Thursday, April 11, 2013
The chamber and tunnels are carved from thick stone. Though there are walls and an overhead roof, the chamber and the tunnels are filled with light which is clear and bright. It holds a pinkish, golden hue that is diffused and does not seem to come from a singular source, rather it seems to both emanate from and come into the space, like a continuous and simultaneous inhalation and exhalation that emerges from the plants and water and sand, from the overhead rocks and walls.
The ground of the central chamber is covered in a thick carpet of sand. It is grainy and the color of butterscotch and holds the warmth of the pink golden light in each teeny tiny stone.
The ocean is here in this space. It is here, emanating and pulsing, dousing the space with the calm reverberations of constant trance-like movement.
A row of lifeguards, seven men and women wearing matching red bathing suits, stand in a line, all leaning against a large blue van that faces away from the water source, they stare at the stone wall.
The bed of sand spreads out into the tunnels for several feet and then tapers off into smooth, worn stone. There are engravings in the tunnel walls and floors. They are ancient and left by careful craftsmen several thousand years before. Dug from the ground, beside a fern growing from a crack, is a bowl in the shape of a sea-shell. The edges of the small pool are scalloped and inside is a bit of tepid water that has grown a bit of vibrant green moss that gently sways.
The water is sweet and little birds use it for drinking and for baths. The tunnels are bright and just as light as the main chamber. The enormity and strength of the stone walls are balanced with a cool breeze and foliage and a sense of openness.
The chamber is soft and calm, the ocean so tranquil, the tunnels decorated so beautifully. I cry for the beauty I see.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
The ocean is dotted with white caps and shrouded by mist. From the cliff side it appears pale blue and ephemeral. On the dunes, wisps of sand are lifted by the constant ocean wind and sweep over the rich array of yellow, pale red, pink and green hues of the succulents and thin desert grasses. The plants bend in the wind and seem malleable by nature and design, built to tilt, but they stay firmly rooted.
The nest of trees grows on the edge of the cliff, the massive cluster of roots holds the sandy soil together with their weave of hardened lumber. The collection of cypress have grown over the years into a dome shape, creating a rounded shelter protecting the center from the ever present ocean breeze full of seaweed scent and salt. The majority of the rough trunks are stooped from years of strong winds, some of them grow thick, yet almost parallel to the ground.
Within the dome, which is open and free of vegetation but for the blanket of brown, fallen cypress needles, the air is slightly warmer and nearly without breeze. It smells deeply of earth and soil and just a hint of stagnant soil.
There is a small pile of wood on the ground just a few feet from center. It has been reduced almost to charcoal and only a few blackened logs remain. An empty 40oz bottle of the cheapest variety is lodged between a thicket of trucks along the edge of the living wall; the trees are cluttered around the periphery. Dozens of trunks grow almost on top of each other, emerging from nearly the same space in the earth, their branches compete for sunlight, struggling upward despite the force of wind.
A topless girl is dancing, protected by the wall of trees in all directions. She has on tight jeans so faded now that the fabric appears gray. Though her pale skin is protected from the ocean air by the shelter of green, her nipples are pointed, still reacting to the sunless sky.
She runs back and forth from her camera to a wide space in the center of the dome, twirling her body as the green light on the camera blinks in perfect rhythm until it doubles in speed and then beeps and the flash ignites, lighting her pale skin for a moment of further brilliance.
She runs to check the camera, sets it again against a small fallen branch on the ground, then sets the timer once again as she runs to the center of the needled floor, waving her arms around her in a motion of ecstatic abandon.
A seagull caws somewhere close by, its sound carried like the salt and seaweed scent. The girl swings her arms, juts out her hips, and looks once more at the camera.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
A swooping black tar road hosts the occasional SUV or Mercedes- all of them gleaming and clean, freshly buffed and waxed. Their sound is rushed and jarring next to the park where there is a muted activity. There are sounds there, the place is not silent, but the hum of bees and flies are completely overwhelmed by engines and wheels and a two-ton car speeding forty miles around a curve. On its face the park is empty, but just a tiny bit of time and attention reveal the relentless activity- the wind and rustle of branches, nectar gathering, the click and pops of insects and endless bird calls that come in sporadic intervals.
From the street the park is reached by a path made of dirt and miniscule gravel just bigger than grains of sand. Down the tree lined path is a green and chrome water fountain with three spigots, one for adults, one for children, and one at ground level for animals.
