Katharine Cook

June 19, 1938 to August 2, 2023


I just learned from her daughter Amber that Katharine Cook died peacefully at Marin General Hospital just before noon on August 2nd, 2023.

Katharine was an early student of Shunryu Suzuki. She and Silas Hoadley were married back then. 

Kathy was a dear and gentle woman with a long love of gardening and land and watershed preservation. Farewell dear friend. - dc

Cuke Interview with Katharine which includes

March 2008 knee replacement email

A Green Gulch experience  involving pottery and power sent in early 2008

Incantation for People Tending the Watershed - January, 2008)

Because There was Lagunitas School

A Tassajara Story involving a late night return - sent in early 2008

Taking the High Road, Long Road In - posted 11-26-14

Summers by Lake Water - posted 12-11-14

Speaking of My Lovely Daughter - posted 5-16-16. Amber Hoadley page.

At Green Gulch

Kathy at Green Gulch, 1974 (thanks Amber)

Poems sent May 2016

12-14-15 - A poem from Katharine

How the Park Saves the Wildlife in Me

Whenever the all night industrial street noise

 surrounding my downtown Pt. Reyes apartment

keeps me up all night, finding me desperate

for restoration resources  in the morning. . .

I take myself to the Bear Valley State Park

Visitor’s Center in my ’97 Nissan van,

bought years ago for its spacious interior--

one that could accommodate a sleeping cot

should I ever need that --  and find the

one shady spot under a tree, if I am lucky. 

I put the sun screens up in the front and

back windows, hang my hand-sewn car

curtains on the side windows and sleep well

into the day for as long as I need, to recover

my health, sanity and good will. 

Just now back from a 4-hour excursion,

feeling rested and awake, I am glad to

be alive once more, thank the  Bear Valley

State Park for making my life, both wild

 and tame, possible once  more.

9-15-15 - Harvesting Your Life - audio of radio interview with Katharine's writing teacher and her and three other students - I think that's right. - dc

8-29-15 - from the Oberlin College Philosophy Club Newsletter. Katharine was a philosophy major there.

Katharine Cook ’59 writes: “I continue to be involved in citizen
journalism, writing for the Pulitzer prize-winning Pt. Reyes Light;
writing a garden column for our local website, West Marin Commons; and
participating with the West Marin Carbon Project in helping to reduce
global warming by sowing, distributing, and planting native perennial
grasses that draw down carbon from the atmosphere. I am involved in
sowing the seeds otherwise distributing the native flowering plants of the coastal
prairie as described by Kat Anderson in her book Tending theWild. We
just finished [in early May] a wonderful weekend of the Geography of
Hope Conference that brought together celebrities in the world of
restoration work, such as Diana Beresford-Kroeger, for talks and
seminars. The latter is sponsored by Pt. Reyes Books, who do an
amazing job of bringing folks on the forefront of ecological
restoration to our small town for annual conferences. Poetry reading
and other work is available at www.cuke.com; put ‘cook’ in the search

2014 - Interview with Katharine Cook on KWMR radio in Pont Reyes, CA, interviewed by Lyons Filmer with Peter Martinelli commenting.

- 90.5 Point Reyes Station / 89.9 Bolinas / 92.3 San Geronimo Valley

Thanks to Ms. Lyons Filmer, Program Director, for sending this audio to cuke

11-26-14 - I write an column for the West Marin Commons forum
on a variety of topics related to ecology and economy. . . I'll send
you an example.  mkc

Pretty good.  Love living in this small town nestled between Tomales
Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  Great bookstore, Geography of Hope
Conference every other year, Amber & son Simon close by.  Switching my
focus from mainly ecological restoration to writing. . .happily
working with the Marin Carbon Project:  www.marincarbonproject.org who
are at the exciting cutting edge reducing global warming by planting
pastures of native perennial grasses that bring down CO2 from the
atmosphere and store it as usable carbon in the soil. . . .while at
the same time providing local food.

9-24-13 - Minding the Earth, Walking by Katharine Cook

5-11-13 - Florales Ludi: Festival of Flowers with Games by Katharine Cook

9-06-12 - My Love letter to Plum Village:  Thay Nhat Hanh and the Brocade Fan - by Katharine Cook

9-02-12 - Katharine Cook and Peter Martinelli radio interview, - Festival of First Fruits, is on this page of Pt. Reyes' KWNR's site

6-29-12 - Update on Katharine Cook. Katharine has moved to Pt. Reyes Station, CA from San Rafael 3 years ago, drawn by the natural beauty of the place, vibrant community and other Zen friends -- i.e., Stuart Kutchins, Bing Gong. Her daughter Amber had been living out here for some time. Main activities have been writing for the West Marin Citizen, covering the annual Bioneers Conference, which takes place in San Rafael each October, writing poetry and gardening, hosting radio programs for KWMR. Currently working on an article about Suzuki Roshi's gardens at Tassajara for the Citizen. Hoping to publish first poetry collection soon.

