A View (2)

Last year I took a photo in this spot on April 11th. Happened to end up here again today while I was talking on the phone with Nia and realized I should do the same thing again. I lay in the grass under the valley oak at the bottom of the hill, stroked the velvety neon leaves unfurling at the end of every twig and branch, and thought about coming here in 5th grade after endless games of Predator/Prey in the groves further up the Saddle.

If the grass is still this green in April I’ll be very surprised, but I’ll take a photo that day and see. We had early rain this year—a rich rush of green. Maybe it’ll hold on. I’m still becoming acquainted with being here for a full year’s cycle.

A photograph of a green, grassy hillside under a blue sky. There's a line of dark oaks at the horizon and a wash of white cloud in the sky.

Ramble #30

New year, new Ramble.

This one (my 30th since I started this practice in June of 2019!) is about stuff I lost track of in 2021, things I’m thinking about in the new year, trying to abandon perfectionism, what to share and what not to share, the topography of the Ojai Valley, and various other things.

Also: looked at a bunny, found some owls.

You can read the transcript or browse all the notes and associated ephemera over on Patreon for free, or just listen directly below.

A mountain range in the Ojai Valley turning pink at sunset.
January 1st, 2022

[Rambles are typically 20-minute freeform audio updates recorded outside every couple of weeks. You can listen to previous Rambles here or subscribe directly in the podcast app of your choosing with this link.]

Night Owl

I’m lying in the dark, brain whirring. Too much Borges before bed.

There’s a dog baying at regular intervals somewhere down by the river—a canine foghorn. There are crickets, and the wash of cool night air already filing the room. I’m on the edge of going under when I hear the faintest echo of a Great Horned Owl.

It jolts me awake. Ears pricked. Eyes wide. After a moment’s hesitation, I climb out of bed, unlatch the window, and slip into the garden.

There’s no moon in the sky—just a riot of stars, all dull amber and icy blue. I pause, the night chorus seethes around me and then: the owl. Resonant and distant. A warm, mournful sound from the end of the drive.

I pace the gravel in the dark and I am eight years old, flush with the freedom of having snuck out after bedtime, certain I am running away to go on adventures only to stop, as I do now, at the edge of the road. I am wrapped in the scent of pepper trees and dust, soles pricked by scalloped oak leaves. The owl sounds again, but it’s across the street, lost in the tangle of houses that was once an elaborate bed and breakfast.

I remember hovering on the edge of this curb, young and dreaming, aware that everything in the dark was held in a kind of suspended animation. A sacred in-betweenness. I wanted to go further, perhaps even knew that I could, but I was too enthralled with what was here. Every time I’d walk back to my room, or whatever part of the property I was nesting in at the time, and return to bed, as I will now.

Perhaps that was what I came looking for in the dark. Not the owl, but the reassurance that slipping out would still grant entry to this surreal and weightless darkness. Would let me pass my former selves in the drive, circling farther and farther from the cradle, always coming home before dawn.