Visiting North America’s only mainland Shinto shrine (not counting Hawaii) :
From the Burke Museum in Seattle :
What have you found?
Beloved Creator, God of the Universe, open my inward vision to the beauty of your hidden presence. This morning, each day, in all places, may my mind be seeking you in love and delight, most Beautiful Presence. May I be able to see you and know you when you appear in the grace of the world. Fill my mind with good thoughts and deep joy. You are the One who looks out through the eyes of all creatures. Inspire my words and actions to reflect your delgiht, great Light who never expires. You make the darkness shimmer in the night with the stars of your inmost light.
Originally Written April 2nd, 2016
I found these following gems while sorting through my phone-photography.
Early in the year it snowed. We went to the hills to see it up close. I love the feeling of being wrapped in wool when it’s snow-cold out. Only wool clothing is a suitable when you sit down in snow; this way, you can be peaceful and take your time.
At the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, I was surprised by what a beautiful effect the glass separating humans and non-humans has on the photographic lens. In these pictures you can see the telling reflection of the onlooking humans. The effect of a transparent barrier between species is uncannily significant.
Below: words of fascination and appealing design, Kinokuniya Bookstore in Seattle. The company is a specialty Japanese bookstore with only a few locations outside of Japan. It’s a favorite for language-learners such as myself.
Speaking of Japanese inspiration, I got to visit the Pokémon Company International headquarters in Bellevue, WA! Pokémon was one of the original “sparkles” of my childhood that set me on the path of wanting to learn about Japan.
Going for a walk in Seattle on a bright, early summer morning…
I wish all parts of the city were as clean and inviting as this neighborhood. Sadly, Seattle is having a lot of problems lately with chronic drug-induced homelessness, and the ripple effect of crime and filth is becoming a local crises that no one in the region can ignore. While there are several complicated reasons this is happening here, it still doesn’t change the unfortunate truth that I no longer wish to spend time in Seattle city proper unless it is really necessary. Beautiful moments like these pictured above seem to be less frequently found these days. People who have lived in the region much longer than me say it was never like this before. T and I now just want to stay further out, even past Redmond, closer to Issaquah and Sammamish where we currently live. We jokingly say of downtown Seattle, “There but for the grace of Kinokuniya go I.”
This gorgeous house in Seattle probably costs multiple millions of dollars. However, I and many others see that the cost of real estate alone is no where near solely responsible for the aforementioned local problems.
Above: sunrise captured from the balcony of a house on a hill in Bothell, WA. May the mountains watch over us.
Alert! These waters (Pine Lake in Sammamish) contain toxic invasive species you oughtta know about. This is one of those instances where species identification is the real deal, more than a naturalist’s pastime.
Hmmm, something isn’t quite right about this picture… ;3 A morbid sense of humor in a Tacoma neighborhood, anyone?
Now that’s what I call a true enthusiasm for the holidays, for flood prevention and for caution while kayaking: it’s only August, and already these good people are preparing for Halloween!
Perhaps the spirits of the river’s dead will be reborn as…
a kingfisher, kawasemi in Japanese. I love how the kanji for “kingfisher” looks like it’s smiling :)
For your inspiration.
T and I found this tiny little guy! He’s an adorable, special little creature called a Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla). Location: a patch of woods near our home in Sammamish, WA, July 2018. The Pacific Tree Frog above was surely the guardian of the threshold who greeted us on our way into the woods that evening. It makes me think about how the Japanese word for frog, kaeru, かえる / 蛙 , is a homonym for the word return or come home, かえる / 帰る, and also for transform, かえる / 変える.
We don’t know what creature formerly owned this bone, but it was pretty cool to find.
This beautiful little birdy is a Black Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus). He flew into my windshield one sunlit evening this summer. After realizing what it was that made that tiny impact without a second’s notice, I pulled over to get out and go back for the poor cutie. He died on impact. I held his still-warm little body in my hands, and thanked his little spirit for the remarkable opportunity to to hold him, examine his remarkable self up close, and learn from his life. I took him home to let my kitties have a sniff: Mawzawoo had no clue what to do with the tiny corpse, but Aiboorah was adorably desperate to eat it (he got to softly gum the wing for a moment, not believing his good fortune). That’s when we took our little Chickadee body out to the woods, laying him to rest in the hollow of a great Big Leaf Maple tree.
“Three apples, this child,”
says the old woman beside me,
“Not a lot of twins these days,”
observes another: doppelgangers are
rare when nobody can see them.
Three apples, this child,
in the night woods of shadows and comfort, he follows and shapeshifts into a heart-piercing grown male,
she follows and finds him past the known world of her hairlessness
where the inhuman twins are carrying their beckoning apples.
they have fur and heat, too
they appear at the edge of the village,
sometimes with bundles of sweet red,
or green for a love potion
or yellow for the wooded sunrise winding into the east.
they arrive as the old shapeshifters,
beloved hidden in a cloak of marvelous danger
necessary, deeply and heralding
a happy death to all childhoods
song-speaking into warm beds in the great night, telling of futures past
the edge of the nursery
where for untrimmed beasts
at long last, the way is made open,
and the yearning halves of each become each,
these rightful pathways of good shadows,
When I write, who will come to visit me in my words?
