the same new thing comes across one's path again in a different context, seemingly too soon to be a random coincidence?

It happened again today. While reading The Heart of a Distant Forest, by Philip Lee Williams, I came across a literary reference to the glistening of the sun in the pine trees---a reference that would have escaped my notice had I not recently written two blog posts about the same topic. (Oct 22 & 29)

Mere coincidence? Yes, I think so. I used to think it was an indication of some cosmic force at work, but in the course of keeping this nature blog, I've come around to the coincidence theory.

Mathematically, millions of bits of information present themselves to us in a day. The odds are pretty good that once in a while, two of them will be similar, and if we're paying attention, we'll notice. THAT's the key element---IF we are paying attention. Just one more pleasure to derive from the simple act of being mindful. Yay.

It's also likely that we increase the odds of the kind of coincidence in question by our self-selected behavior patterns. That is, a person who chooses to sit in the backyard for at least an hour a day is way more likely to be reading a book by Philip Lee Williams than one by, say, Michael Crichton. dkm
"And so today I praise the strength that still courses through my hands and the joy of seeing the sunlight scattered on the pine needles."
---Philip Lee Williams, in The Heart of a Distant Forest

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pinestraw Welcome

The seat of the John James Audubon swing was covered with a four-inch deep fluffy mix of pinestraw and leaves when we returned from our trip to the west coast. Beautiful colors. Twelve days away. A thousand observations worthy of blogposts. No way to catch up. Unless---a list---a name-only list---as a way at least to trigger my own mental reflection, however incomplete. Oh joy---I relish a good bulleted list. An efficient short-cut.
  • The Los Angeles homeless population and I, waiting together for the downtown L.A.Public Library to open/we lined up in orderly fashion when the security guard opened the doors/entered in single silent file/we shared the second floor/I in my carrel, writing/they in theirs, sleeping or reading/a kind of solidarity/we did not disturb each other/I love that public libraries are open to the homeless/more open than most churches/how is that?
  • Big Sur/OMG/Big Sur
  • The thing about Big Sur: that its carved rugged beauty, ever moving, has been there for millions of years, since long before we evolved to admire it/we're not the reason it's there/why the beauty?
  • Sunset over the Pacific Ocean/view from Nepenthe/nice photographer
  • Torrey Pines/cone from Moe's golf outing/this pine cone deserves its own blog post/as does Big Sur/but I cower in the face of their magnificence/the pine cone's one-in-a-millionness/Big Sur's one-and-onliness/my pencil goes still
  • The Redwoods/OMG/and the Sequoias/like Elaine of Seinfeld again/describing hell:-)
  • Olallieberry Inn/olallieberry jam/the word as delectable as the fruit/a berry's berry
  • Biking across Golden Gate Bridge with eight revised chapters on my back to give to editor in Sausalito at Cibo
  • The views from the bridge/the sun on SF/on Alcatraz/on Sausalito/a fogless morning
  • The good pinch of muscle/leaning into SF hills
  • The sea lions on Pier 39
  • Savoring the food in Chinatown and North Beach
  • The woman who wanted only 25 cents/her scratched and bleeding throat, her twisted limbs/her rheumy eyes/her Chinese accent/her satisfaction with a quarter/A QUARTER/when my wallet was full
  • The vast table of clouds from the Airtran window/BEING above the clouds/IN the poetic welkin/not the first time/yet the first time
  • Yellow cast of fall light through the color-turned woods welcoming us home
  • Leaves/green when we left/red on return
  • Air/transformed from mushy to crisp
  • Pinestraw cushion on the swing
  • dkm