Alpenglow. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.
Alpenglow. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.

With a timetable to keep, the sun waits for no one. Rolling quietly out of our sleeping bags trying not to disturb our friend still wrapped in dreams, we emerged before dawn. Our feet heavy, not yet at full speed, our eyes bleary, not yet focused, we wandered to the overlook. The air, cool at elevation, was very dry. We stood on the White Mountains, the highest range in the Great Basin Desert. It would be another blazing hot day, mid-summer, in the Owens Valley four thousand feet below.

The momentary beauty subdued speech. Alone, together in reverence, we spoke only in gestures and whispers. Awake now, we scrambled amongst the sage and rocks excitedly imaging the ever-changing play of light and shadow. The sun comes-a-round again. Now blinding. Now instantly drying the sweat on my skin. No limits on shutter clicks, silently we prayed at least one image would convey the eternal beauty and connection now felt. The simple beauty found in a morning.

Looking west, the alpenglow danced across the Sierras. Standing somewhere between the void and illusion, Michael Cunningham’s Richard, the poet, a central character in The Hours came to mind. Richard, moments before he dies, says “Like the morning you walked out of that old house…and I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful as the sight of your walking out a glass door in the morning…I just feel so sad. What I wanted to do was so simple. I wanted to create something alive and shocking enough that it could stand beside a morning in somebody’s life. The most ordinary morning. Imagine, trying to do that…I don’t think two people could have been happier than we’ve been.” Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize winning fiction concerns three generations of women impacted by Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Eulogizing, Cunningham wrote most of us, if we are very fortunate, are devoured by time itself and “for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined…though everyone…knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish…the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.”



Reach. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.
Reach. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.

We took the back roads, choosing to meander through the country, forgoing the fast pace of the interstate. It was a beautiful fall day – cool in Texas terms — the sky was bright blue and gorgeous cumulus clouds, like cotton balls, soared across the heavens. For over twenty-five years, I have taken this drive with my father to visit my mother’s grave. Reaching out, I took my father’s hand as we passed  farmland, where corn and cotton was recently harvested and now farmers prepare the soil for winter.


Treasure. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.
Treasure. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.

Dick Allen wrote a poem that I treasure. Here are a few lines:

When you love, give it everything you’ve got.

And when you have reached your limit, give it more,

And forget the pain of it.

Because as you face your death

it is only the love that you have given and received

which will count,

and all the rest:

the accomplishments, the struggle, the fights

will be forgotten in your reflection.


Mend. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.
Mend. Robin L. Chandler Copyright 2016.

Mending. Helen Keller once wrote “although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Our garden is blessed with fruit trees and in the fall we harvest pears, persimmons and figs. Generously, we share the bounty with other inhabitants of our neighborhood, our neighbors, the scrub jays, the squirrels and the occasional raccoon. But today I saw my first crow choosing a fig. It reminded me of a story in the BBC news about a little girl named Gabi Mann who made friends with a flock of crows. About five years ago, part of Gabi’s lunch unexpectedly became a feast for the crows, but then something special happened. Gabi started purposefully sharing her lunch with the crows, and as if to mend the relationship – strained by the stolen lunch –  the crows returned, bearing gifts. Four years later, Gabi ritually feeds the birds, and the crows continue to express their thanks with gifts. Gabi saves and savors the gifts including beach glass, beads, lego pieces, and her favorite, a pearl colored heart. Mending.