Over Christmas break I flew to San Francisco and made a visit to my friend Briana Blackwelder’s grave. Thank you for the great directions, Candice.
For those who haven’t yet visited, here’s a bit of the journey to Fernwood:
That’s her grave in the foreground.
A few small plants have begun sprouting over the freshly-turned earth.
Despite being the winter solstice, it was one of the sunniest days I’d seen in a long time.
I laid down right next to her grave and just started talking.
It felt so much like the last time I saw her, when we’d spent a sunny
April afternoon lounging under the sun.
I believe Bri is doing much more exciting things than lying under the earth,
but here are some photos of the view she’d have from her final resting place:
I felt a lot of peace being there.
Afterwards, my friend Lydia and I scouted out some delicious food
and soaked up the city that will forever remind me of Bri.
Man, I miss you Bri.
I found my old nature journal this week. My last entry, dated Fall 2008, inspired me to fulfill a dream I’ve been scheming for some time now. I woke up early Sunday morning to begin gathering schizocarps–those helicopters that fall from maple trees–from around my neighborhood. Thanks to the three friends who helped me gather these wonders throughout the day. I will still need to gather more before our next snow fall, if anyone else is interested in helping 🙂 First I’ll share the journal entry, then I’ll tell you about my dream that will soon become reality…
I have become enamored by schizocarps. Seriously?! Billions of twirly-birds all falling to the earth in unison?! Billions of winged maples-in-embryo spiraling over the Northern Hemisphere. Billions over BYU’s campus alone. One afternoon I gathered 4 grocery sacks of schizocarps. It took no more than two hours with 2 of us gathering. The street gutters were lined with them. The grass cupped them like children hoarding candy on Halloween. The sidewalks were blanketed with them- all facing the way of the wind. In the half-inch cracks between cemented sidewalk slabs, schizocarps were packed tightly, nose down, just like an over-zealous litter of piglettes all trying to get a mouthful of teat. I like that metaphor: the Earth as a giant mammary gland, a wellspring of mother’s milk. Countless numbers of tongue-like roots pressing earth-ward, pulling in moisture and nutrients, grabbing hold to the solid ground. Filling and stabilizing. Supporting and nurturing.
My plan is to find a nice courtyard with high walls from which the thousands of schizocarps can be let loose. While the magical spirals descend, people will dance and frolic. Doesn’t it sound lovely? I’m excited to make it happen.
Let me know if you have a decent pile of schizocarps near your house.
My fledgling seedlings are getting so big and strong. I am looking forward to the day when I can set them free outside, and they can bask in an uninhibited stream of photons.
In anticipation of the approaching planting day, I wanted to introduce you to one of my personal heros: Ruth Stout. She is renown intuitive gardener, famous for her deep layers of mulch, and her quick wit.
This past week I took our traveling science museum to Orderville, a town of almost 600 people nestled alongside the Muddy River. We were out of range of cell phone service, but we were just a short drive from some of the most spectacular land in the nation: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Escalante National Monument, Cedar Breaks, Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon… in fact, some 96% of the county is public land. I also learned that after Brigham Young established this city in the 1870’s Orderville become one of the most successful and long-lasting examples of the United Order in Utah. It was a completely self-sustaining, egalitarian community.
It’s still quite the lovely place. The custodians (who cordially helped us unload and re-load our science carts from our ice-covered cargo trailer) knew every kid in the high school by first and last name. AND, get this: the town is participating in a DONKEY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT in 2 weeks. They will ride around on their donkeys right inside the high school gymnasium! That might just merit another drive to the bottom of the state.
I just wanted to share some pictures from some hikes my coworker and I took after our school visits were over. They include snow-covered Zion, Moqui Cave, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes. I was most struck by the latter. I had no idea there where pink sand dunes right outside of Zion National Park. It was amazing to traverse the fine-grained sand, knowing that millions of years ago the surrounding cliffs of pink Navajo Sandstone were once just as free-flowing. I love how the wind writes its history in the cross-bedding. This land carries the tag line: “Greatest Earth on Snow” – my footprint here showed that it is absolutely true.
Today I sat on a log in the middle of a stream in Logan Canyon.
And I breathed in the decaying earth.
And I can see a little more clearly now.
“The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind.
Hone and spread your spirit,
till you yourself are a sail,
whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”