Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dressing Up for Winter

Put on your red dress, baby.

Tommy Tucker

The forest must have heard about the lunar eclipse. Perhaps you saw the moon all dressed in red in the middle of the night. The forest’s color choice might have been so inspired, a kind of emulation. I walked a long time in the forest. When walking alone, I notice things that are impossible to see if distracted from nature by human conversation.

As if overnight, the park discarded its autumn attire and changed into red clothes. Almost everyone dressed up to greet winter. While I was warm under the covers, did a forest band play too? I’ll bet there were trumpets and a host of violins. It’s not every day one season gives way to another. It’s not every day that the deepest darkness makes way for the light.


  1. And we love red dresses. Happy Holidays Patrice!

  2. When I visit the boys on the Other Side of the Mountain, I'm not ashamed of what a wuss I allow myself to become. I settle right in with my books and notebooks and cameras and film, finding whatever else I might need or want on my own, endearing myself to them for not needing to be entertained or expecting anything other than a space at a table for scratching away at my notes.

    Up until sometime last year, they lived in a wonderful scratch-built by them, two bedroom cabin with a woodstove for heat and a gas stove for cooking. Now they live in a veritable mansion, also scratch-built by them, of open airy spaces or hand-rubbed beams, with an upstairs loft for watching TV and spinning yarn from sheep and rabbits, and a downstairs with two bedrooms and a kitchen built for tall people and a big shower room that adjoins where the orchids are kept, and there's no curtain over the sliding glass doors leading to the back part of the property, which in turn leads up a steep hill where the water tank lives. They pump water uphill to that tank from the spring in their forest and let gravity help get it to the showers, sinks, and faucets.

    The day-long chatter of their parakeets and cockatiel becomes background noise you don't even notice after awhile, and the dogs and cats come for a rub or a pat in between bursts of writing while listening to the local radio station. You can daydream anywhere in the house, even when you're standing with your hands clasped behind your back, a most dangerous pose for time management if you're facing one of many large windows and thinking you'll only do it for a minute or two. Then again danger and time management are kissing cousins on the Other Side of the Mountain; they rarely seem to get in the way of good work.

    I only stayed for two days and two nights this time, leaving the new house just long enough to step onto the expansive porch to burn off aging black-and-white film. There was no other need for me to go outside. Outside was cold and wet and besides, I had magical views of it through many big windows. The view down the ravines is incredible and the daylight changes moment to moment – a photographer's dream world with mist rising like smoke from amongst the firs and oaks and madrones, and the sun scrubbing the back of cloud cover. Sometimes it seemed like a beat-up tin pan was tacked up over our part of the sky.

    On the second day, I asked the younger of the boys to point out the direction one must take in order to find the spring in their forest. He was vague, saying that once you entered the forest you had to know where to look for a bridge that crosses a creek. Then he pointed down the hill to the expanse of their property lying between the cabin and their new home. He asked me if I remembered seeing the pump house from the windows of the cabin. I told him that I did, indeed, remember seeing it, and that there was no way in hell I'd ever willingly go check it out. Except for the views inside of their forest, everything is quite visible on their property, but tough to get to on foot. Birds make trips to and from the various points in seconds; humans in minutes sometimes adding up to nearly an hour.

    The younger boy took in my scratchy observations with a smile, knowing my background and upbringing wouldn't allow me to NOT traverse his hills and gullies and forest if there was a serious need. Well, he said, the spring inside the forest is on an invisible line with the pump house you can see from the cabin.