Friday, November 26, 2010

Geology: Red Rock Canyon

After unseasonably warm temps last week, the first of our cold winter winds swept down from Canada yesterday. It reminded me of weather shifts, climate change and geology.

And that musing caused me to remember a trip, last November, when I visited one of my favorite spots: Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, outside Vegas. I cannot help from reiterating, probably like a broken record, what a contrast exists there between the marvels of man-made entertainment and nature.

The bottom is Red Rock...the top is probably the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range as I was flying from San Francisco.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Katsuratree in Autumn

A few weeks ago, I was driving down an adjacent block with my window open when I was assailed by a scent-memory. I recalled the first time, in Scotland, when I had the opportunity to enjoy Katsuratree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) as it was described to me, with the wonderful smell of burnt sugar. Dirr says more precisely: "a delightful, spicy odor of cotton candy." I love everything about this elegant, four-season-interest tree. The way the leaves change colors from their emergence to fall (bronze, green, yellow) and how they are attached to the tree are particularly compelling, as are the form and bark. It seems the perfect plant for those great Japanese novels I read in high school and college, where the cultural sensibility celebrated the impermanence of all things...especially Kawabata.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cosmovision Maya

I heard a thoughtful interview on WBEZ's Worldview today. It featured the Chilean, Alfredo Sfeir Younis, "former World Bank Economist and Mayan Priest."

The Mayan connection naturally reminds me of the AFOPADI project in rural, indigenous Guatemalan communities. Before most of the workshops, everybody partakes in a ritual that honors the Mayan cosmology. We all light candles in the sacred colors of the four directions and give thanks. It's amazing how something that simple, by virtue of everybody participating, is so powerful.

The colors and symbolism seem to vary a bit...above is the lay-out before a women's medicinal plants workshop where we later rubbed our bodies with Rue and Lime to cleanse ourselves. Below is the start of the ceremony celebrating the dedication of a dozen new cisterns. With about 70 people, the candles took a while to light...which allowed time for reflection and community.