Archive for April, 2010

As we were driving along the other day, my eye caught a yellow flower on the hillside mixed in with familiar red larkspur. At 40 mph, it looked like a larkspur and I mentioned it to my wife  Ruth, who knows of such things. “Couldn’t be a yellow larkspur,” she said. “I’ve never seen one. I don’t think it exists.” I stopped, turned around, returned to the spot, got out of the car, and approached the flower. I called Ruth from the car for her to make the definitive identification. We had, indeed, found a yellow larkspur. Later, the web told us they only grew in Sonoma County where we were, and only 100 individual plants remained in the wild.

Finding such a plant ranks high among my nature thrills, along with (more…)


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What is it about waterfalls that summons up excitement and interest? Is there a spiritual element? Or is it physical, with all the thunderous action and drama? Or is there a kind of sexual energy, a romance connection that draws lovers and those who are looking for love and lovers? The other day, I hiked to Alamere Falls at the southern end of Point Reyes National Seashore on the Coast Trail. The trail is arguably one of the greatest in the world, with Pacific coast views, scenic lakes (including the swimmable Bass Lake), creeks, wildflowers, interesting birds, mammals, and a windy,  rough trail leading down to Alamere Creek and Falls. The creek runs year-round, odd enough for a creek in northern California, and ends at a cliff where the water leaps off to the beach rocks below. This time of year, after all the winter rains, the water runs wide, rushing pell mell off the cliff with the broad Pacific as a backdrop. It’s a fairly difficult scramble down to the beach, and some choose not to attempt it, but a friend, writer and editor Carl Nagin, and I did and were rewarded with a beach better than any wonder human beings have been able to come up with in these past million years or so.

The beach itself is a magic carpet filled with semi-precious stones called agates. Carl turned out to be quite an agate hunter, finding many of the glistening stones as the sun revealed their location. Agate searching is a great meditation, by the way, as the stones can mesmerize the searcher with their luminosity. And just beyond the agate beach are the falls.

Because of their size, you can see Alamere Falls from far off the coast and from miles away on Limantour Beach farther north along the Point Reyes coastline. It thrills me to see them, a constant band of white water against the tawny cliffs. They are a reminder of the steadiness of nature amidst this volatile human world. I can lock my mind on the falls and be in Dhutanga meditation letting that mind become a part of the falls, letting all the detritus flow down and out, renewing and imbuing each breath in each fresh, vibrant moment I fail to accumulate any unnecessary thought to clog the flow. For I do, indeed, clog the flow…more than I’d care to admit. Of course before you can release the flow, you have to know you’re obstructing it.

So I sit in stillness beside Alamere Falls watching both the water and my own mind, letting my body just sit by the sea. There’s nothing more to do really. Nothing to analyze. Nothing to figure out. Nothing even to process through. Just getting out of my own self’s way and letting the falls perform their function of falling onto the beach, flowing into the ocean, and filling us, if we’re willing to listen and see, with the ecstasy of life.

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