Sunday, February 24, 2013

Manna in the Morning: Just to Dance

Manna in the Morning: Just to Dance

Just to Dance

An early hour this morning spent at Dog Beach. A rapturous time for a dog, where all the energies of life distill into a pristine combination of sunrise, sea and sand. Manna pulls me earnestly to the point where she can be let off the leash, and speeds without fear or hesitation into the fray of the leaping, running, splashing canine heaven. Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds seem to be as one as all joyously cavort at the edge of earth and sea. Spontaneously, a celebration of life and being alive, as if this moment was all there is. I watch and learn; they are right. This is our only moment, because life has no guarantees, no promises to keep. The time we live, moment to moment , is all we really have.

As I have grown older, this concept of life and the transience of it has come more to the forefront of my being, as I suppose it does for most people. And yet, it does not scare me, or make me anxious in living my life. As I watch Manna play with the other dogs wholeheartedly, without  even a a crumb of misgiving, I learn again how important it is for us to put away those fears and anxieties that hold us back from being truly ourselves. Of the joyful pursuit of life. Living on the edge of sea and sand, between sky and earth, within the space of ambiguity that makes us both human and spiritual, bringing us together in amazing ways under a universal umbrella some of us may call God, or Nature, or simply just being in this wonderful universe we call our home.

I still have a lot to learn as I watch Manna simply be a creature on her own terms, one that does not dwell on what can be, but simply what is, and finding a true, unbroken, and evolving happiness in just that. Living in the rhythm of life that manifests itself in total love. I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to learn.

As C and I watch the playful dance of the dogs, running, jumping, interrelating with each other, I admire their honesty and purpose. Souls that communicate in ways we cannot comprehend, but seem to work for them. The heartbeat of each moment becomes the wisdom of their being, and their capacity of relating to the world and each other. I will think on this, and hopefully gain something from it. Maybe, if I take what is in front of me to heart, I will learn just to dance.

We will soon walk back across the sand, leaving this beach to others, and maybe, just maybe, I will pick up a shell along the way, put it to my ear, and listen for a song to dance to. Then the three of us  will dance all the way home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Manna in the Morning: TRUE NORTH

Manna in the Morning: TRUE NORTH


She runs ahead of me this morning, a rolling clear sheet of sea chasing her up the black sand. A beach to ourselves except for the couple wearing matching red vests, who's Great Dane is tentatively testing its feet in the water. The first soft reach of an approaching storm due to hit later this day, but already the surf is voluminous with foam, the sky leaden and dark in the first eyes of dawn.  The wind has cold and bracing fingers.  I'm not sure what possessed me to leave a warm house for this, but Manna seems indifferent to the chill, so I will move along for the exercise, a hooded sweatshirt being a warm shell of sanctuary.

As she runs, sniffs and rolls in the sand, I wonder if somewhere deep inside she is still a creature of the wilderness, a descendant of wolves, cautious in her bearing yet free and confident in her own being. Running silently with the pack along a deserted beach that stretches for ten thousand years, and an eternity of wolf-song passed down through countless generations.

At one point, she lay on her belly on the sand fifty yards or so from me. She stayed there and starred out toward the boiling surf. I watched and waited, and then turned my gaze to the horizon. A fishing boat was making it's way toward the mouth of the harbor, running lights still bright in the half light of dawn, dancing on the surface of the black swells.
I don't know what so interested her, but she stayed motionless for the longest time watching the boat churn its way north. Whether her keen ears could hear the distant cadence of laughter and talk of the fishermen as they made their way to port, or the call of the seagulls that dove and swirled around the stern, I could not tell. She was intent on it though, and her interest drew me into wondering what it was like in that warm cabin, maybe a first cup of morning coffee cupped in both hands as we make our way to safe port before the buffeting storm.

