The Calm Before the (retail) Storm.

This is what happens when I make a point of coming home from work early, like a regular person. I get to navigate through the pouring rain, carefully avoiding other bumper cars careening across the Golden Gate into the Christmas-lighted city that harbors lines of old Victorians resplendent in chromatic bliss…little colored halos aglow through the beaded curtain of endless droplets on my windshield. I get to come home and take an evening shower, delighting in new smells and soft products that threaten my masculinity with their sensual splendor. I get to do the dishes that the week cruelly barricaded over the sink – a strangely satisfying and relaxing task these days, taking care of the home.

And I get to take a short drive to my favorite perch on the corner of Cole and Carl. I’ve been going there for over a decade now, and it never fails to put me in a good mood, especially tonight, watching the rain cascading off awnings askew and the intermittent N line rumbling little earthquakes through the tables. It’s the nexus of sensory delight, that corner. Eos, Kezar, Say Cheese, Sword and Rose, Madkat, and my very favorite view of SF from inside the City – the houses crawling up the vibrant green outcroppings of Mt. Sutro, with the cultural icon of the Freak Magnet hovering on the fog above like an alien mothership. I finished a 700-pager tonight, and I watched so many beautiful San Franciscans laughing and talking and nodding off in their chairs, and I had my lovely, lovely cup of tea through it all. Precious moments, these.

I haven’t gone out much in the past year, haven’t had the time to enjoy this amazing Bay Area topography in every direction. Sometimes the urges come quickly and surreptitiously, and before I know it, I’ll be wishing for an extra hour to walk the beach or wander the redwoods. And why not, when it’s all so close? Sometimes it takes me a few attempts, and sometimes it takes the hand of the right person to lead me there, where I can masquerade my fear of putting tasks on hold underneath a willingness to give a tour, host a view, share some beauty. I mean, the redwoods will still be there, but she may not.


After nearly two years of written correspondence, I found great kinship and fortune in finally meeting the enthralling dichroicynosure. We originally met digitally and by chance, with both of us steeped in academia – her in Norway, myself in Scotland. My Celt to her Viking, yet both from the same place before our respective northern excursions. And strangely, as time has a habit of facilitating, we returned to that same place and met there.

With the right people, adventures are easy, giving way to the romantic souls that like to forge through the underbrush in search of arcane creatures and look for ghosts of civilization and the imprints of past lives, even in places we know they never really existed. It’s about the search more than the result, as with this wonderful life. Even the ancient trees can be relegated to a simple, mundane backdrop if the urge to explore is great enough, instead thrilling to navigate the myriad layers of self and experience from the other’s perspective, finding a calming symbiosis even in that reciprocal act of traversing past and present, this, the state of the union. Like a good story, everybody has one.


Sometimes the light is just right, and the foreign, familiar foliage is somehow more beautiful and majestic than the indigenous. Smaller, gnarlier, but more…right. It may resonate to the particular frequency that one identifies as their own; the bark may have that cracked cinnamon-quality that one’s hands are simply used to touching. The moss is different, for certain. Greener, moister. Some looked far more like grizzled sages, enjoying being upstaged by the wooden spire-antennas of the Scotsman Muir’s legacy, delighting in the extra attention lavished by those of us who are also seemingly out of time and place, as well.



One of the things I love about dichroicynosure is her willingness to be a child and get dirty like one. Leaves and mud and moss-stains be damned, as soon as we spotted our fair oak friend, she was off, scrambling over the knots and branches as people walking by stopped to enjoy the same sight I did. Her limbs became extensions of the tree’s and the leaves fanned her as she climbed up and up and up…


In the wake of death and whirlwind travel and the continual delay of careful introspection, our strung-together visits were truly a blessing and a task. When you see your self – struggles, movements, and passions – reflected in the heart and mind of another, it pushes you to stay the course, to believe in who you are, and to acknowledge that you’re perhaps on the right path after all, however leafy and muddy it might sometimes be. The feeling of kinship that comes with this is as ineffable and unmeasurable as the hundreds of concentric rings safely tucked away beneath the protective bark of our forest friends. But that’s what core samples are for: getting to the heart of the matter.



Another sample is just ahead, over the river and through the woods…

8 Responses to “The Calm Before the (retail) Storm.”

  1. Anonymous Says:
    December 18th, 2005 at 7:15 pm

    Thank god. I couldn't *quite* see you as an accessory-after-the-fact, and/but I didn't know there was a fiction genre that involved photos of willing friends. What is the Gaelic for "manipulate"?
    I'm glad you had a good time with the trees! I own a wonderful book, "Meetings With Remarkable Trees" by Thomas Pakenham, that you'd probably enjoy. They are all Brit. trees, but according to he's written a new one that goes worldwide. And he has another that's all about the baobab, a tree I've loved since I saw Disney's "In Search of the Castaways". (Any movie with Maurice Chevalier can't be all bad!)
    I trust you are also familiar with the "elf house" trees in Samuel P. Taylor Park in Marin. There is nothing, BTW, as self-satisfied as a five-year-old who is able to pronounce "Samuel P. Taylor Park". I should know. 🙂

  2. angledge Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    How did I miss this post?
    (I am listening to the linked mp3 while typing this. It goes perfectly with the post.)
    In the fourth photo, the bare branches of the tree look like naked fairy limbs. I love it! I also love seeing your face, sweetie. You're the only person I know (other than <lj user = katieledge>) who would be so dressed up for a hiking trip. Miss you!

  3. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    Re: How did I miss this post?
    You're wonderful for saying that, and also for 'reading' this post as it was meant to be read – with a soundtrack!
    We have some serious exploration to do when you return, now just around the corner!

  4. hermiston Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Mo was relieved to see this post! I thought it was a very imaginative entry, Mr Funkyplaid – stretching the possibilities of the livejornal; ifteen points each to you and dichroicynosure.

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 9:19 pm

    Cheers for that. Now that I'm delayed from expressing my academic interests in an accessible forum, I simply have to create the fantastic to make up for it.
    You two didn't really think I was a nutter, did you, man?

  6. hermiston Says:
    January 5th, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    i didn't!

  7. dichroicynosure Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    I feel so gifted by this connection–both in person and through words.
    There were so many points in this entry where I had to shiver with all the well wordedness of it all…
    The feeling of kinship that comes with this is as ineffable and unmeasurable as the hundreds of concentric rings safely tucked away beneath the protective bark of our forest friends. But that’s what core samples are for: getting to the heart of the matter.
    Only you would use dendrochronolgy as a metaphor to speak of the heart!
    I'll have to link pollen analysis to our way of relating next!

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    December 20th, 2005 at 9:28 pm

    Show me your stamen; I promise I'll be your friend forever.
    I can't believe I just said that.

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