Rumi, I also wonder who says words with my mouth.
But when you, Friend, come to my door
I will know to open it for you, and your name
will be the name of all songs.
And by many names do you come!
And through countless faces
you look out at the world in love.
Let me be your abiding place
where you come to stay without worry.
And by the good words that come
from the core of the happy heart,
may your breathing be the life of all lands.
This is what they look like.
Early in July of 2017 I visited my homeland region of the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s something gentle to my heart, a mystery why this place keeps calling out to me with such love over such distance, across time and space. The Sierra Nevada mountains of California, I have long held, are what a heaven shall be like when the great celestial places come to settle their love on our small and intimate Earth, it is told, in the life of the world to come. How I love this cathedral range, mountains of gentler snow and light and love.
I journeyed into these mountains of mine for two days, alone with my little car and a quietness in me, on July 6th and 7th. I stayed at extraordinary Mono Hot Springs, where I wish the likes of me could somehow live with my sweet husband, our two cats, and a sure chosen family-community for the rest of our lives. Of course, this magical little town of a dozen-or-so is seasonal, arising out of the glitter-snows of winter for half the year in hotter days of late spring through early autumn. There are real true springs, there: warm, lovely scented (a good smell of the washing and comforting earth!) sulfur springs welling up from the high meadow paradise grounds. It is said the Original Peoples ventured there, the Mono and Miwok and other ancestral, indigenous travelers from over the range. I speak prayers of thanks and friendship to them while I walk, barefoot and lightly clothed in rectangular fabric, the paths of the little mountain meadow hillsides where these springs of warm renewal rise.
Walking this land, this place I love likely more than any other I have tread or even seen depicted by the captured frames of light, my heart jumps in happy greeting at the sight of familiar specie-friends. What a happy revelation to find that the days of searching and studying the knowledge of these plant and animal species truly does create clearer eyes in humans who go walking int heir homelands. At various times in this visit to the Sierras I was, at turns, lovesick in my heart for feeling, at once, such a great love for this place yet missing my husband and our two little cats back in my current home of the Puget Sound. I wanted, with longing, that all my loves would be gathered together –as we hope for in heaven. No wonder that the images I have dreamt of my original family resurrected to life is of our meeting in these Sierra Nevada mountains.
And here, friends, I speak your names once more, a litany of love and homecoming, of belonging to the profound and sacred heart-comfort of this place. I recorded your good names in a notepad to remember you, that I should not forget I have seen you again. I shall see you again.
Western Juniper – Juniper occidentalis
Douglas Fir – Pseutotsuga menziesii
Ponderosa Pine – Pinus ponderosa
Jeffrey Pine – Pinus jeffreyi
Western White Pine – Pinus monticola
White Alder – Alnus incana
California Bay Laurel – Umbellularia californica
(Up and down the way through Oregon:) – Interior Live Oak – Quercus wislienii
Mountain Dogwood – Cornus nuttallii
Oregon Grape – Berberis aquifolium
Poison Oak – Toxicodendron diversilobum
White Stem Raspberry – Rubus leucodermis
Thimbleberry – Rubus parvifolus
A Gooseberry Unknown
Manzanita (Greenleaf, likely)
also Pinemat, Whiteleaf
Bracken Fern (whom I thought was Lady Fern, mistooken)
Pteridium aquilinum variation. pubescens. Rounded lobes.
Lady Ferm pattern: little tufts along her spine,
Athyrium falpestre var. americanum
Lupine – type? Who, among so many names.
Miner’s Lettuce – Claytonia perfoliata
Paintbrush – Applegate’s, Indian? – Castilleja applegatei species.
Jepson’s Pea –a brilliant pink of hearts! – Lathyrus jepsonii
Gay Penstemon, happy, joyful – Penstemon laetus! –Laudete!
Animals, Animalia, Kingdom
– the Ones through Whom God looks out through all eyes.
Golden Buprestid, a Beetle of Brilliance
Sierran Blue-winged Grasshopper
“Northern & Boreal Bluet”, Common Blue Damselfly – Enallagma cyathigerum
and female var. E. boreale
Western Fence Lizard! Blue-Belly!
Sandpiper (almond orchard, down in the San Joaquin Valley)
Turkey Vultures (different from Condors, the greats)
Mourning Dove, whose song I love, who greets the hot day
and makes her mourning into singing.
Northern Mockingbird, the scout-flapper-flier.
– Do not all these deserve the same love?
American Robin – Turdus migratorius – steady on laws to remind us, to cheer us
Saw somebody with a yellow belly, not sure of his name yet, fine feathers of turmeric.
Stellar’s Jay – his eyebrows stripes of vertical white are different here
than in the Puget Sound. Two light-blue
eyes stripes vertical!
Dark-eyed Junco – Junco hyemalis
California Ground Squirrel (distinct white back)
Raven – Corvus corax –
harbinger unto the end