Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Something in Dirt and Water

Her work
Brings out of dirt and water
A whole thing, a hole where
The use of the pot is,
A container for the thing
Ursula K. Le Guin, from "The Writer on, and at, Her Work"

For all my pretensions to having some, shall we say, class, I like wine in boxed containers. I opened 2 wine boxes like a pro last happy hour: white zinfandel for Faithful Companion and Burgundy for moi. Took the little coin-shaped cut-outs where the spigot protrudes from the box, and presented them to FC in a dish when I gave him his plastic cup of ice chips and white zin. To smell the corks, of course. Today, I’m making white chocolate pumpkin fudge and a sharp cheddar pumpkin tort for tomorrow. Licked the pans. Delicious

Yesterday afternoon, I planted my 5 gal coast live oak betweem the dying pine tree and the big rock in foreground. I hope the tree, now exactly as tall as I am, will outlive us all.

At the Garden yesterday morning, I walked through a tiny part of the vanishing west that is burning away like the morning mist between the hills. In the air was the almost subliminal sound of thunder: the planes at Lindberg Field. When the marine layer is thick enough to reach into our inland valleys on cool November mornings, I could hear the jet rumble sounding like the deep background thunder of the world, funneled east to my ears beneath the low canopy of cloud cover.

We only pay attention when things catch fire. Now that the smoke is only coastal fog penetrating our yard and the garden, we can go back to ignoring our drought. And the vanishing unincorporated clutter of back country lives, stranded among condo developments in the valleys and McMansions on the hill tops. Local water officials voted to continue practicing denial about our water supply. Why ration water before the faucets run dry and before it’s time to pray on the statehouse lawn for rain.

The back entrance to the Garden is reached by a walk down a dirt path leading from a gravel construction parking lot at the neighboring community college. You emerge amid a clutter of abandoned plants, signs, an old flatbed trailer, some piles of compost or broken concrete, old fence posts and concrete planters. I walked beneath 100 year old California pepper trees and surviving eucalyptus trees. Only the strong have survived our sixth year of drought. I walked near enough to smell the native chaparral separating the back lot from the child care center’s playground. The chaparral was so fragrant with flammable creosote, I could imagine the cave torches for giant-sized hands that they make when they burst into flame.

These back country sites still exist, but it was nice to notice one and enjoy its own characters, smells and sounds as I went to planting cool season seeds of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and a million kinds of lettuce. Happy Thanksgiving.

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