Yew and Cypress

Being largely ignored in a public place has certain advantages. 99% of the passers by either don’t register my presence, or are actively avoiding the fact that I’m there. Considering the inherent lack of privacy in a large city, and the mindset riding transit can put you in, I can understand and even sympathize. I look like any other panhandler to people above a certain income level.

BART stations are great teachers. There’s a great advantage to having the freedom to screw up. My music is written on the wind, as all music is. No one remembers what I did five minutes ago except me, and the few whose attention I have attracted. So I can do songs I’m in the process of learning and blow the lyrics–as I do, more often than I’d like. As a friend of mine has said, “It’s not the mistake, it’s the recovery.” I’m getting older. I’m not holding onto lyrics like I used to. That could be distressing, but I choose not to see it that way. Maybe that’s the beginning of wisdom? I’m hoping that like any other muscle, memory will be strengthened with use.

I had a voice lesson yesterday. And when I got to BART I actually sounded worse than I had before. But it was snake-on-skates worse. I was thinking way too much about what I was doing and fighting my body instead of just singing. I think I have yet to integrate what I was taught. I skipped open mic because there my performance will be heard, and remembered by that small community, and that’s therefore not a great place to screw up. But I have some time this morning to work with the insights and exercises before I go out again.

The Berkeley BART station was taken when I got there, so I went up to the UC campus. I stopped by the yew tree at the edge of the traffic circle on my way to coffee. There was a plastic bag under it, my signal to fill it with the trash that is so plentiful here. It was a chance to visit with the tree as well, and see it in this season, its berries red and inviting and deadly. On impulse I asked for one, and took it with me. I wrapped it in paper towel from the bathroom up at the library and washed my hands well. It’s on my altar now, the paper towel wet, my cauldron burning with Brighid’s fire close by. We’ll see if it wants to live. A yard as small as ours, and a tree so slow growing as the yew might coexist quite nicely–or it may have another place to go. Who can know? We shall see.

I got my coffee and went up to Bancroft Library to say hello to Athena. Her bronze head is set over the south doorway, a nod to tradition, and one of the many small shrines that are everywhere if you look. I was looking for a place to lay out my tarot cards. Behind the stairs, along the side of the building where no one goes, I found a pair of cypress trees and another yew. You can always tell the places no one goes. There’s no trash. Only a few new plastic bags, which I left as they were. It was obviously a squat and whoever had been there had left nothing else. I left no traces anyone could likely read and let the camper have the illusion of privacy, as I did.

The BART station had another musician in it when I got back to it, harmonica, guitar and rough blues, and I left him to it, to make my way home.

My cauldron is burned clean and my tale is told. Time to get to work!

Busking Total: $5.90. $4904.75 to go!

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