Fire

I

The leaves rustle gently at first,

barely moving in the otherwise stagnant air.

But the wind comes, and will come again. 

Every year.

II

It’s eerily warm when

the hearty Santa Ana winds,

the december gusts, come 

to breathe full of life

limbs of dry straw.

Shrubbery sings with that transient weight;

shrubbery that won’t be here tomorrow.

III

Before the door could be closed

a delicate leaf let itself in.

Frail, yellow, brittle.

Winter boots shatter it; 

the shards driven into

the green carpet.

IV

Autumn came when no one was looking, quiet and still, 

but Winter knocked on the door.

Warm winds; loose leaves;

oak and sycamore;

helpless faces;

unpacked clothes strewn, full of life,

on the floor.

V

Fires often blow through on winds like these,

—the threat, toothsome and tangible—

but even as the wind whips

and the sparse clouds hurry across the sky,

cruel circumstance sits suspended in hot heavy air.

VI

Heavy walls went like cardboard 

big weight bearing beams became matchsticks

that snap between fat flaming fingers

recollection ripped out of picture frames

folders full of ash

crumpled filing cabinets

and melted metal memories 

a world engulfed

in wind

in the night

in warm welling eyes

in the sweltering night.

VII

Gnawing on the bones

baying at the hunt

howling in the wind

a hound of three heads sicced 

uncontrollable 

delighting in the chaos 

in pandemonium’s wild embrace.

VIII

silence settled,

the land rested.

no fireman’s boots,

no tennis shoes,

no cars,

no buildings,

no birds.

Just cold black earth,

warm embers,

warm breeze.

IX

Green growth sparsely populates the scorched earth.

Grasses, gaining ground.

But deep in the center the blackness still sits.

Telling you things are not as they once were,

Succession is a process, aching and raw;

but nothing could be so delicate and pure

as the inkling of new life

among black expanse.

X

These winds will whip 

hearts to attention

for years to come.

From: KPCC

The Perfect Tree

This year I learned that there are two types of Christmas trees: a noble and a douglas.

I was standing in the parking lot of Lowe’s, searching the fenced in barn for this year’s tree. To my left, there were the douglasses. I knew that any one of them would look great in my living room. They had the classic Christmas tree feel, and I felt satisfied with the quality.

Then, I looked to my right. Propped along the wooden fences were the plush, green noble trees. And they were, indeed, noble. The trees looked as though they came straight out of a holiday hallmark movie. The branches looked as though they grew to meet cold winter snow, and I could not picture any kind of tree that represented the holiday better.

I again turned to my left. The douglass trees then looked drab. Dying, even. The only thing that made them more appealing than the tall nobles was the pricetag. I sorted through each of them, however, and found one that would suit my living room. I admired it and it’s imperfections seemed to disappear. But I again turned towards the nobles.

The contrast in beauty was striking. The tree I had found did not seem as beautiful anymore.

We went home with a noble.

Image Credit: Nathaniel Young

A year like no other—2020 in review

in shuttering silence

happiness is fleeting

buoyancy is turbulent 

and the grey world deteriorates

breath is belabored

and the periphery begins to seep in

the color is fading fast 

fast

faster still than hot flames

the fury and the fire in the center

burns has burned and will burn

hot

hotter than before

but still it burns through its fuel

and the sides still fall away than the center can build back

better to be honest 

better to be free

better to seek the middle even as the edges fray

better to worry about the now than lose hope in the future

as the color fades into gray

Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

A white Christmas

Finally. After 4 months of not seeing my family, I will soon be home again. In one week I will be on a plane on my way back to Germany and I can’t even put in words how excited I am. I came to the boarding school in the U.S when I was 15. Now, this is my third year going here but every year I don’t see my family for 4 months at a time. I always fly home over Christmas break and the first feeling of stepping out of the airport in Germany is so refreshing. The cold air, the snow, and there they are. My mother, my brother, and our dog. Every year, it is the greatest feeling there is. We drive home and I see our house shining bright with Christmas lights. I open the door and I am greeted by a huge Christmas tree in the living room.

The feeling of finally being home is not comparable to anything else. I step into our garden and play in the snow with our dog. We run around and I go to the lake to see if it has frozen yet. We live close to beautiful mountains, so everyday I walk up with our dog and just sit and watch the beautiful view while it starts snowing. The next day I meet up with my best friend and we go to the famous German Christmas markets in our city. Hot chocolate, waffles, crepe, everything you could imagine for Christmas is right there. All the little shop huts are decorated with lights and snow on top of them. Christmas in Germany is incredibly special to me, and not comparable to anything else.

A beautiful Christmas market in Germany

https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/top-8-german-christmas-markets/

Windows Down

Although the air is frigged on this winter night, we drive around blasting music with the windows down.

