Joshua Tree Paintings

12×16″ oil on canvas– Boulder Maze

9×12″ oil– Split Rock Frame

Here are a couple small paintings I made as we camped amongst the boulders at Jumbo Rocks last week.  I love how the desert plays with your sense of scale, with rocks shaped like pebbles but four stories high in a vast flat expanse miles wide under an enormous sky.  Huddled close to the ground you find wildflowers, horned lizards and a myriad of resourceful life forms–  so much small detail and so much space.  The Joshua Trees in these paintings give them their scale– without them, these might just be sand castles.

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Painting in Costa Rica pt. 1

Our family was so fortunate to get the opportunity to explore Costa Rica this summer.  We saw incredible lush scenery (it is the rainy season), met beautiful down-to-earth people, and encountered a long list of rainforest creatures… quetzals, coatis, agoutis, monkeys and iguanas.  So nice to see such pristine habitat— (but don’t buy palm oil, which is the only monoculture we saw trampling the rainforest)  Pura Vida!arenaloasis

Arenal 8×10″ Casein on PaperNuayacaFalls

Nuayaca Falls 8×10″ Casein on PaperSalto

Salto en Arenal   8×10″ Casein on Paper

A Sweet Poison Oak Patch

The overcast afternoon under these dark live oaks on the Jesusita trail made the reds in the poison oak just glow.  I have to confess that I’m coming to love this plant.  I think of it like a protector of patches of the landscape where wild creatures can hide from people in hidden glens like this one.   Thinking from this point of view makes the spots on my leg itch a little less.    Casein on Birch Panel 9×12″   Click to BidLatest7Latest6

Afternoon on the Bluffs

I decided not to include the crews of guys in hazmat suits cleaning up tar balls riding the currents south on the currents from the Refugio oil spill.  It is a shame that such a beautiful landscape is tainted by accidents like this and the huge offshore platforms on the horizon. I hope some day we’ll switch to more sustainable energy sources and pipelines will be a thing of the past.  Casein on Birch Panel  8×10″

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Breathtaking Mountains

(I haven't posted a poem in a while... 
This one came to me while backpacking 
in the Thousand Lakes basin over a year ago.)

These tall granite peaks
     (the ones sitting in a magnificent circle here
     with a basin of mirrored lakes at their toes.
           which are creating
           rock and pine tree Rorschach tests
           on their distant shorelines
     for the deer to contemplate)…
These immense castle walls
      (with the hollow bone-like echoes
      of the last of this years snowmelt
            channeling through their
            crevices and caverns
      and then springing to the surface
      to be filtered by spongy wildflower gardens)…
These eroding ancient pyramids
      (falling apart as boulders, pebbles, and sand
           slowly disassembling into the most
           complex jigsaw puzzle on the planet)…
Yes, these very mountains
      are breathing.
I heard them myself,
      inhaling a breeze up this warm moist valley
               up
                    up
                         up
      to their snowy tops, where they are exhaling it,
      right now
           as puffy white cumulonimbus outbreaths.
So strong, when the mountains breathe,
      that I can help but feel the wind
      sucked from my own lungs
 as it joins the flow to the peaks.

Guerrilla Gardening

Gardeners of the world unite!
Let’s slip out in the full moonlight
          with seeds in hands
          and watering cans
And garden spades stashed out of sight!
For our first organic plot,
lets sneak into a parking lot
          and plant fruit seeds
          so folks won’t need
To go indoors for apricots.
Street medians we will reclaim,
This public land won’t look the same,
          We’ll line each route
          with herbs and fruit
Overflowing into the lanes.
Three sisters: corn and squash and beans,
Are now sprouting outside Dairy Queen,
          They have no clue,
          that it was you,
And nice touch with those collard greens.
And if we have any luck,
Children will soon learn to pluck
          free string beens,
          climbing the swings,
And extend recess and save a buck.
Once we’ve pulled out all the stops,
Who’ll want those corporate monocrops?
          No genetics here,
          And we’ve got beer-
Once we harvest that creekside hops.
We’ll pry concrete with fig tree roots,
We’ll enlist scrubjays as recruits
          to plant an oak
          at every stroke,
And give new meaning to “grassroots.”
Let’s plant city parks and vacant land,
With a living, humming garden stand,
          Let’s teach the youth
          with food and truth,
That what sustains them is in their hands.
Let “Compost! Compost!” be our cry,
It’s a freedom none can be denied,
          To love the ground,
          and help it rebound,
Gardeners of the world, unite!


			

Drought Remedy

You can tell by the gathering thunderheads
     that enough modern day shamans must have performed
     today’s most effective rain dance rituals—
          either by washing their cars
or planning outdoor weddings in the spring.

Not to be superstitious, but let us not jinx this
     by looking at the weather channel
     rather than stepping outdoors to feel the air.

And quick, before the sky opens,
     let us reroute these aluminum gutters,
     street side gullies,
     concrete culverts,
     dikes, ducts and drains designed
to protect us from flood by dehydrating the landscape.

With some reverse engineering,
     backwards pioneering,
     and a handy undo-it-yourself mentality
     we can turn convention on its head
     like an upside-down umbrella
and slow, spread, and sink this sweet rainfall.

Let’s dig us some swales
     swollen with saturated sponges
     of punky wood and mushroom mycelium
     and strengthened with the rebar-like roots of resilient plants.
     Watch as these drops filter through the earth
     to fill our emptied aquifers,
those underground rivers thirsty too long now
     under impervious parasols of parching pavement.

Shakened and awakened by the thunder on the horizon now,
     why not go out barefoot in these cold showers,
     quench our skin,
     celebrate
and sing our appreciation with the frogs?