Saturday, April 23, 2011

Far Overhead, I Think I See

This is one of those weeks when I completely lost my writing/blogging voice. I simply could not post to this blog. I tried to but no words came. The reasons are crystal clear to me, but articulating them might be misinterpreted by you, dear reader, so silence must be considered golden for now.

I don't know whether to fight this blockage. Silence sometimes is preferable to provocation. Otherwise, the truths, once revealed, might strike all of us blind.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Baby in the Tree

This may not be a very good summer for our plum tree. Just when the flowers were turning into baby fruits, some heavy winds hit our backyard and I'm afraid many young plums got swept away.

But at least one survived, and when I spotted it recently, I smiled.

The plums from this tree are an unusual variety for this region -- large and purple, sweet and heavy. When they ripen, they force the tree's branches to hang low. The trick is to pick them before they fall, because they easily bruise and in the few feet to earth, their tender skin breaks.

I'm often out there to get them before those falls, or to gather them soon afterward.

I love these plums. For years now, they have sweetened my Julys. But this year, there will only be a few, including the youngster pictured above.

I'll be keeping my eye on her, as I'm pretty sure she would rather end up in my belly than rotting on the soil, skin split, succulence entered by ants, all flesh stripped by scavengers and garbage creatures.

I, by contrast, adore her shape and sweetness and know how to honor that. Not to mention how to include her essence as I jar one of my very rare bottles of plum jam.

Alas, this year there will probably be no jam. Only the momentary pleasure of sweetness as one plum's flesh goes down my throat.

What a pity.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Today's Wind

If you click on this photo, it will enlarge, and if you look hard, you may see the hummingbird, grey and green, in the center of the apple tree.

I saw another hummingbird today, outside the windows at the building in the Presidio where hundreds of us gathered to support the family of the precious young life so recently lost, to suicide, at age 14.

We all came in one sense to ask questions and find answers, but there are no answers to be found to such questions, and so, only the questions remained there once we had left.

We also came just to be where we needed to be for this boys' remarkable parents and older brother; to in some physical way demonstrate that we are witnesses not only to their ineffable pain but to the wonderful boy they raised, a child who overcame many difficulties, including hearing loss, weak vision, and other physical challenges to become a star athlete, and one of the most socially gifted youngsters it has ever been my pleasure to know.

I loved this kid and I observed everything about him closely for years. From my own deaf cousin, I saw this boy, at an early age, becoming a lip-reader. Later, he had hearing aids, but that technology is imperfect, and he continued to rely on other senses to know when something was being said outside of his range of sight or hearing, and turn his head in that direction, hunting down the origin of sounds that once he located them in space, would quickly reveal their meaning to him.

Sometimes, he spoke very loudly, not knowing he was doing so, and we had to remind him to speak a bit more quietly here in my small apartment, which he visited so many times over the years.

We shared pizza and spaghetti often enough that it must have bored him -- I am not much of a cook -- but he always thanked me and he always seemed to enjoy the food, whatever its quality.

The last time he stayed over was just a few months back, the first week of the new year, actually, and a time that I was not at the top of my game. But he, as always, was a welcome member of our family, part of the posse of boys in the living room watching movies and playing video games -- one of a group of young people I wish could keep coming here forever...

But of course, nothing and no one is forever. All that we know and hold dear is temporary.


I did my best to hide it but for five straight hours today I cried. There is only one person who noticed every teardrop, and later, linking her 12-year-old's arms with mine, we shopped. I was buying salad before dinner with old friends; she was seeking food color for the vials of bubbles handed out at the memorial service.

Her idea is to create colorful art out of those bubbles.


My youngest son has been among the many walking wounded since his friend died. The two of them had been together just hours earlier that awful day, but my son had sensed nothing wrong. Since then, I have watched and known that my son has been doubting his own ability to sense what others around him are going through. He is himself such a gentle and sensitive person I know this is making him ache in ways he has no words or tools to express.

But I was proud, very proud, to see him slowly walk up to his friends' parents, bend down (he is much taller than either of them) and embrace them after today's ceremony. There were not any words he could speak, but there was a hug he could give, which spoke louder than mere words -- much louder.

And he did.


I saw another gentle little woodpecker today. In the middle of the service, borne on the wind, it hovered outside the window from the room where we had gathered. Inside, there were no answers to be had, nor will there ever be.

Outside, there was a tiny bird, and life on this planet continued as it always has, and God-willing, will continue to do so, even as we, one by one, pass away from this place and this time and this pain and these many joys.

All things must pass. But remember that you are never alone. No, no, no, you're not alone.