Several steps more and the shaded canopy of young planted trees recedes. Here is the heart of the park, a series of concentric circles around a single sacred oak in the center. The entire space is designed around this oak, perhaps seventy five years old. It grows from a raised bed about fifteen feet wide and three feet off the ground which is supported by a stone retaining wall made of dark, smooth rocks the size of human skulls. The bed provides ample space for the mature tree roots to extend into the soil and towards the water table. The oak has a wide bushy canopy and its small spiked leaves are green and bright, its thick trunk is a pale whitish gray with many darkened scars.
The main trunk branches into several smaller limbs before forming the thinner jagged boughs which sprout its shade makers. Planted around the tree are long green stalks of iris which rustle in the slightly cool breeze and several dozen rosemary shrubs, both upright and cascading low-growing varieties that act as groundcover. They also provide an endless release of perfume. The plants are in full bloom and there are small, bright blue flowers all over the long, pungent needle-covered fingers. Bees busy themselves, flying from flower to flower in glutinous indulgence.
Surrounding the circular raised bed is a recessed wider circle of slate stone which forms the smooth pedestrian walkway. From the edge of the raised bed to the exposed earth at the edges, the circular walkway is about seven feet wide. The large pieces of slate are laid in a non-symmetrical pattern, looking like a mosaic all made from the same pinkish hue of stone. The man-made floor is littered only by a bit of dust and a few fallen oak leaves and it is warm from the strong morning sun.
At the perimeter, where slate stone and earth meet, are the benches. There are five of them equally spaced around the central oak tree. All of them face the interior, an open invitation to ponder the beauty of the sacred. The benches are worn and weathered, their luster gone except for the bronze plaques which are screwed onto the back. Between each bench is a single, yellowing gingko biloba tree. They are young, perhaps only 15 years old. Their trunks are still thin and their leaves hang downward, getting ready for the upcoming fall when they will turn a brilliant yellow and drop.
Behind the benches are the lavender bushes, their flowers are grayish purple and crusty from late summer heat, yet still give off a mildly sweet and cool smell which trumps the scent of wetness and mulch where the sun has not yet warmed the hill on the west end of the park. There the earth is still moist from the morning dew and the small rosemary shrubs hold onto glistening droplets of water in their flower faces.
There is the sporadic click of an insect in the underbrush. Lawnmowers grind in the distance, some sounding louder than others and taking on the high pitched whine of flies. Several songbirds hidden in tree branches call back and forth in shrill voices- ahhh ahhh ahhhh. Three crows fly by overhead, headed from the northwest towards the southeast. They are several hundred feet away, they glide like black angels. A white plane cruises from north to south, looking even smaller than the birds.
Filling in the outer edges are larger trees, some of them oaks. The earth is a mixture of mulch and crispy tan oak leaves and fallen rosemary needles.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Magenta bougainvillea and dark purple morning glory vines wrap around the single room cottage like a pair of breathing arms.
There is a narrow walking path on the periphery of the home which climbs ever so gently up a subtle slope in the landscape. The path is augmented by five weathered wooden steps as it climbs.
A black cat, its coat warmed by the bright heat, sits licking its left paw on the second step.
The main space is wide an ample, though its space is taken up mostly by furniture. Upon a large area rug of muted red and orange hues are two couches facing each other and separated by a long wooden coffee table.
The aesthetic is warm and country-like. Soft throw blankets are folded and draped over the back of each sofa. The kitchen is separated from the main room by just a four foot high wall which can be used as a tabletop. The kitchen space is dim, though the honey colored wood of the cabinets glows faintly with colorful warmth.
The house is well used and the mismatched contents are rustic and well worn. Everything inside is meant to be touched and used and laid upon.
Two brunette women stand beside the coffee table, both of them looking at the pair of double wide glass doors along the side of the living room.
The west side of the cottage meets the ocean. Large waves break and explode onto the strong doors, leaving streaks of white foam dripping down the sides. There are brief intervals between waves, a mixture of blue and opalescent green presents itself before vanishing into bursts of frothy saltwater.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
The sidewalk reverberates with the thousands of cars driving overhead, coming into me through the sole of my shoes and then up through my legs, venturing further within. The sound of the combined motors, all swooshing and speeding so high above is like a mechanized river, sometimes fading in and out with strength, but never ceasing.
On the street in front of me, shadowed too by the freeway overpasses above, is a white car. It is the kind of vehicle used for commercial purposes. The kind with tools and extra seats for capable men and a spot for a water cooler in the back. It is a new, still shiny, clean and white, baring none of the scratches of a well-worn vehicle.
