Jack Saturday

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

One Fine Day

Decided to take my outdoor reading and writing hour or two yesterday to a certain nook on the pebble beach of Ross bay, a little interior corner where a large driftwood log angles in to a basalt outcrop—good view of the bay south and east, and in distance the morning joggers can be seen behind the cement wall.

The beach was mine for the entire time— I had the deed and the keys to it-- mine and one gull patiently perched on a driftwood root nearby presumably hoping for food. Other gulls and crows around. As I walked my bicycle in there, I saw that someone had left a few items on the big log: a very small stick, a little round piece of red plastic, a twist of some fuzzy material, two nondescript little gray stones which may have had some extraordinary color or pattern when wet. I had picked up a little discarded combination belt-clip/flashlight, which I left among the modest treasures.

I sensed a female spirit in the bricolage, but could be wrong: an alchemical act, against the backdrop of grandeur there to the south, and the beach of rocks and pebbles by the millions curving off up and down-coast: these little items selected, taken up from the mass/crowd and gently left there in a constellation—an alchemical/soul act retreiving the “ejectus in viam,” the little thing lost in the multitude, tossed aside. Jung explained that this is the Self, ”the smallest of the small,” that is given no value in our world.

I stopped to consider a constellation of the Self in this modest unsigned presentation in the grand unpretentious gallery between sea and graveyard on a little flat part of a great gypsy salt-whitened sea-traveling tree-trunk. She or he, I added my blessing to their soul.

Then I went to California to listen to Chuck Dederich giving verbal haircuts to young junkies in the early 1960s, as the gulls cried and sea lapped, swelled voluptuously up and then down surface-jutting rocks. Cultivating solar serenity. I was down there after midnight a few nights ago when the moon-path was mine, cultivating lunar serenity. And between, constantly cultivating earthian serenity. I don’t want to douse this bonfire within me, but find a vessel for it, perhaps a solar panel.

On the way back through the graveyard, saw a deer there for the first time since I've lived in this city. An adult doe. She was alerted to me as I stopped to chat, but was obviously unafraid, cropping some new grass. Observed that her rump was higher than her shoulders, that her ears were much larger than I would have thought if asked to draw a deer from memory. Like the big-eared face of the kangaroo. I’d say I was seven metres from her. I spoke quietly, watched her ears twist around like we used to adjust rabbit ears on Jurassic TVs, changing with the changes in my voice. I told her what I wanted, and asked what she wanted. I might have expected her to laugh at that point, a human asking what he could do for her—in this dry summer she has come from devastated habitat in search of water and forage—she must have walked city streets and sidewalks to get into the cemetery.

There were areas of perfume in the air along the streets of Fairfield. Autumn peeks over the hills at us, the plants exude their gifts, triggering half-memories “from the beginningless past” (Buddha said memory is perfuming). St. Charles St. is worth a special outing to experience this time of year, I don’t know what kind of trees they are but it is the most fragrant street in Victoria just now. There must be an olfactory G-spot that brings forth the otherworldly cache of ancient memory such smells evoke but as yet do not fully deliver. Free aroma therapy! I suspect that the deer and all the dogs along the beaches, whatever their pedigree have that G-spot on all the time. I suspect the experience is full aliveness, or what Lévy-Brühl called participation mystique.

Wending as usual slowly back from my afternoon hour or two at the old stone-wall on a great field in the Lansdowne campus, Camosun College, the one graced by a tremendous giant oak like something Jack might find up in the country of the Giant, I concluded that the time of my daily cupped handful of blackberries from a low bush there is soon to end for the year. The berries are particularly ripe. Students, of course, don’t pick them because they are free—of what value is anything you don’t pay for in a fancy store, in an expensive package, or in a restaurant? Shit, it’s like popcorn you make yourself to take to a movie—not real popcorn, from the concession stand, at $50 a kernel. Blackberries come in constellations, each berry a constellation of small berries (called drupulets), and the full berries arranged in clusters. Constellations you can eat, soon behind the horizon like last night’s setting moon.

Towards evening, following links June Bender sent over, I listened to an audio piece online, Deepak Chopra talking about a certain meditation retreat he took in North India, near the end of which birds would come to the meditators and perch on them without fear. On Gambier island in 1987 near the end of a ten-day Vipassana retreat I tried on the recommendation of my friend Lucy Wimbush, a squirrel ran right up to visit on my knee as I sat with a plate of food.

Lucy died a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know where she is now, or if “location” is something you transcend. I have compassion for Doug and their two wonderful kids—who I haven’t seen for a few years—for them it is a long time not to have her. For myself, over 50, it’s like, hey—see you soon, Lucy—even if it’s 40 years.


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