Yesterday, I went with some out-of-town guests to Tennessee Valley in Marin County for an easy hike. Near the beach my friends decided to climb a steep ridge to an observation point. I’ve been having an ankle problem, so I told them I’d wait for them at a bench just off the main trail. While biding my time, I took the photo at the top. A few moments later, I spotted a low-flying red-winged blackbird soaring down the trail toward me. The red-winged blackbird is one of my favorite species of bird, so I followed his course. A very strange thing happened. He kept heading my way until he was hovering right beside me. Then he landed on the back of the bench. I reached into the bag I was holding and offered him a piece of bread, which he took. He flew away and returned a few minutes later to ask for more. He took it without fear, right from my fingertips. I managed to get this shaky photo of him eating. I think he must have spotted the bread from the distance. I’ve seen this kind of behavior in urban blackbirds, but never out in the countryside. They’re training the hikers now.
Archive for April, 2009
I just got back from a week in Mexico. It was restful, and now I’m ready to get back to work on my book. The strangest thing about my return was coming into contact with all the political arguments going on in the media. Once you’ve been away from them for awhile, they don’t sound very intelligent. I’d like to ignore it all. But I know I won’t.
I’m taking my first vacation away from the book in…I can’t remember how long. So a week in Mexico for me.
We live in a peculiar era. Or maybe it’s just the way of the world. The Left is generally hostile toward religion, yet struggles for principles that are essentially spiritual. The Right claims to be religious, yet pursues an agenda that is essentially evil. This seems to be true in every Western nation.
I’m back from my trip to Seattle, but my time there was nothing like what I’d intended. I did write a little, but it turned mostly into a research trip. I love research. It’s like working on a good puzzle. I’m writing about events that happened more than 35 years ago, so I forget things, of course. I made a lot of progress toward figuring out the names of people and places, I saw what things really look like, and I determined when certain events actually happened. I was also able to recall my feelings towards certain aspects of Seattle.
The research success that I enjoyed most was figuring out the name of a hippie café in the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle that I used to sing in. If you’ve never been to the Pike Place Market, it’s a sprawling labyrinth filled with small shops, food stalls, and cafés. I’d been writing about the café without remembering its name, and that bothered me. I doubted that I’d find it if I went down to the market. But one day I was in a used bookstore and came upon an old publication—1978—that listed every single business in the Pike Place Market. I looked through it, but 1978 was five years after I left Seattle, and a lot of those old hippie businesses were dying fast. The booklet listed a café called the Soundview and said that it had been popular with locals for many years. That didn’t sound like the right name, but I did an Internet search on “Soundview” and “Seattle,” and found a review of the Soundview Café. The reviewer said that she used to sing in the café back in the early 70s when it was called the Soup and Salad Collective. That was it! The Soup and Salad! I went down to the market and found that it had changed very little. The Pike Place Market is historical and protected, so businesses are not allowed to change the structure of the building much. It might not seem like much, but I was quite happy to figure this out.
So now that I’m back, I have to go over the last few chapters and correct some things. When I return to the current chapter—chapter 8, Highway Song—I’ll be writing about a trip I took down to San Francisco in 1972.
I’m leaving in the morning for Seattle where I’ll spend a week working on some sections of the book that take place there. These are second draft chapters that I’ve already “finished.” I’m curious to see whether being in a place encourages some of the atmosphere to seep into the writing. More when I get back.