Tamalpais

Mt. Tamalpais from Richmond

Mount Tamalpais from Rosie the Riveter National Park. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Living in the East Bay, our gaze draws westward, and this is not hard to understand. In the west looms San Francisco, our imperial city; our iconic bridges, the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge; winter rainstorms are born there; and the sun, traversing the north-south longitude, sets in the west. And quietly, holding up the sky, Mount Tamalpais anchors my western horizon. Tamalpais is always there, grounding me; at times just in the corner of my eye, and other times commanding my full attention, whether near or far. My love for Mount Tamalpais has grown deep over the years – many chapters of my story feature this mountain. In the 19th century, the ukiyo-e artist Hokusai captured his love for a revered Japanese mountain with his famous series of woodblock prints Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

Inspired by two books, Opening the Mountain: Circumambulating Mount Tamalpais A Ritual Walk by Mathew Davis & Michael Farrell Scott and Tamalpais Walking: Poetry, History and Prints by Tom Killion and Gary Snyder, I persuaded my dear friends, to walk from Muir Woods to East Peak, the top of Mount Tamalpais. At the end of March, we covered a distance of approximately twelve miles, spanning a range of plant communities, including redwoods, mixed evergreen forests, grasslands and chaparral, as well as plants, such as ceanothus, endemic to the mountain adapted to the Serpentine soils. Our journey gave amazing views of the greater Bay Area and we saw Mount Tam’s sister mountains: Black Mountain (west), Mount St. Helena (north), Mount Diablo (east) and Mount Hamilton (south). The artist Tom Killion began his love affair with Tamalpais as a young man, and inspired by Hokusai, he created beautiful prints of the mountain from multiple viewpoints, many of them featured in Tamalpais Walking.

Last week, cycling from Oakland to Richmond on the Bay Trail, I travelled a diverse landscape featuring mudflats so alive with plants and animals coexisting with trucks and cars speeding by on asphalt and cement highways. This is nature – mankind a dominating part of a community of flora and fauna; this is not wilderness. Throughout the journey, there was my friend Mount Tamalpais, on the horizon, a guidepost measuring my progress, a signpost holding close my memories.

 

 

embrace and see

 

Seebeyondmask

Robin L. Chandler, 2018

Some memories are like small towns on country roads;

once well travelled, now enigmas signifying an interstate exit.

Sister reminded me Mom’s favorite perfume was Faberge’s Tigress.

Dad bought her Tigress every Christmas.

Tigress: the sleek bottle containing the amber liquid crowned with a tiger skin stopper.

Unconscious memories no longer a mystery.

“Comprehend without your head

and without your ears, listen

to noiseless, un-mouthed words.”[1]

My mother was a Tigress – that was no mask.

She comprehended the noiseless, un-mouthed words of others.

Listening without her head and ears she always saw the truth behind other’s masks.

No matter how deep it cut-to-the-bone she always spoke her truth.

See suffered no fools.

And she always gave herself away for the benefit of others.

Across time and space I see you.

I embrace you.

I love you Tigress for all you did and hoped for me.

Namaste.

Written while listening to Caetano Veloso singing Cucurrucucu Paloma en Vivo inspired by the lyrics translated from Portuguese to English.

[1]A quote from Attar’s poem The Conference of the Birds, translated by Shole Wolpe

Arc (reveal)

ARC (reveal)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

The room is charged. His eyes two points that arc, revealing his story. He has fought the pain.  But there has been a price. He is so tired and there is so much he has forgotten.

“I sit with this room. With the grey walls that darken into corner. And one window with teeth in it. Sit so still you can hear your hair rustle in your shirt. Look away from the window when clouds and other things go by. [Ninety-seven] years old. There are no prizes.” [1]

[1]Michael OndaatjeComing Through Slaughter

mend (adjure)

Mend (adjure)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

 

Spring has roared awake.

Last Friday’s fervent downpour.

New leaves brilliant greens.

Soft. Supple. Hopeful.

 dear companions, follow Gary Snyder’s footprints:

Hiking Muir Woods to East Peak Tamalpais.

Day born in fog, climbing above misty clouds through rainy redwood rainforest.

Dappled sunshine coastal oaks and bay laurels; woodlands and meadows;

warmth on my skin.

Ridgeline a soft blanket enfolds the city, ocean sleeps

 cozy quilt.

Winding serpentine swale, wild turkey shares stories.

Manzanita blooms humming honey bees.

Twisted Pacific Madrona mark dry north side trail.

Paradox: Winter rains; little fog. A dryland.

Oasis of redwood trees, quench their timeless thirst by a spring.

Summiting: St. Helena to the North, Diablo to the East, Hamilton to the South.

From Tamalpais guardian of the West.

My mind locked in the winter of my Father’s illness. Naked and cold, not yet open to the thaw.

Will the hot sun of New Mexico burn winter away?

William Carlos Williams writes in Spring and All:

“Dead, brown leaves under them

Leafless vines –

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish, dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,

Cold, uncertain of it all

Save that they enter. All about them

The cold, familiar wind –“