Time to go. We take the long walk back along the sand to where the car waits to journey us back home. C will probably be up, and Manna and I will have stories to tell. Stories of cold wet sand that still clings to us, and a sharp white light of new sun that happened to cut a crease briefly through the clouds as we walked, illuminating the sand in a bright shingle of stars. Of a long cast of bleak and lonely beach that we brought back in silent thought, and the transient running lights of the boat that carries us over seas of light and darkness heading true north, always bringing us home.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Manna in the Morning: A LITTLE WILDERNESS

Manna in the Morning: A LITTLE WILDERNESS


The canyons and arroyos that intertwine the developed portions of this city seem to me to be the brush that paints the seasonal picture of this place. It is within these creases of land where autumn extends its arms in the muted colors of the turning sycamore, crisp blue shadows dwell under the dusty green of twisted live oak, and the coastal sage waits dry and thirsty for the first taste of rain it's had for months. Late winter and spring bring the seasonal stream beds to life, the storms that roll out of the north Pacific or come crawling up the Mexican coast are the welcome relatives to the table, as they bring the gift of much needed rain. The first blush of green begins to cover the hillsides, an emerald backdrop to the scatter of  wildflowers and blushes of red round berries.

Spruce, Bancroft Creek, Los Penasquitos, San Clemente, Jamacha, Little Sycamore, Mission Trails and Oak. Names that can express the wildness or particular eccocentric aspect of a canyon's natural heredity and location.

There are a number of canyons within a short walk from our home, which I have spent countless hours through the years with our dogs. I especially like the early morning or time right before sunset in these places, as the pointed slant of orange light and shadow conveys an additional dimension to everything that thrives within these hidden pockets of solemn beauty. The trails that wind within always bring a surprise around a bend, whether it's the nonchalant coyote sitting in the path ahead, and then dissolving slowly into the undercover growth, a lone hawk on a fencepost, quiet dappled shade of an arching oak, or just the low hum of bees tagging the powder blue bush flowers smiling brightly to a hot summer sun.

Wilderness can mean a lot of things depending on where you find yourself living. To some, wilderness can be found only in the far reaches of mountains or deserts, truly removed from our urban landscape. To others, a sense of one with nature does not necessarily need a long trip away from our normal routine. Wilderness and the personal pleasure it brings may be found in snippets of time, and the most mundane of places if we seek out the layered sounds, the multi hued song of nature, and the amazing  tapestry of living things we share this earth with.

Manna and I just came back from a snippet of time in the canyon. She came back with the halo of new scents and experience, I brought back a pocketful of wilderness, the sun on my shirt, and a smile in my hand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Manna in the Morning: PEARL OF MORNING

Manna in the Morning: PEARL OF MORNING


With the  smallest hush of light , I'm beginning to hear the song of morning chanting it's low cadence far off in the distance. The first crackling of dawn. As I have come to savor this early time, I will try not to disturb the night too much from it's rustling sleep.  A cup of coffee at the table hopefully will not jiggle its shoulder too sharply. An egg or two in a pot may not arouse it too much. I will take Manna outside for a moment, my bare feet keeping light  so not to ruffle night's feathered back.  Anything to extend this silent time, before all of the day's ebb and flow over runs me.

Manna now snoozing, head on lap. Rumors of possible invisible squirrels or rabbits to chase through the light and shadow, and the leaping joy of a frizbee in the air may be running through her half awakening state. Like a baby shark, she will later be cruising  through the house, eyes intently tuned to her next prey of a nice chewsome shoe, mislaid approachable sweater, or a table cloth that's easily pulled to send whatever is on top askew across the kitchen floor.

Reluctantly I will soon have to turn over the reigns of repose, and check out of Hotel Kanji (Japanese symbol for tranquility). But I will try to hold this quiet pearl in my hand as long as I can this morning, and maybe slip one into Manna's paw while she's still sleeping and see if she holds on for a while.

I doubt it though, she has busy things to do.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I love a fire in the morning, like the one I just lit in the old fireplace with a little leftover kindling and a couple sheets of yesterday's New York Times. I think it was a portion of the weekend arts section, with a photo of a bright blue toy train on a track. Need to take the chill off from last nights rain. Manna seems to enjoy it as well, as I sit here stroking her head waiting for today's issue to be delivered to the front lawn by the lady in the red pickup. It gives me time to think about how the elements of this old house, at least for me, have a life of there own. How many fires have been lit in the hearth the last 87 years, and who were the people who lit them? Did they feel as I do a strange comfort when walking on the hardwood floor, listening to the creaking chorus of time inlaid in it's bones? A mother who, in the early years of the depression kissed her two children goodnight in the back bedroom and closed the door with the glass doorknob, the one with the purplish hue. Those children now well into their age if they still live, do they remember at this time of year how the 7 AM sun broke through the east living room window, the distorted and diffused light cast diagonally on the wall through the wavy glass? A son, home at last after a long and harrowing 18 months in the Navy in the south Pacific, 1944, sits quietly alone at an old wooden table in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in hand, looking out at the oak tree. He senses the importance of coming home as he rests his arm on the window sill, the same one I sometimes rest against. The man who lived here alone in 1959, his children grown and gone, would open the glass paned door to the side porch and collect the two bottles of milk delivered there every morning about this time. Now books are installed in the glass cases  on each side of the fireplace, replacing the vast collection of blown glass animals and figures that once was proudly displayed by the lady who lived here before us.