She was able to bring John Liu, the leading international ecologist and film-maker who opened Bioneers 2011, to Pt. Reyes for a conference, and will be continuing to contribute to the Geography of Hope events sponsored ty Pt. Reyes Books. Putting "ecological value and function before an economy based on the production of goods and services" has become her mantra. Her joy is growing heirloom flowers and perennial grasses. Reach her at katharine.cook[at]gmail.com"

Speaking of My Lovely Daughter

I had not known it could be like this: awakened at

6:30 a.m.by the phone ring, I hear my daughter,  

solicitous for my well-being --  inquire after my state of mind.

Would I like to come over and sleep for awhile

on the extra couch bed in their living room?

Would I ever! It had been days with no sleep,

due to the industry, grid and 16 street lights

surrounding my place. No rest to be found here!

“”Yes, I would .”  She arrived in her familiar Toyota van,

offering clothing found for me in the Good Will.

My being sagging, I donned it, followed down stairs into her car. 

She drove to Pt. Reyes Affordable Homes, where she led me

 into her darkened living room, where her dog and another

being boarded  growled a bit.

Led to a low bed in the back of her living room, she

helped me undress into its warmth and abundant covers.

There, surrounded by a welcome quiet dark, was the

night I longed for. Low sound. No 16 street lights, traffic,

nor industry.  Not a womb exactly, but a hefty slice of

true night,  the way the earth feels when the sun is completely

down, the moon and stars up.  I stretched out into the pillows

 the thick quilts piled there.

Did I need any help out of my day clothes? ”A little,”

 I closed my eyes, grateful for the darkness that

filled the room into every corner.  I stretched and turned,

the little dog being boarded  yapped a few times until

 Drew, my daughter’s mate, quieted him down with

some strong orders. I lay there. . . quiet in true rest

 for a couple of hours. 

Then, queried about coffee and toast said “Yes.”

 I was brought to their kitchen table, still dark

 within the outdoor night.

She has a way with foods and service, learned through

 native crafts she has studied. The coffee was above par

with a spicy fragrance. Whole wheat toast, buttered,

cut into attractive shapes with jam offered, a colored napkin,

and company, her caring ways laden with personal artistry:

she showed me her latest beadwork, so careful in

choice of colors—sewn onto soft leather.

I am in awe of her spirituality, so well grounded in her

earth body, the fruit of years of practices: the teepee of the

 Native American church,  Amma from India.

 Her spirit nurtures me like no other.  Her name ‘Amber’

was gleaned from the movie ‘Amber Tibet’ by Houston Smith,

about that ancient community of Buddhist practitioners. 

Lying in bed pregnant I had noticed there were two colors

in the glass candle-holder  by my bed. Amber was one of them.

Katharine Cook - 04.19.2016

Poems sent May 2016

Seen from Where I Stand and Walk

Pt. Reyes Coastal Interface

Solstice Dawn

From within a shroud of fog

banked up on the southeast

horizon, the winter sun emerged:

blazing gold, curls of white cloud

imbued with variegated light

surrounding it –  stunning, rich, orchestral.

But for a moment only.  It disappeared,

then re-emerged spreading light

beams all around, and again was gone. 

A skyful of fog remained leaving one

smooth low band, a trail of buff yellow

within the misty grey.

Olema  Valley, Winter Afternoon

Never have I seen Olema Valley

more beautiful than now, this

winter solstice afternoon. Her sun,

so now low in the southern sky inspires

reflection off the velvet green of

grassland verdure newly sprung from

winter rain, the red-twigged growth of

willow woods, the marshy wetland reeds.

Then comes the last flash of

daylight  across the tower of tall trees,

exclaiming it.

What Air Conveys 

Air, this fragile ocean of air, brings

with her all she’s touched, conveys

to me right now the power and strength of

our towering redwoods, which

within her, bend to me,

informing my very standing here:

my also upright nature, where

pressed against the face and breast

of Nature, I drink to breathe in

the fragrance or the ocean of air,

especially woodsy scented now.

Saffron Robe

With this saffron stretched across my

breast, my heart and lungs, I am folded

into the cloth of Gauthama Buddha–

my human body dressed --  wrapped, covered

with her earth’s geometry of stitched together

equal fields, which in my wearing of them

now become my protection, my

expression, the nutrition of my soul,

the attrition of any negativity.

How this rectangular length of

stitched-together cloths enfolds the

contours of our human shape,

like the touch of the breeze that

reaches everywhere.  How we know

our shape from the earth’s point of view.

Wrapped so, I am joined with all

life on earth which comprises conscious mind;

fields of awareness of five senses: sight, sound,

smell, taste and touch.

Wrapped so, I am here protected In the space

of self and other --  not one, not two -- 

Suzuki roshi said.