Why one may ask?

Because sometimes there’s no purer form of joy than singing your favorite songs with two of your favorite people.

In that moment, all your fears and worries fly out the open window and you are living in the moment, watching two people sing and smile with every word that leaves their mouth.

This is one of the moments that you would replay over and over again when you rest your head on the pillow for nights to come.

I would not trade the little moments like this for anything.

So the simple answer to why we drive around with the windows down on a frigged winter night is simply for the joy of it, because in the end, you only have once chance to make memories like this with the ones you love.

Photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/

A Cold Ocean’s Call

it was bitter and cold 

in the great green pacific.

and the warmth crawled out from my bones

as the words in my head slowed their swirling.

instead of going with them,

there I would sit 

socks in the sand

I kept high and dry

Always away from that wet;

I hadn’t yet felt it’s unavoidable pull

that siren’s song.

I hadn’t let the cold seep in,

I hadn’t plunged into the ocean,

But I would.

The ocean begs for our attention

it begs for big words

and soft sounds

a deft touch 

and a guiding glance

to make sure

that we

who sit in stony silence 

will be kept in time

by the rising and falling of 

the great green pacific

From: Surf Simply

My Journal

I realize I’ve forgotten about my daily planner. It’s been sitting in my desk for the past couple of weeks, leaving me to keep track of all my assignments in my head. Without it, academics have felt like one big game of whack-a-mole. I’ve been barely holding on, about to turn the lights out for the night before I realize an assignment is due tomorrow.

It can feel annoying writing every assignment down as its given. However, without an organized book to keep track of my assignments, I have felt like I’ve tuned out of academics.

Today I wrote down everything I needed to do. It’s not too much when you look at it on paper. When it’s all in your head, however, it can feel overwhelming. Just when you think you’ve cleared your agenda, another task appears. When I write down my assignments or meetings, however, I can accomplish things in a more mentally civilised way.

It is important for me to not let my own head be in charge of keeping track of things. Not everyone works the same way, but for me, writing down my responsibilities is the best way to get them done, and erasing them is very rewarding.

Image Credit:  LEUCHTTURM

Holidays

The Halloween experience acts as a measurement of growth as it changes after every birthday. I watch each Halloween become less and less magical as my costumes have faded to my everyday clothes. Halloween is, as they say, “what you make it,” because unlike holidays like Christmas where there is no escaping the holiday spirit, Halloween is the easiest time to take a knee.

Spending time with friends and family passing out candy or trick or treating this year has been discouraged due to COVID. I’m not too disappointed, as I haven’t done much in recent years either, though I celebrated with a glass of apple cider and a little pumpkin to keep up the spirit.

I look forward to the day when I can spend the evening with my friends again, and maybe put together a costume with some magically newfound makeup skills. For now, however, I am content with this year’s Halloween because I know that there are many more to come.

Image Credit: Tony Thomas

Fall in Ojai

Now that it is October I now feel the need to wear warm cloths, drink hot tea throughout the day, and I expect the scent of pumpkin spice to fill the air.

But we live in Southern California, where we spend the beginning of October in a wave of one hundred ten degree heat and smoke filled skies from wildfires raging across the state.

The trees don’t turn colors from that end of summer green to stunning shades of orange, red, and brown. Instead, the leaves either are scorched from the blazing heat or they simply fall to the ground with no colorful exit.

Sometimes I find myself wishing our little town of Ojai experiences all the beauties and wonders of the “typical” fall, but I then remember what fall is like in our quaint town.

Fall is going to the farmers market early on Sunday mornings and starting to see the seasonal fruit and flowers being sold change and the abundance of fresh pies made from apples and pumpkins. It is going to the grocery store and seeing big bins of pumpkins fill the sidewalk and overtake the porches of houses. It is going to the local pumpkin patch and riding on the old tractor around the corn field. It is watching the most incredible sunsets of the year.

So no, we may not have the stereotypical fall with the cold weather and shades of orange that fills the treetops, but we have our own beautiful version of it in our small Southern California town.

Image credit: https://www.pinterest.it/

Crafting in Quarantine

It’s not often that I find the time to build something for the sake of building it. The beginning of summer left us all with hours to fill and few options for how to fill them. I took the opportunity to begin what I call my longest project ever. I spent three weeks of quarantine building a dollhouse with no plan of what I would do with it or where I would store it.

I tested my dusty geometry skills by planning an outline for the house and cutting out big shapes of foam board. The wallpaper quickly went up and I spent my afternoons creating mini furniture and decorations. With each addition to the house, I gained a new skill in a new medium. I worked with wood, cardboard, paint, clay, wire, and fabric. Having a long term project gave every day a purpose, and I have spent every week since then creating new things to fill my time.

Art Credit: NCW Libraries