This past weekend I went to Santa Rosa Island which is part of the Channel Islands National Park and is really an extension of our backyard in Santa Barbara. Almost every day I look across the Pacific ocean and smile at the Islands; she always greets me back with a hearty hello, one that’s enduring and familiar, old and wise, compassionate and strong, a hello that’s felt in the bones, confusing where my greeting ends and hers begins, a mirroring, an echoing. Perhaps these Islands are more than just an extension of Santa Barbara’s backyard, and quite possibly we, her admirers, are also extensions of her.
She held me for four days with such grace and tenderness balanced with all her strength and might. At night the winds howled through the canyons, blowing sand through my tent and making sleep near impossible, but by morning the fog so gently gave way to sun and the golden hillsides met the turquoise waters with such beauty and grace, friends with a long history dating back millions of years; I began to wonder how many secrets they share, these golden hills and turquoise waters, how many stories they hold, all that they’ve seen in their millions of years side-by-side.
In between hiking and sleeping, I was able to dive into Joanna Macy’s Widening Circles. I’m a sucker for memoirs and this one was incredible, detailing a life of travel, and love, and passion, and intellect. It was such a treat to be able to just read for reading’s sake and inspiring to read of a life well-lived.
Of course, no one pays better tribute to our Mother than the lovely Mary Oliver, who I will have the pleasure of seeing in San Francisco this November (90 days and counting!). I am ecstatic to hear, to see this woman in person—she’s the only one who can make me fall in love again and again, verse by verse.
I am in love with Ocean
lifting her thousands of white hats
in the chop of the storm,
or lying smooth and blue, the
loveliest bed in the world.
In the personal life, there is
always grief more than enough,
a heart load for each of us
on the dusty road. I suppose
there is a reason for this, so I will be
patient, acquiescent. But I will live
nowhere except here, by Ocean, trusting
equally in all blast and welcome
of her sorrowless, salt self.
-Mary Oliver, Ocean