This is the adornment of no adornment,

the simplicity of perfect form,

these stitched together fields,

gracing my heart, allow perception,

then expression of my awareness of

our connectedness.

Leaf Fall on Asphalt, Giacomini Way

These leaves fallen onto asphalt

have lost the only thing they

had to give --  their lives to others.

So I have raked them up

carefully, tenderly, carrying them

to the garden, where they now lie,

leaves touching.  Returned to a

common life, they breathe again

in concert with earth below

sun, moon, stars and the

White Tara of air herself, belonging.

Narrow Garden Bed Edging Asphalt

Along, and within the narrow width

of this December bed, its length planted

out to meadow flowers, grasses and herbs,

the calendula spark their fiery orange out,

the brightest in the dark, wet winter earth.

Calendula, or Mary’s Gold, can remediate

biting words with maternal warmth,

 thrives in winter cold contrasting

here with blue viola, lavender stock. 

Growing flowers in Green Gulch Farm

early days, I heard Bolinas farmers

grew stock too, along with other brassicas --

winter cabbage, broccoli –

or the San Francisco markets.

Dotted among them, the artemisia

stream silvery, spread along and through

wet ground, among the frosted maple leaves

laid down for mulch. . . create allure,

express the immanence of warmth in

winter cold.

Calendula, orange. Viola, blue. 

Stock, lavender --  all bloom in cold,

create allure, call out the 

warmth implicit in winter there.  

Adulation for the Fish Chef, Wait Staff, Hostess

Behind the counter, where I sit, these many

slender-waisted wait staff,  all dressed  in black,

bound to and fro before me, nodding greetings,

commingling, staging the offer of one white

oval china platter, bearing kids’ fish and chips,

with a side of slaw:  the presentation:

fresh and uncontrived, the cooking

tender and delectable, combine to evoke

gratitude in me for this one small, delicious meal. 

February Grey Clouds

Grey skyful of February

clouds,  how darkly do they 

brood, hang down spread out

so pressed close onto the horizon.  

Rain is pouring down everywhere --  

Cold. Driving. Hard.

(last quarter moon past Vernal Equinox)

Valentine Sunday, Station House Cafe

As I sit at counter here, they behind it

whizz me by . . . zip, swish!  Wait staff

striding, pony-tails fly, to feed the Sunday

celebrants of a three-day weekend. . .

Valentines all!

Behind them, three chefs, all of significant

stature, one new, each wrapped in his

own white double-breasted chef’s coat,

all three in black caps –- baseball or kerchief,

the wait staff bending, moving quickly,

appear almost to run without legs. 

At the stoves, it’s all arms, hands and

eyes, composing platters, turned out

quickly, an exciting array of select dishes.

All here enjoy the offered foods,

eating, living, loving-- some alone,

some together.

On the counter immediately before me, 

four soup plates line up perfectly. 

Each bears one sparkling clean silver spoon

laid slantwise across it, each at the

exactly the same angle . . .service! 

Next, the empty reed baskets,

each of which floats a single square

of white, waxy deli paper.

Pulling my popover open, I let the

steam pass out, pick up the knife

and spread the butter. 

To my left, the dishwasher-prep cook,

dressed in black, with his two good arms

unloads his racks of clean dishes into

the empty waiting sliding drawers of the

storage cabinet.

Across the room at the bar piano,

a lone woman prevails, pounding her chords out

solo into the full house of an evening crowd. 

Here, another graceful young woman

glides by before me, her long hair

floating out behind her.  

(Before the Full Snow Moon, 02.14)

Tomales Bay State Park Revisited

After a two year absence, I have returned

to a beloved spot, only to be dismayed at

the deep layer upon layer of thickening deadfall.

I behold a forest in decay, an open invitation

to destruction, preventing its own future

by the lack of a possible healthy understory.

There is no more massive destruction to

‘wilderness’ than from a forest fire.  There is no

thriving clean and fertile, nutrient-dense forest

understory without managed fire.

Seeing it so brings back Kat, down on her knees

In musty university basement libraries, who

made it her life work to seek out survivors

from native California, to make friends, ask questions,

listen to stories, to bring forward into present time

how millennia of native Californians managed

the woodlands, the forest spaces, coaxing by tending

the understory into a culture producing foods for

myriad living systems to thrive there,

including us. 

Bearing witness, I stand here wanting to cry out -- 

here where no one is listening --  “there is no true story

of the healthy, layered forest without fire,

nor human food. . . without fire. 

Cooking with fire created, and now defines our humanity. 

There is no food without fire. 

Co-evolving with the tall trees’ high branches densely

loaded with edible seeds and nuts,  our female

forebearers calculated the geometry of the culture

of layered living foods to space these coast live oak

at optimum distances to favor health, circulation of the air,

of light, or rain to reach the forest floor, which then

received the seed, the thriving forest understory

meadows and grasslands, which fed the birds and

animals hunted, and the tribe. 

