Drinking Water From the Heart of the Earth


On a hot day, when you’ve just climbed the trail from Pan Toll Ranger Station to Rock Springs, a drink of the water, flowing cold and clear from the pipe, is to taste life itself. Even now, sitting at my desk with the sound of the rain outside my window, a wine glass of that water is all I need to taste the mountain and remember the water running down the rocky path, the cool air in my lungs on the day I drew water from that well.

A goblet of that water sits on the altar above me, next to the cauldron where a candle burns for Brighid. I’m thankful for so many things, for that Thanksgiving day when I filled my jars and had a family to share Thanksgiving dinner with. For the deer I saw on the mountain:


And from the deck outside the dining room:


I believe the world lays gifts at our feet every day. The more I say “thank you” for them, the more of them I notice. I’m not aspiring for sainthood here, this is most definitely a daily practice with an aspect of selfishness to it. It makes me feel better to do it, and so it reinforces itself. Beginning my day by going to work would be a lot harder if I didn’t start out by naming a few blessings, having a job to go to being pretty high on the list. When I had to get on a bike at oh-dark-thirty and arrive at work while it was still dark an hour later, those thank yous were sometimes what got me there. There was a time when I never thought I’d be getting on that bike when it was light, but now I do, and there’s yet another thing to be thankful for.

I try to turn my face to the light whenever possible. It’s hard at times, but the alternative is so much worse. There are so many things in my life that I would like to change, and so many of them seem immovable. But little by little, like that water wearing away at the rock below, some of them are shifting. Some of it is all in point of view.

Getting hurt at work has become a blessing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I make less money than I did, but I work fewer hours, and my schedule is more flexible than it’s been in years. I make enough to live on–just–and that extra time and energy goes into music. Between BART stations and open mics, I am most of the way to a new album. At last night’s open mic, I was offered a gig. Date TBD and unpaid, but I’m farther down the road than I was last week.

I can’t quite see us ever getting out of Oakland and into that forest I want to be living in, but I can at least see the cracks in that belief. Who knows? The forest may spring up around us. I look for the trees that are already here, and see the houses among them rather than the other way around. I have acorn bits in the freezer and whole acorns in the kitchen waiting to be cracked. All were gathered from the streets of Lafayette. The beginnings of the food forest are already here. Olives fall from the trees in the Cannery in San Francisco, and plums dot the streets of Berkeley and Oakland every summer. Blackberries are everywhere.

What are you grateful for?

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