Sunday, June 6, 2010


What is the purpose of variety; especially the variety found in Nature? Is it to help us finally see that abundance is everywhere? That there is no such thing as lack? Is it a reminder that we are but one of BILLIONS, all different, and that the immensity of the variety is such that it makes our uniqueness nothing to write home about? That we are surrounded by examples of variety so numerous, so outrageous in its plenitude that maybe, just maybe, we'll sit up and take notice?

Yesterday I had brunch with my girls, Amy and Renee, and Amy's new baby, Abigail. First meeting. It was such fun to watch her and really see that she hasn't started separating creation out with labels and names yet. Does she see variety? It looks like she's just interested in it all, without any need to differentiate! Would I had that sight.

Then on to Bakersfield and my friend Chris. We took a stroll along the bike path which runs through the city and west. We walked the undeveloped area, and since it was sunset, the bunnies were having a party! Oh my gosh; I've never seen so many bunnies in one area.

Chris has a vintage MG convertible, so we went for dinner and then took a ride in the country. I really love looking at the night sky. The drive reminded me of Midwestern summer nights--perfect temperature, smell of hay and stars everywhere. More variety; I can't get away from it.

Today I saw parts of California I've never seen before. Who put this here?!! I mean, really--whose idea was this? I swore I wasn't going to call Jason today, but I couldn't help myself. Around every corner, over every rise, to the right, to the left, in front and behind: beauty and magnificence everywhere! What got me today was the variety and how the elements of the landscape were juxtaposed. I was driving in 102 degree heat, yet immediately to the left of me were snow-capped peaks. I was winding my way up Hwy 178 out of Bakersfield, basically the desert, yet following alongside the tumbling, rushing, gushing Kern river. Dry heat, dry, dry; yet the hills are covered, literally covered, in the sweetest looking lavender colored flowers.

Hwy 395 is especially fantastic. To the right out my window as I was heading north, the desert and mountains looked like Vulcan's workshop, and I could imagine him striding across this vast wilderness, swinging his hammer against the anvil of the earth shoving up immense mountains to the left--Olancha Peak, Mt. Langley, The Devil's Postpile, and the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney--all covered still in snow.

And finally, to arrive in Mono Lake. I mean, what the heck!? I learned that Mono Lake is the sister lake to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Mono Lake is on the western edge of a great basin that stretches east to Salt Lake in Utah. There are these incredible limestone formations called Tufa towers that ring the lake. Here, too, variety--as no two tufa towers are the same.

Yet, tonight I am thinking that the variety I see is in me. It is in the labels I apply: mountain, desert, sage, hot, cold, curved, bumpy, salty; and the comparisons I make: less tall, more beautiful, less beautiful, hotter, colder, etc. Aren't "I" and all of the labels I have for who and what I am necessary for any of this to be "seen?"

More Annie Dillard, "Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won't see it. It is, as Ruskin says, 'not merely unnoticed, but in the full, clear sense of the word, unseen.'" She goes on to write, "But there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go. When I see this way I sway transfixed and empty...When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer."

Tomorrow I head over Tioga Pass into Yosemite...

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