The staple food was grass seed, harvested by

women with seedbeaters, who could harvest and carry

up to 40 pounds a day.    

Tomales Bay State Park --  which holds, I hear

the purest stand of California native plants

around -- again threatened with closure: 

thriving coast live oak, Bishop pine, shore pine,

red-barked madrone, coast silk tassel, coffeeberry,

evergreen huckleberry, salal, sword fern to name a few. 

Marvelous, inispiring to any Californian to

encounter stands of historical natives still intact,

who tell me not only where I am, but who I am to become,

now here.  

People, animals, birds, insects, soils found

their nutrition here, as they in turn

nourished the systems they took from. 

We could, I pray, desperately hope, we

could remember, relearn how to do this here.  

Tubers in the streambanks tended both for

harvest and stabilization of the bank;

understory soil remineralized annually

through managed fire.

For six thousand years, native people burned

here every October, clearing the kind of deadfall

I see now piled up before me, any detritus or disease

preparing the ground for renewal.  

Reading on bumpers “no farms, no food”

I reply, “no fire in the forest, no understory,

no nuts, fruits or berries, no flowers,

pollinators, grasses no food for people!     

By picking up fire once more, we relearn its skillfull

wielding, reclaim our rightful  place in the natural

order of things, not consumers, not plunderers,

not war-makers, but as tenders of life on the planet,

and that which follows it, that illumination called

awareness of the interdependence that is All Being.

The moist earth, streams, seeps and bulbs,

the tubers in the stream bank require it. 

New life calls for it, the annual managed fire

this time next time, again and again, driving

the pattern of renewal.

There is no true story of the wilderness,

or enlightened forest management without

managed fire, no food without fire.

Approaching Vernal Equinox

Before the Thrift Store, rosa chinensis’ rosy pink

first  blooms, edge winged, fragile into the air. 

Turning the walkway, ceanothus’ densely sweet perfume

drenches me, it clouding up from within its

infinity of so tight, tiny buds.  Next, I bend to delicate

handfuls, small pink bouquets of manzanita blossom

opening, it all budded out  among the natives

lining the walkway to the library.*  Time slows down,

or disappears as we approach cross-quarter day, 

half way between the solstice and the equinox,

called Imbolg, or “sheep’s milk,”  by the Celts,

the beginning of lambing season.  Before them,

Hippocrates said:  for good health, walk among

aromatic plants daily, and bathe in their essential oils.

(*Design by Nancy Shine, Plants by Mostly Natives Nursery  03.2011)

Cherry Plum Bloom, Pink Cloud, Hy 1

Some structure of vision

some neurophysiology in my very

eyes is changed by my now knowing

the flowering cherry plum, gracing these

spaces around us here, came first from China,

then Japan, then crossed the ocean

in the holds of wooden hulls of British

sailing ships, perhaps collected

by one hardy Scotsman in the

employ of East India Trading Company.

Men went for the medicines,

but were taken by beauty; her medicine –

Cherry Plum --   known by Dr. Bach,

to moderate extremes: 

fear of insanity, panic.

First to push out blooms, from

ice and snow, she delights us

with her wafting clouds of

pink. . . downtown, along the highway.

Cloud of ethereal blossom,

impermanence symbol for

Zen poets, festival subject for

Japantown, manifests here her

strength and power, the first

to break out from snow and ice to

herald Spring:  medicine beauty,

medicine Buddha.

Listening to Men Singing

The lengthy preparations were appropriately

time-consuming: setting the stage,

involving the laying out of equipment,

the placing of instruments on their stands,

chairs, and the tip jar, CDs for sale.

The stage then quiet for some time,

with musicians and guests both eating

and drinking, the Station House bar filling

with anticipatory buzz.

In time, the band assembled, the male lead

 led off, and in so doing, filled the bar

with his deep and mournful cry, the band

behind him. 

This is when, and where I found myself

listening to a man singing his heart out,

more from empathy, less from desire, more

from seeking to understand. . .

“it can’t be easy to be a man,” I heard, in

tales of lost love, danger, facing death, poverty

and loneliness.

I noted their women all lined up at the bar, their

pretty faces fresh like flowers, loving,

the men’s more like rocks or mountains,

their values strength, manliness, bravery,

composure, sovereignty.

But somehow, I heard through it all that

the love of a woman came first,

trumped even courage, and

all the rest followed. . .

Struts, frets, virtuosity. 

Geography of Hope, Water

Before those leaders and luminaries assembled

to confer on “water”, Claire stood, reciting,

calling out from memory, all waters in this

domain, every stream, lake, river, bay and harbor

along our coast brought to the assembled.

A powerful evocation of water in place.

Too many to remember all, but I will never

forget the invocation of The Pacific, as a

spiral vortex, whose currents flow down from

Alaska south on our west coast, then circle

Across the wide ocean, to then flow north to Japan. 

