Happy Feast of Brighid

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I thought of calling this post “Stupid Groundhog” but why be so negative?  That “Will there be six more weeks of winter?” question was meaningless back in Pennsylvania, where I knew I couldn’t get out in the garden until late March – and then only on good days.  It is equally meaningless here in the desert southwest where this is the beginning of spring.  But I suppose there must be some place where the question is worth asking.

I’ve celebrated the Feast of Brighid instead for several years now.  She is a Celtic goddess who is also a patron saint of poetry and smithcraft,  I use this date as a moment to consider what I’ve accomplished since the solstice, and ask whether there’s anything I’d like to do differently in the approximately six weeks until the spring equinox, that official start of spring.  Working for myself, I don’t have any deadlines to speak of, so a check-up point seems like a good idea.  But, since an artist never really knows where she’s going, it is all approximate.

One thing I do know.  This is the date when I realize that once again I am behind on the garden work.  So many plants should be cut back in January, I never get to them all.

Close up of rosemary branches that need to be cut back.

Close up of rosemary branches that need to be cut back.


Balboa Park, San Diego

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On a recent visit to San Diego I made a visit to Balboa Park.  We had been there before for the organ concerts, but not seen the rest of it.  We didn’t see “the rest of it” this time either, but we saw a little more than we had before.  The organ shell was, of course, shut this time:


The shell is hiding here behind the curved portico, because we were headed for the palm canyon across the street.  The most impressive tree in the palm canyon area is not a palm, nor is it a strikingly tall tree, if you don’t count the long exposed roots which extend down the canyon.  Here is my attempt to give an impression of this tree:

tree top

tree trunk

tree roots




Because the tree is surrounded by others it was hard to get a long view.  These photos were taken from the stairway down into the canyon.

Those of you who have been following my previous posts will recognize that I have a fascination with roots.  Unlike my other photos these roots were not crossing a trail.  They were just there, being themselves, being admired by people like me.



Even in this well maintained park there were things growing where they “weren’t supposed to.”  This branch was particularly colorful:100_0973








Questions of Scale

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Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa, a member of the rose family) has been in bloom in our area recently.  I first learned about Apache Plume in a nature guide at Dripping Springs, a BLM recreation area in the Organ Mountains.  Nothing was in bloom at the time; I could not guess which plant beside the trail the guide referred to.

Reading that the plant was named for the seed plumes, which look like Apache war bonnets, I pictured something grand.  It was at first a disappointment to discover that the five-petalled white flowers are about 1 ½ inches across.  The seed heads are pink plumes of about the same size.  The pink soon turns brown and the seeds are blown away by the wind.  The plant is beautiful in bloom, in the seed stage or, as here, at half and half.  The season is short: for most of the year all one sees are the small clustered leaves on an often straggly plant.

Who first saw a war bonnet in this small, delicate shape?  Was it someone for whom raids by Native tribes were a real and present danger?  Was it someone who recalled such raids as recent and treasured history?

To see the large in the small requires a certain kind of creativity, a talent for comparison across difference.  To see the small in the large may be an even rarer gift―or perhaps it simply is not mine.  The ability to see similarities in things of different scale is the way of metaphor, an important tool for poets and others who seek to see things in fresh ways.