I wonder if Manna, her heightened canine senses alert to all that surrounds her, subtly inherits these ghosts of time. We certainly do, though what and who they were is actually a mystery, the above caretakers of this house coming mostly from imagination. But that in a way provokes ever more wonder and mystique to these surroundings. You could say this house is nothing special, a small bungalow set in the midst of hundreds of others, but I think that would not be present to the way lives unfold, as down through time we live so much in the pockets of those that came before. They made this house special from their presence in it, within their own pocket of time as we now do..

 The children we raised here have gown and gone too, but their running feet and laughter will somehow always sing within these ancient boards, along with the ticking feet of puppies. After we move on to other places, someone else will sit by this fire, and instill their own legacy within the fabric of this house.

The sky has lightened, last nights rain has moved on. A chill lingers outside, but not in here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I am being still this morning. Staunchly set under an afghan on the couch, superbly defending myself against the onslaught of day. Being still, silent, in a crease of folded dawn, the time before true light wraps the world and disturbs nights gentle song. Be still. Be still and listen. Be still and listen as the last blade edge of darkness glints with first light, and wants so much to run away and hide its cloaked and shadowed face. And yet it strains with the feeling of mourning the thought of giving up itself again, of being over run under the rolling tumble of day. But I will remain still. I will remain still and quiet to catch both the last easing sigh of night, and the first pillowed sounds of a new world beginning to bear fruit. "Catch me if you can!", I call out to the relentless sun, as I will stay as small and fine as a seed until its warmth penetrates me so far as I am compelled to split, drawing out the reluctant new growth planted in the warming earth. Be still. Be still as long as waiting shall have me. Silent. Listening. Until I hear the first soft footfalls of dawn moving up the stairs.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still.


Manna has not read this yet, so she doesn't quite get it. I'm working on her though.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A spectacular sunrise broke open the morning at first light. A sunrise that seemed it would have been more comfortable calling in a new day across a desert landscape, as it came accompanied by a slight dry breeze from the east. It's times like this when I wish our house had a large picture window and a view to match it, so that I could sit comfortably at the table with my coffee, maybe a slice or two of bacon could be at hand, Manna happily curled at my feet, and sit back and enjoy the spectacle of nature laid out before me. Our house does not however, have such a luxury, so to see this serene event I had to walk out our front door and stand bearfoot on the lawn in my bathrobe, and watch the crimson light chase across the cirrocumulus clouds silhouetting the palm trees, telephone poles and overhead wires.

I had Manna on a leash, hoping she might enjoy this wonderful revelry of light and gift of nature that is thrown at us with such abundance. She didn't seem impressed. She was more interested in the old mustachioed fellow who walks briskly by around this time every morning with a backpack strapped on and defiant look of determination on his face. I used to think he might be in training to embark on some great personal quest, such as scaling Mount Mckinley. But I have seen him walking by for years the same way, with the same backpack, his eyes focused steely ahead. I think the quest he is on is one that involves a more inward and intimate goal. I do wonder what he carries in that pack though.

This reminds me that we all sometimes wish for the opportunity to obtain grander scales of experience. That large picture window would certainly afford a grand view to enjoy. That trip to Europe we've had simmering in the back of our minds would be nice.  For now, I will take the more intimate view of things and store them up. That sunrise will forever be coupled with the feeling of cold wet grass under my feet, and Manna's curious eyes intently watching that old fellow walking by. And there is something that lingers with a feeling of solemn stark repose in the black skeletal form of telephone poles against a searing red morning sky. It is all enough for now.