Hearing it thus thus made it my ocean in a

way never before imagined, explained

something never before understood about

me and Japan.   

Standing on the shore at Muir Beach,

two decades ago, I was yearning desperately

to swim or somehow be carried across that

ocean so I could study traditional Japanese

pottery with the masters there.  20 years in a

apanese Zen style monastic setting,

practicing the art of the traditional I wanted to

go back to the source, study the root in its

place on the land. 

It was across the ocean from Muir Beach.  


Robert Hass told how the railroads had

followed the river courses across the continent,

something I never knew, how  industry, farming

and settlements followed the railroads,

wound up trashing, polluting the very rivers

that had shown the way across, made it all possible. 

He called on all of us, with eloquence

and urgency to “clean up our rivers.” 

Fair enough.

Striking to me that not one panelists mentioned

the promise and practices of rainwater

harvesting, the most direct and effective

strategy we have for managing either drought

or the ravages of stormwater, or potential

wars about water.

If “world peace” exists, I see it there.

Rainwater harvesting intercepts waterflow

just as it is arriving on earth from the heavens,

make human intervention possible

before a problem can arise.  “Save it on a rainy day”

or manage stormwater before it can damage. 

Watershed by watershed with those with

whom one shares a “basins of relations.” 

Brock gave us the language, energy and insight

inspiring us to action, Bioneers 2005. 

According to John Mohawk’s vision, the survivors

of global warming will be those who can manage

water flow, or lack of it where they are, with corporations gone, because they have retained the ancestral memory of plant cultivation.

It could come down to that, rivers polluted or not. 

Where we stand or drive in Point Reyes,

what is more beautiful than the exquisite lines

of spontaneous musical play that are the horizon

defining the upper edges of our coastal watersheds,

telling us where we are, and if we can see it

where the water we depend on for life itself

flows and is stored.  

Where does rainfall land where you live?

Where does it flow from there?

35.000 gallons cross the lunch shed

roof of Lagunitas school each winter, are stored,

are then enough to water the garden all summer. .

From your roof, how many gallons

per year could you capture and store?

In a cistern, or in the soil? 

When it rains, is what it falls on permeable?

If not where does it go? Can we learn

as a species how to manage rainfall,

prevent stormwater disasters, quench our

thirsts, nourish our crops?

Peaceful management of water requires our

literacy, our collaboration in managing rainfall,

beginning with knowing, then organizing

in the watershed we live in.

The rain from heaven is falling

all around us.  Each of us needs to

know what to do to save the rain.

On Meeting the Host

From within his greeting, front desk,

Station House Café, I feel the

warmth of a generous spirit. . .

this one takes care of us, takes delight

in our expressions, notes our feelings, moods. 

Sensitive, I’ve seen him pick up the

tiniest inattention from across the room. . .

host as servant, as communicator, as convenor.

How rare to meet him in person, named

in this place Dennis.  Physically generous,

sturdy, upright, always in motion,

tractor mind plowing the fields of the restaurant.  

Rain’s End, Break from the Rain

After days on end of relentless rain,

grey afternoons, and cold, I savor the warmth,

relish the candor and company at the bar

at Station House Café. 

Unexpectedly I have lucked into music night –

which brings new friends from out of town

to greet, to meet, the sight of old friends

venturing in to listen.

Who is the quite tall, lanky man Paul Knight is

sitting with?  He looks familiar . .  says he’s seen me

at the Farmer’s market. . . which one?

Ah, the Marin Farmer’s market, selling wool. 

Of course!  It is Arann, the shepardess’ son. 

In here, so warm and dry, cheerful, convivial,

me glad to be here, in good company, 

in from the rain, sipping a mug of kids’ cocoa

laced with brandy.  

Two girl children play off to the side, one in

lavender knit, the other in yellow wrap skirt,

7 or 8, perhaps, practicing crayons in their

coloring book at the bar’s edge, near

Paul’s wife Colleen.

Which scene evokes Arann’s mother’s

Mimi’s work with color:  the exquisite earth

rainbows in her homespun woolen yarns,

dyed imbued with the rich, unexpected

hues of Nature’s  storehouse. . . 

coreopsis, marigold, red dahlia, indigo,

to name a few.

Arann’s invited to play this evening with

new musicians, one lean guitarist,

a mandolinist with wavy grey hair,

Paul on bass, as usual.   

At the bar before the concert, we are easy . . .

eating, drinking, chatting, anticipatory. 

The couple next to me, she, a patent attorney,

he an environmental scientist -- 

have been on a hike in the mud.  

The music starts with Arann leading off

with a hard, driving, oceanic sound,

sing-chanting the story life of a fisherman

at sea, his struggle with the catch and

ocean, the waves pounding his craft,

the boat rocked out at sea, and how he

just wants to get home to his baby.

