“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
— Edward Abbey
For this week’s photo challenge, Tina invites us each to pick our own theme. Having just returned from three months in California journeying with my family of origin through my mother’s hospice care and death, I have new photos to share and a complex perspective.
A jewel in the sparkling allure of California to me is my siblings who live there. I reconnected with them in an intense situation and discovered that they are exceptional human beings…and they really do like me, after all!Our days together were full of the poignant joys of life: memories, change, and resilience. We hiked the mountains, beaches, and urban green spaces to keep a grounded perspective. The natural surroundings in California are breathtaking, but the impact of humans is often completely overwhelming. While I was there, record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic wildfires, and the Covid-19 virus often prohibited us from leaving the confines of our protective shelters. How ironic that the things that make California a popular place to live also create the populations that make California unlivable. Finding a sustainable balance is the never-ending challenge here.
“It was a splendid population – for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home – you never find that sort of people among pioneers – you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day – and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, “Well, that is California all over.”
― Mark Twain
How to live gracefully on this planet, in a human body, with all the complex interactions going on all around me, continues to be the challenge that I strive to meet. Grace is an attitude of balance and mercy, I think…but I’m still pondering it.
“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” — Roald Dahl
Some recent nonsense…
And some nonsense from ‘then’…
My family has gone through some very painful and pivotal changes during the pandemic. However, we all manage to make each other laugh even in the midst of difficult times. Yesterday, eleven of us gathered to lay my mother in the earth to join my father, my husband, and my sister. We were outdoors and masked. Our next gathering will be a Zoom call for Thanksgiving. I’m confident that there will be some nonsense and laughter again.
Thanks to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and giving us occasion to reflect on the differences and similarities between Now and Then.
“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you! I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, Since we’re together we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, Won’t you please? Please won’t you be my neighbor?” – Fred McFeely Rogers
On October 22, I took a walk out the front door of the house in California where I lived in as a high school student. It’s a neighborhood that I haven’t seen much of in 40 years, and it’s pretty exotic to me. It’s changed a lot from what I remember. Some of the changes are quite jarring: new streets, new buildings, new power lines, fewer trees, and formerly pristine mountain slopes dotted with new construction. There are a lot of new neighborhood sights to get used to.
As I headed up into the foothills, I found wilder neighbors. Black-tailed deer are not quite what I’m used to. In Wisconsin, where I lived for the past 9 years, it’s white-tailed deer that you see everywhere.
When I got to the top of the hill, I looked back down into the valley and saw this view of Santa Clara County, with the tall buildings of downtown San Jose in the distance. There are close to two million people living down there!
This is actually the 33rd wealthiest town in the nation. There are a lot of people with high-end tech jobs, high-end tech toys, and high-end recreational hobbies. Heading back down the hill into town, I went past the church where I was married, where my sister, my husband, and my father are buried in the garden Columbarium. As it turned out, my mother passed away in her apartment down the street from the church that very evening. Her ashes will be buried in the garden on Friday.
So what is a neighborhood, and who is my neighbor?
We all share the same air, the same water, the same soil, the same sunshine. Whether we feel seen, known, memorialized or not, we live and die here in proximity with every other Earthling, human and otherwise. We are all in relationship with each other. We are neighbors. As such, we should treat one another with kindness and care, check in, and keep in touch. It’s just neighborly.
Thank you to Ann-Christine, who is our host this week for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.
“There’s got to be a morning after If we can hold on through the night We have a chance to find the sunshine Let’s keep on looking for the light…” – Maureen McGovern
“Here comes the sun, do, dun, do, do Here comes the sun, and I say It’s all right Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here…”
– George Harrison
“I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day…”
– Jimmy Cliff
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry Sunshine on the water looks so lovely Sunshine almost always makes me high
If I had a day that I could give you I’d give to you the day just like today If I had a song that I could sing for you I’d sing a song to make you feel this way…”
– John Denver
I am feeling more sunshiny this morning than I have in a loooooong time! Our life-giving Star may be 93 million miles away, but it is the constant in my life that never fails. Civilizations disappoint; human systems are always flawed, but the Solar System is going to be supporting life for a good while yet. And sometimes, I feel like even human beings might be rising to the challenge of being bright and warm!
“Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day…”
– Paul McCartney
Special thank to Ana, our Lens-Artists guest host for this week’s Challenge. She picked the perfect theme!