Creekside Traveler

14×18″ oil on canvas paneI–  i found a spot to paint the sunlight on the water with my easel in the shade and my feet in the creek.  When this Junco came leisurely rock-hopping downstream  I had to paint him in.

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In the Shade of a Eucalyptus at Devereux Slough

Deveroux Slough1

Casein on Panel 12×12″

Click to Bid

This is the view from the turnout on the road out to Coal Oil Point.  The egrets were hunting in the shallows and the ducks and coots were swimming and diving.  Such a beautiful day and season… the birdwatchers with extra large cameras and binoculars would drive up every thirty minutes or so.

Cul de Sac

houses
Cul de Sac

Here you see a fifth acre of desert scrub.
A black plastic weed barrier buried under decomposed granite
     with soggy cactus,
     overwatered mesquite, and 
Mojave natives poking their heads 
     through circular holes.
A tall century bloom swarms with hummingbirds.

Next door, you find a formal lot imported from colonial England,
     with gingerbread epoxied to the stucco.
     A trimmed lawn with an ornamental plum
     sprouts bushes and hedges trimmed like lollipops.
A red-brick walkway sways pleasantly to the red front door.

Apparently, a fifth acre chunk of Hawaii has been excavated
     shipped overseas,
     and dropped into the plot next door...
     Plop!
          Bermuda grass, 
          palm trees, 
          ginger flowers and
          trailing bamboo... 
     (the curse of colonial England next door) 
all flank a pink mailbox in a pad of black lava rock.

Down the street, an awkward crispy orange pine tree
     and some ceramic squirrels 
     create the high mountain ambiance of a Swiss glen.  
The Dutch annuals explode along the sidewalk like
     red, yellow, blue and green fireworks
     (miracle-y growing so far from their Nordic relatives)
     with their plastic name and care tags 
sprouting from the salt-and-pepper soil like fuses.

The Hawaiians, Mexicans, English and Swiss
gossip in their driveways, rolling eyes and cursing the house at 
the end of the block, so flagrantly violating the HOA...

Just look at its weedy, unwatered yard going to seed:
     an unpruned wild oak planted by jays,
          dandelions, 
          chickweed, 
          lambs quarters, 
          Red Maids and 
          coastal sage overflowing the mowing strip...
No gardeners here but the wild birds.   
Look at them
     munching wild seeds,
     checking their migration maps, 
     and wondering
“where on earth are we, anyway?”

Nature is a Gardener

Nature is a Gardener

Plants are her purest expression,
      spending their days eating sunlight and
      expelling a dazzling display
          of scents,
          colors
          and flavors.
Gophers are just tools to plow the earth.
Birds and squirrels sow the seeds.
Deer are nice quiet lawnmowers.
Owls, snakes and ladybugs?   Pest control.
Goats do the pruning.
Beavers are merely complex irrigation systems,
      and bees... the hardworking genetic engineers.
Everybody does their share of the fertilizing
      and composting
      at one point or another,
      but other than that, I have to ask,
“What kind of gardening tool am I?”

lawnmower

The Creek’s Eyes

“What happened???”
      soap plant asks in amazement as it pokes its green tuft 
      of leaves into the sun after its hibernation,
      snuggled underground in summer slumber,
      in dry paper wrappers with the other wet season bulbs.
There is no reply from his few remaining charred neighbors.
Sourgrass,
      awakened by the first rainfall since April
      stretches out its dangly yellow arms,
      equally stunned,
but not disappointed with the new view of the ocean.
“Wildfire,” yawns rattlesnake,
      slithering into a den to sleep away winter:
            the frost,
            the mushrooms and mudslides,
      the canadian geese calling on their flight path south.
“The light contains all things and all things contain the light,”
      call the geese from overhead
      as they chase summer southward,
      quoting Dogen, I believe.

And here I am, sketching up an echoless canyon among 
      shadowless trees,
      thinking of how people are like
      floating bubbles on a stream,
           three-hundred and sixty degree traveling mirrors,
           reflecting the world and each other.
           arising and popping unexpectedly:
      the creek’s eyes.
And it’s fascinating to think of what plants and animals miss 
      out on in their cycles of dormancy-
           napping away entire seasons
      blind in their own cocoons.

Snacking now,
carefully peeling wrappers from a hard-boiled egg and some 
      sunflower seeds,
      a satisfied bubble enjoying the stream,
      I wonder about my own blind spots,
      which I quickly decide don’t exist,
since I can’t see them.