Next, O Sinner Man. . . where ya gonna run to?’

Singing now through clenched teeth, jaw

and throat, he drives himself hard into

to the raw edge of his own big man power,

from where he projects to the rest of the room

who are clearly impressed. . . Paul’s

melodic and rhythmic generosity

on the bass  backing him up.

Arann, the son of Mimi the shepherdess,

givies birth to an awesome cry of ragged power,

makes me wonder how he got there

coming from all those skeins of hand-dyed

wool, his mother’s gentle loveliness, her

lambs, the girls she loves, knit shawls

from Nature’s flower bodies: coreopsis,

red dahlia, marigold, indigo, to name a few. 

What they share may be intensity. . .

now curious about how this came to be

I must go visit Mimi’s farm in Petaluma,

learn more about that from which she dyes

and see her lambs, Arann’s root.

Finding the Breast, Offering the Breast

Finding the breast denied me in

Infancy, allows the circulation to begin,

the  blood to flow, the breast squirting

its imaginary milk, completes me, as

I begin to flourish actually, communing

with the rest of you: seven consciousnesses

Interact with the 8th, that deepest ground of being.

How many of my generation never

knew a real mother?  I had formula bottles at

regular intervals, was weighed before and after feeding,

never touched or held as it should have been,

according to the General Theory of Love.  

It is, we are, the saffron robe of the

Lord Buddha, the soft okesa of stitched-together

fields that exemplify our human consciousness

as it floats above and interacts with the deeper ground of being.

My own heart, my own breast now

offers sustenance, after seven decades.

Norman said, at her stepping down

Ceremony, Abbess Blanche flowered in her 70’s.

Feeding the Earth Feeds

Love and Understanding

When I eat organic, my body shows me

food becoming energy transparency,

a translucent structure, not garbage.  

For a human being, mindful eating is the

way to and of clear mind, elegance and

protection of the soul. There is no other way. 

Suzuki roshi said, ‘strictly speaking

there is only one Way for the bodhisattva.’ 

Nhat Hanh said ‘mindful eating brings you love’.

Father and Daughter, in Play at

Dusk, around the Pergola,

Station House Café  

Seated on wrought iron, sipping decaf

Earl Grey iced tea, I spoon clam chowder

into my mouth.  On the first hot day of

Spring, I am in the cool.  It is nice out here

among the plants, especially those

ornamenting the pergola --  perennial

climbing hydrangea, roses.  

Diagonally across the courtyard,

outside it, a father with touches of

gray at the temples, 6’2” is minding his

daughter --   a feather-light wisp of a girl,

face like a flower, skittering around

in yellow pants, short flowered skirt,

sweatshirt . . . her blondish hair

pulled up high on the back of her

neck into a braided pony tail . . . who

runs, skipping, amazingly quickly

around the garden perimeter

outside the pergola. 

Utterly taken with this duet, I call

out to the father, saying “she looks to be

less than a third your size,” to which he

replies, saying  “by weight, she is just an

eighth, and I am 215!” 

He grabs her up in his arms, they leave,

I leave the garden, and in so doing

see him carrying out a bassinet which

cradles a very new sleeping baby

from there to enter the car

with his daughter. 

I see that his wife is very beautiful,

clear-eyed with a long blonde ponytail . . .

which explains everything.

Lunch Today was 99 Cents

99 cents --  I loved the sound of it

ringing up on the register -- the

heart of my noonday meal to be: 

one organic carrot, two organic zucchini . . .

all three flown in and trucked here

from Mexico by Covilli.

I cut my carrot and zucchini in the

”roll cut” style learned at Zen Center;

layer my organic veggies over

yesterday’s par-boiled organic

Rosie chicken breast, into a

small, flat skillet on my hot plate.

We have been taught to

fault the costs to the planet from

cost of shipping that burns petroleum

but according to  Gary Hirschberg,

CEO of Stonyfield Farms, the more

important story is the costs of

any non-organic production weighed

against the costs to the planet from

shipping organic.  He claims the

former far outweighs the latter.

So enjoy your lunch of organic veggies

sold at Toby’s, shipped from Mexico

by Covilli without regret.    

(Gary Hirschfield, Stonyfield Farms Organic Dairy

Presenting at Bioneers, 2009.)

Blooms in May

These two kinds of so small

bright flowers blooming here

so close down onto the ground

are both coastal natives. 

So being, they share a privileged

relationship to  light, that being the

light reflected off water. 

Light near or on water has the nature

to magnify, so accounts for the

especial brightness of their loveliness

as their relationship to skies. 

Through the blossom you feel that

special wonder, awe and delight you

always feel approaching light reflected

off water. 

These escholzia Californica

maritima are not the orange of their

inland earthbound cousins, but are

pure gold, deep yellow brilliance

an orange fire in their centers,

their foliage fringed a greyer green

that lasts through winter.

