Summer season brings with it a sure set of rites and rituals — and everybody’s are private and distinctive. For our weeklong ode to the season, T has invited writers to share their very own. Right here, the poet Barbara Jane Reyes describes a street journey taken yearly down the California coast.
My summers for at the least the previous decade have discovered me and my husband fleeing the unlawful firework spectacles and screeching sideshows in Oakland, Calif., and heading into the Santa Cruz mountains, all the way down to the Monterey Peninsula and throughout the long-lasting Bixby Bridge into Large Sur. In coastal redwood groves I listen in on kids marveling on the oldest of the timber. “It’s so tall, it’s as tall because the moon,” one says to the opposite. I believe, “That line will find yourself in a poem I’ll write quickly.” I can’t assist however hug these large timber and are available away with my hair and arms coated in spider webs; I thank them for sharing their area and whisper, “Excuse us, we’re simply passing by means of.”
Loggers minimize down most of the eldest redwoods over a century in the past, however the timber’ daughters develop in circles, or fairy rings, surrounding the stumps, and fallen trunks are coated with moss and mushrooms — turkey tail, pink-edge bonnet. We surprise what creatures or spirits reside within the hollowed-out trunks. Alongside the virtually dried-out creeks, the blackberry bramble is thick and painful, but it surely gives the proper place to be nonetheless and spy on swallowtail butterflies. We climb uphill, the terrain beneath the redwood canopies mushy and funky, coated with branches and needles. Their root methods sprawl and push up earth into staircases. Nonetheless additional uphill, we clear the tree line, and the terrain is now tremendous white sand, what stays of an historical ocean. Redwoods have given technique to aromatic sagebrush, to twisted, clean crimson bark manzanitas, to ponderosa pine, and we watch the woodpeckers wage turf warfare upon each other.
On the Monterey Peninsula, we discover sea otters floating on their backs within the kelp — off the coast of Pacific Grove and Level Lobos, and on the entrance to Moss Touchdown Harbor, the place they roll their our bodies round within the water, huffing and scrubbing their fur. We sit on the rocks and watch them, not more than two meters away from us, unbothered by our presence. On the opposite aspect of the breakwater, an otter dives into the surf and emerges with shellfish to crack open on its furry stomach. The harbor seals are actually pupping on the shores, and the salt air is full of their barking. Within the scrub of the Salinas River Seaside dunes, we rely the tiny brush rabbits darting into their burrows.
All of this stuff inform me one thing about poetry — observing life sprouting from fallen, burnt, lifeless issues; the stillness and silence required to observe a single hummingbird ingesting the nectar of monkey flowers; our smallness beneath the 200-foot-tall, thousand-year-old timber; recognizing a kestrel or a Cooper’s hawk hovering above us on the peak of a mountain. I consider that Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “The Windhover” — “the hurl and gliding / Rebuffed the massive wind. My coronary heart in hiding / Stirred for a chook … ” As a lapsed (failed) Catholic — eight years at Holy Spirit Faculty in Fremont, 4 years at Moreau Catholic Excessive Faculty in Hayward — I believe, “My church is right here, on the mountain, beneath the redwoods, by the ocean.”
WHEN I WAS rising up in suburban Fremont, not too removed from all this magnificence, coloration and texture, I didn’t know the names of timber, or flowers, or creatures. I’m positive I requested my dad and mom, and I’m positive that they purchased me and my sisters books, and took us to the general public library as their method of telling us to look it up ourselves. The pure world was a faraway place, past what we might see from the automobile window on household street journeys — to Cannery Row, to Hearst Fort, to Solvang and, in the end, to Disneyland. Discovering the paths main up into the mountains, away from protected and tame vacationer sights, memento outlets and public restrooms, was not one thing we did (I didn’t know we might). What number of painstakingly composed household images do I’ve, of my three sisters, my dad and mom, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, carrying clear white sneakers and clear bluejeans, cameras slung round our necks, American place names printed throughout our newly bought T-shirts? I discovered so many of those images in my grandfather’s residence within the small Philippine city of Gattaran, a harrowing 12-hour bus trip northeast of Manila. These had been the keepsakes we despatched “residence,” to point out our massive prolonged household what our “American” lives had been like, our summers stuffed with consolation, leisure and security.
I want to suppose my grandfather would acknowledge me now, not because the pristinely clothed teenager safely distanced from buzzing, crawling, skittering issues however as his 50-year-old American granddaughter, rising from the comb coated in sweat, burrs, bug bites, scratches and cuts from a lot bramble, rocks in my socks and sneakers, my legs coated with mud and dust, smelling just like the solar, with a head stuffed with poems ready to be written down.
Barbara Jane Reyes is the creator of “Letters to a Younger Brown Lady” (BOA Editions, 2020), “Invocation to Daughters” (Metropolis Lights, 2017) and others. She is an adjunct professor within the Yuchengco Philippine Research Program on the College of San Francisco.