There are a dozen police milling around the vehicle. Some have climbed into it, pulling open the screwed in seats. Others look through the dozens of compartments along the sides, pulling out tools, inspecting them, holding up greasy bottles to the light.
Inside the car I can see a brown skinned man crouched in the compartment below where a seat cushion would have hidden him. The vinyl seat is still in a police officer’s hand as he shouts orders. The man is wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. He remains in the fetal position he had been in as the shelter is revealed, stunned, blinking at the new source of light. Several Latin men are already on the sidewalk, laying flat against the ground, their arms handcuffed behind their backs.
The cops' voices are loud and harsh. The motors of the half dozen police cars are still running, their lights are on, the bright colors of their screaming sirens diffuse into the day. The smell of car exhaust is strong, unchanging despite the steady breeze.
People in business suits walk by the scene undisturbed. Most give only a passing glance to the white commercial vehicle and its occupants. Women in gray dresses and lipstick, men carrying briefcases and sacks of takeout from nearby restaurants. Barely a glance at the scene. A breeze blows past me, sending chills over my sandaled feet. The chill rises, finding my chest.
The police men are pale and distant, uncaring in this bust spawned only by human need. Their bodies are big and covered in muscle, covered once again by thin blue fabric. Their guns are black, somehow glistening even in the shade of the multiple freeways overhead.
My white skirt blows in the wind, tempting my calves with a delicate touch. I am cold, standing in the shade of a thousand moving cars.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The hills are blooming brightly with wild mustard plants that reach five feet in the air. They wave in the wind, bending easily on their thin stalks. The yellow blossoms are like an electric lamp blaring loudly into the midday sky. They cover the hills in a dense world of vibrating yellow, painting a nearly perfect blanket of uniform color, a pattern changing with each new breathy gust. Moving not in unison, but in a myriad of shapes and directions that change continuously, rapidly, leaving not a moment for reflection.
Ahead is a gray sky. It is dark and verging towards black, just one step from madness. Huge puffs of water filled clouds hang overhead, threatening with their very color. Towards the right, to the horizon in the east, the clouds are bubbly and pale gray. I can see one small patch of blue fighting through a thick blanket, another color adding to the living palette.
On the right side of the highway, at the base of the hillside, are the plastic orange cones and metal road signs of imminent construction, though not a soul in a hardhat walks beyond the temporary cement barricade that separates the road from the construction zone. Piles of stacked lumber lay waiting, sitting beside metal bound packets of rebar and thin poles, themselves wrapped in sheets of thick plastic wrapping. Small peaks of sand and dirt wait for use below blue plastic tarps, the edges flapping just slightly in the wind
I stare out though the slightly dirty windshield. The contrasting colors of the world losing no brilliance despite the thin gauze of accumulated dust and orange splattered innards of unfortunate bugs. I avoid turning my head, but through peripheral vision I see the red, black and white of passing cars beside the windows.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
The room used to be a store front of some kind, but those days are long gone and now it stands almost devoid of personality. The walls are white and bare- the overhead lighting is blunt in its effectiveness, just bare bulbs screwed into the ceiling. It is basic at its more stark- like a prison cell. There are bars over the front plate glass window, which in theory protects the inhabitants from any wandering predators outside. The window is blocked from the street not just by metal bars but also by a large single piece of white painted particle board. The room is rectangular, efficient in its size.
Half a dozen people fill the room, all of them sitting in cheap cushioned chairs that are decades old. There is a heavy set young woman sitting on a chair towards the back left corner, she has a crocheted multicolored blanket across her knees. Her skin is pale and her hair is dark and stringy- she looks sixteen or seventeen and very small. She looks lost in the expanse of the room, lost even though I can see her and she can see me.
Five feet away from her is a man in his 20s, he has a scraggly blond beard and a tiny pot belly covered by a blue tank top with orange edging. Next to him, his 2 year old son sits happily on a chair. Almost all the eyes in the room are on the boy, a somewhat happy and clueless child who does not seem to mind being in the white vacuum of the space.
There is a young woman with dark hair closer to the door. Her arms are on her knees as she leans over, looking into my eyes. Her face is desolate, her eyes dull and without any expression, like she has seen a thousand horrible acts and closed herself off to all of them, resigned to her fate now.
In front of me, the only thing on the wall, is a cardboard cutout of a TV set. It is designed to look like an old fashioned analog TV with two knobs that were once used to change channels. It looks like something left over from an art class, perhaps a project critical of the media. The screen area is grayed out and the entire thing is two dimensional.
It is silent in the room. I can’t even hear the buzzing of the lights.