The pink dianthus with deep magenta

centers, also ringed In lighter pink,

grow on the chalk cliffs of  England,

next one another these two

share, express a relationship

to light and water, translate it for

us into another form, one of pattern.

which is why they look so good

together, though they arrived here from

coastlines oceans and continents apart. 

The Virtues of Two, Wait Staff 

Of Joanna, I note the nobility

of her upright stance, head held

high, the level gaze of her awareness.

The disc of her own hand-made jewelry

hangs from a cord around her neck. 

The determination of her pose,

all muscles slightly flexed,

has this young woman poised

with the sure focus of long-legged

shore bird, looking, with an eye for

food, below the surface, under the water. 

Of Hanan, who Mark tells me

Is from Palestine, I remark on

her self-assurance, soft grace and

balance, a headful of shiny black

hair, cut with bangs and two flirty

spits of it framing either side of a

pleasantly rounded face, full

bright red lips, the focus with which

she carries the small round tray of

cocktails, all top heavy in long-stemmed

glasses so nothing spills.

North on One, towards Tomales

Long north on One, past Marshall,

mid-April, all the road cuts here are

banked with mustard, yellow, dense,

floriferous edging the highway for

mile after mile of curving driven asphalt.

This is the medicine to end winter,

Nature’s prescription for depression,

all these tiny yellow-flowered multi-pointed

displays, blooming into a

hundred thousand lights along the way.

Here, everywhere along the road,

mustard, wild radish and cow

parsnip, whose flat white umbel heads

that made the milk grazed by

England’s Jersey cows, the

richest in the world.  

The season changes, brings in

warmth and light as the planet

turns towards May Day, cross-quarter

between Spring Equinox and Summer


Wild mustard fills the road shoulders

climbing the cliffs, lining the

river banks of Walker Creek.

The Role of the Human Male in the Propagation

of the Species, Flower Festivals

As a woman, I am fortunate In having a

male friend, a peer intellectually and horticulturally,

with whom I have earned and share enough

trust and openness to be fully free to discuss 

issues of gender that perplex me, online.

he fact that he had the courage to name “phallus” and “vulva”

 to me in writing, broke a barrier in place

for a lifetime, signaling the certain end of patriarchy.


As it is May, the time of flower festivals,

with no comparable celebration

of the pollinators, we got to wondering

about the role of the male.  My friend

remarked on “the relative insignificance

of the role of the male in the

propagation of the species,” which

got me thinking:

Finding the way into the right place

to deposit the seed, at the right time, feeding,

housing and protecting the pregnant woman

and her children to their adolescence is no small matter! 

Compared to the strikingly visible  image of

pregnancy and child birth the more invisible

role of the male does look to me to be pretty

unglamorous, a lot of hard work one

might not be inclined to sign up for without seduction.

In Christianity, we celebrate the birth of

a male child in December, as the one who is,

or ‘brings back’ the light.  Then we celebrate

his crucifixion on the cross in April, the resurrection

to imply eternal life, which I suspect to a

misunderstanding of how this really occurs.   

In Buddhism, folks celebrate the birth of the

male child in April, he arriving just in time to

be the light, or pollinate the flowers, so that

his continuation, his “eternal life” then

flows from that act as interdependence.

Four Vanessas

As the familiar sweetness of her

speech and manner beckoned

from the table behind me –

never mind her conversation

was with the handsomest man

in the house, I turned to her upon

finishing my cup of cauliflower soup.

Her nearby presence reminded me

that verbena bonariensis along my

garden fence were getting tall,

soaking up May rains and warmth

lengthening out with tiny purple flowerets

appearing at the stem ends, so vanessa

annabella, looking like a small monarch,

was sure to be on its way to

drink from the blossom.  

From there my friend instructed me

in Vanessa Atalanta, Vanessa virginiensis,

and Vanessa carye, each of whose

American habitats she described

and offered up as well.   

Her husband was so impressed I

could repeat all four after hearing them

once, he promised to test me

next time we met.

Vanessa annabella, Vanessa atalanta,

Vanessa virginiensis, Vanessa carye.

Four butterflies that look like small Monarchs.

Bay and Redwood Woods in the Full Pink Moon

On this ‘Full Pink Moon’ night

named for the flowers that  bloom

in its light, we are to here to hear

these three come to play:  Dale

Polissar, clarinet; Bart Hopkins,

guitar,  Blake Richardson, bass,

all three full moon flowers themselves. 

Leading off with the purest of sweet

clean melody, Dale is followed up with

Bart’s lively intellect and passion in

harmony, articulate rhythms in the bass,

with which they take us swooning into

‘Moon River.’ 

Some of us feel the nostalgia,

sweet on melodic honey against a

lyric, lilting background, rich with


They play with soft, yet penetrating

thoughtful awareness, offering up the

sumptuous pleasures of magicians of

the strings and reeds.  Dale, with his white

hair and beard, his tapping foot, renders

the older ballads with an ease and melodic

virtuosity --  a kind of sweetness you

don’t get in a young man.  From the guitar,

masterful chordal harmonies, articulate

lines from a rhythmic bass.

