Thursday, March 6, 2008

If Ever I Would Leave You

There is a song that has always touched my heart and made me cry. I always thought it had to do with a fear of losing the one I loved . . . and maybe it did at the time. But I'm thinking now that all the anguish that song engenders finds its focus here, in this canyon. When would I choose to leave?

At this moment, just as I'm preparing to go, golden California poppies have decided to cascade down the hillside behind my house. I can almost hear them giggling, they look so happy, as though they're rushing to be first to reach bottom. How can I leave them? Surely I ought to wait until midsummer's heat when the flowers have faded.

Yesterday the cattle arrived to eat the brilliant green grasses that have grown up since the rains. They cross just beyond my back fence, single file. Their strong, solid bodies and stolid manner make me feel safer somehow. In days to come these beautiful, many colored mother cows will give forth little ones. Each morning I'll look for new additions and watch them learn to play with one another, their pure white baby faces and leggy antics a perfect springtime show. How can I leave them? Surely I ought to wait until midsummer's heat has dried the grasses and the cows have all gone home.

And the creek which only floods and flows after especially wet winter storms. It locks us up within our cozy homes until the flood abates, making us feel like pioneers at the mercy of Mother Nature. And then, when it slows and allows us passage once again, how exciting it is to ford a flowing river. Setting us apart from humdrum life. It makes the blood flow faster and warmer, participating in the doings of nature. How can I leave it? Surely I ought to wait until the waters' flow has slowed and slowed and the crossings have dried and I have once again become an ordinary person.

The song says, "If ever I would leave you, it wouldn't be in springtime . . . summer, winter or fall." The reason why the song hits such a tender place? Because sometimes one must. . . .

I know I'll be just as joyful and captivated when Tennessee gives me pink and white dogwoods in the spring and snow in wintertime and the companionship of loved family members. Just now, though, I'm entranced by golden poppies and mother cows.
So, use your imagination and see my canyon where Andy Williams sings of a lover.

If Ever I Would Leave You

Artist: Andy Williams-from his "Warm and Willing" LP
Music by Frederick Loewe and Words by Alan Jay Lerner
from the Broadway musical "Camelot"

If ever I would leave you, it wouldn't be in summer
Seeing you in summer, I never would go
Your hair streaked with sunlight, your lips red as flame
Your face with a luster that puts gold to shame

But if I'd ever leave you, it couldn't be in autumn
How I'd leave in autumn, I never will know
I've seen how you sparkle when fall nips the air
I know you in autumn and I must be there

And could I leave you running merrily through the snow
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire's glow

If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so
Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall
No never could I leave you at all

Transcribed by Ronald E. Hontz

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Flora and Fauna

Well, as you might imagine, my days have been filled with packing boxes with books to go to the library or wherever.  Day of work . . . day to recover.  And I'm not even doing the hard stuff . . . no heavy lifting.  My canyon angel, Roberta, has done that part for me.

But, to get to the heart of the subject matter here, I have to talk about plants and animals, don't I. 

First, the ones I will leave behind.  The oaks that dot these hills are the signature of these oak woodlands.  The ones in this canyon are mostly tremendous old grandoaks, like the one in my yard, broad of girth, tall and stately.  Some, on the steep hillsides are less tall, as their tendency to hug the lay of the land makes their tops broader and lower.  Many of the long old limbs finally go-to-ground and rest while continuing to grow  outward from their centers.

Then there are the sycamores, light in color, tall, reaching for the sky.  The ones here in the canyon are ancient and awesome.  There's one along the road, our ever-changing road which is constantly being washed away and regraded wherever the last flood will allow.  At some earlier time, the creek washed away the soil from its roots, so that it almost stands on its tiptoes.  I never pass it without sending it a silent hurrah for its great spirit that keeps it standing and thriving.  Across the road stands an agricultural pump, about six feet above ground level, where once it sat on soil that was washed away by the creek.  Geology in action.

And, of course there is my great, magical California pepper tree that has been "sculpted" by time so that it's three great trunks lean out from the center to rest their limbs on the ground.  It played hostess to a covey of quail one year, and I watched them come to roost at night, one by one coming out of the tall pasture grass, single file, leaping straight up into the branches, filling the tree with quiet little chortles as they settled into sleep.  The window over my bed would be open when, in the early dawn, first one and then a second and a third little quail would wake and make it's morning greeting to the day.  Soon, the whole tree would be full of beautiful sound, then, one by one, they would drop straight down and scurry off into the tall grass.  Better than a concert.

And then the cats came to live on the ranch.  The pepper tree is one of their favorite hunting grounds and my tree is now off limits for roosting birds.  (sigh)  But the rodent population has been decimated which is a great boon for the ranch.  And these cats are precious and beautiful and endlessly interesting. 

Anyway, I do have several "baby" pepper trees that I've been growing from seeds for years and have had planted in my garden since we moved here.  I hope, with Edward's help, to prepare them for lifting by the time I leave and then to take them to Tennessee where I'll create bonsai trees of them.  They'll have to be protected in the winter, but it will be a great experiment.

So, I've kind of mixed my flora to fauna without intending it.  The fauna I will take with me are my cat Princess and my nine cockatiels.  Three of the birds have already made a trip to Tennessee with me, Walter, Miss Punkin and Turtle.  Turtle was two weeks old when I started driving, a scrawny little thing with beginning feathers that felt like porcupine spines, still encased in their protective sheaths.  By the time Michael and I drove back from Tennessee to California, three or four week later, she was a beautiful pearl cockatiel with soft dark gray and yellow feathers.  It will take some planning to keep caring for nine of them on the road.  But, Nina, or possibly Michael, will be along, and they're both bird experts.  (smile)

As for the flora I hope to take with me . . . or which I have to reconcile myself to leaving . . . are my little mother's irises and roses.  Edward (whom I really hesitate to designate an angel, who frequently calls forth an "oh, you devil" but whose behavior seems to indicate angelhood at times LOL) . . . anyway, that Edward . . . has said he'll do what he can to recover some of them for me.  Let's hear a great big cheer for him.  And if you're wondering why I don't just leave these and buy some more in Tennessee, take a look at the beginning paragraph of a letter my little mother wrote not long before Tony and I moved back to California and into her home.

Hello!  I send you California sunshine before it goes away.  It is so bright I came back in the house to put on my blue blockers and out again to see my little irises that had bloomed for the first time of their life!  Several others are budding to bloom that had been there so long I kept hoping.  And I'm going out often to be sure they are real.
So, that's why it matters so much that I have these flowers that she loved so much.  She would go out in the dewy morning and kneel down to kiss a flower that had just bloomed for her.  And that's truly the way she felt--that every bloom was a compliment to her.  Now, I don't kiss the flowers, but I do speak to them at times.  You know, stuff like, "Mother would be so proud of you."  (smile)

Well, I gave short shrift to why it means so much to me to take along my little birds.   They are like my little babies.  Anyone who has loved a pet of any species will understand, even if they shake their heads at the great number of my little birds.  LOL  Imagine if I couldn't bear to leave the little sparrows I feed or the magpies who hang around looking for handouts.  I will miss them.  And I'll miss the occasional concert of yelps from the coyotes in the foothills around  about and the hawks and kestrels and the two pairs of golden eagles who now and then show us their aerobatic flair.

And, I'll miss my Lucy-girl.  I have been fortunate to be able to pretend now and then that Lucy was my dog.  (smile)  How I loved having her asleep in my little house or hanging about in the sun or shade, just knowing she was around.  What a sweet girl!

Okay, I guess that's enough for now.  I'd better get back to sorting stuff from the BBB (big black bookcase).  More later.