Their beautiful music evokes in me

the sound of rain on roofs, leaves sliding

downhill on the wet grass, piling up onto

meadows where peaceful

grazing occurs, meditative.

‘Time after Time, so lucky to be loving

you’,  rendered with passion from the

guitar, a riff of lively rapid finger work

from the bass.

Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’,

graceful and romantic, closes the set.

Puzzled by the unorthodox

rectangular soundbox on Bart’s

guitar, I inquire of Blake, who relates

the sounding board is made of redwood,

the neck of California Bay.  He says Bart

chose those light, soft springy woods

for a reason having to do with resonance.

Three Riffs on Grass

1.  Lawn Reduction, Easy

Once into it, among the weeds

I note that all I need to do is simply cut

the seed stalks off the taller imported

annual exotic grasses, and let them

fall to the ground.  No regeneration

possible if done before the seed is ripe. 

With that single effort,

The ‘lawn’ can then revert to

Native groundcovers already in place,

wild strawberry, coastal poppy, clovers,

yarrow and other nutrient lovelies that

bloom and leaf out close to the ground,

don’t mind being walked on.

Plenty of room appears to tend

the borders of our beautiful climbing

roses in two shades of pink, and

wisteria, lavender.  Beautiful to boot,

effortless to manage, nothing here

that has to be mowed. 

More beauty, food and life, no

petrochemicals, no money needed

to pay a man to push a lawnmower.


How is it that I find myself cutting

down for “weeds”,  seed-bearing

grasses like those my native California

land ancestors gathered for food? 

I’m doing this to simply have a

place to walk where they would have

swished through in chest high grass 

with seedbeaters knocking the grains

off grass to fall in their baskets. 


When I read about those native

California sisters of so long ago

wading on hill trails through breast high

grasses harvesting seed together,

I long to walk back through time,

Into and through the pages of

Malcolm Margolin’s Ohlone Way

to arrive in the native California

past, go there, be with them, walk

the hills where they walked with them.

And gather seed for food for my


More than anything else,

that is what I want to do. 

Fashion Page, Miss June

Wheeling Grocery Cart with

Clementine, Palace Market

Exiting through tall glass doors, that

swing wide open, open, I am startled

to behold Miss June wheeling out

before me, her daughter, Clementine

riding happily high in the cart seat

over the groceries, waving a drum on a

stick with feathers, wearing an Indian headdress,

purple knit shawl, with upside-down

triangle pattern in red striping on a tan

skirt, black cowgirl boots, all gifts from a

dumpster diving friend, I later hear.

Miss June, so pretty, lithe and

physically engaging, as ever, is wearing

a short black jersey dress, light grey hooded

sweater, moves dancer-like, lightly elegant

even on very pointy brown leather high heels.

Striped leggings, black, grey and brown wool

scarf complete the outfit.

It’s how she moves, the way she’s

Created this fun theater with Clementine,

 an improv dancer expressing delight and

perfect joy that makes the scene so unforgettable.  

A welcome contrast, this exhilaration,

after the humdrum, mechanical taking of

money in the checkout line.

Witnessing the Production of Wealth

After overhearing some discussion of

this last night at Pub Night, with a lawyer

financier and retired corporate chief, I

’ve been reminded of how my elderberry

does it as the only tree I planted in my

garden strip, to echo the only other large

existing tree in the area, a cotoneaster across the lot.

Another tree was needed to balance the space,

echo the shape, create structure and a connection

in dialog. The blue elderberry would grow to

about the same size, a more native counterpart

to this exotic, get something going on the land.

Because of the strong coastal wind sweeping

across that lot, the tender elderberry sapling

could not grow straight up fast, but had to

measure  its leaf production carefully against

the available light, wind and ground mass.

And so it stayed low, and started spreading horizontally,

proliferating leaf mass like crazy, close to the ground,

where it could become the wealth of leaves

created in harmony with the available sunlight,

wind conditions and topography. 

It did so perfectly, producing an unexcelled

leafy mass turning CO2 into oxygen, creating cover,

saving moisture in the soil. 

It created a beauty perfectly expressive

of the time and place, which could not have

been imagined beforehand, as life

responded directly to responded to conditions. 

Given the prevailing wind and  weather,

it may take some time for it to create a mass

able to dialog with cotoneaster, but when it does,

it will be an amazing expression of t

time and place on this lot, anchored in the

completely durable value of its being here on earth.

Solstice Dawn

From within the fog

shrouding the southeast skyline,

the winter solstice sun dawns,

streaming light beams, then

gone into fog, then bursting

glorious through banked up clouds.


The land that cradles water

Is the land I want to live in.