Category Archives: light

Drunk on Light

Tree Surgeon


My father had warned me it was coming.

The Arctic Outbreak reached our shores this week. Temperatures in this normally temperate region plunged to below freezing. Currents changed course in the Puget Sound. High crisp winds slammed down trees and power lines. Busy with projects in our remodel, we hadn’t even been aware of Super Typhoon Nuri, and suddenly remnants of it were upon us.

Whatever am I going to do one day without my Dad watching out for all of us?

The problem was, our projects were all too close-up and indoors. Hanging wood blinds, installing door knobs, painting trim and doors, finding storage solutions, and finishing two baths.

We are at the end of our budget. No, we are well over budget. The contractors have moved on, and the rest has been up to us lately. With one exception: the men in trees.

We called them in three weeks ago, men who hoist themselves up mile high trees to clear away hanging-down lifeless limbs (“widow makers,” my husband called them) and clip ever-climbing, ever-choking ivy. What was called “elevating” in the city, with a great deal of political uproar, is referred to as “wind clearing” out here.

And here is where people know better. In the tradition of Native Americans, we are relieving the trees of stress and burden. Our pruning stimulates new growth and vitality. Life-changing for both of us, trees and people.

The view is wider now, our light is brighter. What was once a frontal snapshot of the water became panoramic, wrapped with a point of land to both the left and the right. It strikes me for the first time, we live in a cove.

The old growth forest had worn shade like a cloak. She has shedded that now. The sun moves our way across the cove in winter, and her light pours onto the property, reflected onto the decks, and streaming through the windows.

Even in frigid temps, we are warmer than we ever remember being in all our years in the Pacific Northwest.

In the end these windstorms have driven me back out to clear branches and brush. All the joys I’ve ever known, in interior design and gardening, and clearing brush as steward of a piece of old growth forest on San Juan Island has become my prayer, my meditation.


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Paris Piece II

louvre 2

We were going blind living in that small dark hotel in The Latin Quarter. Not really blind, but accustomed to night blindness any hour of the day. It didn’t much matter as every morning we dressed in black and went out. Into the light. Perhaps the only couple in Paris wearing sunglasses. Coming from Seattle, we are accustomed to that.

Back to Paris: if I were transported there in my sleep, I would wake knowing where in the world I was. I was aware of that every minute of every day.

The word for tourist, translated from Greek, is “the lucky invited.” Note to self: remember that, always, when traveling.

Our city treks took us primarily to cathedrals and museums, and it didn’t take long to find our preferences in both. Notre Dame is gothic and dark, and the Musee du Louvre, vast and heavy. Following the arc of the history of art, we were drawn to the light. Impressionism, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Claude Monet.

Monet’s immense water lily canvases had moved from the Jeu de Paume over to L’Orangerie since I last visited Paris. Surrounding an oval room with a circular sofa placed in the center, the series was meditative then and meditative now. Nothing in life has changed before these paintings.

In the city I considered neighborhoods built around squares as the most desirable places in which to live. Looking up at their tall graceful windows, I imagined their views of parks and people and green. Living in a painting, what could be lovelier than that?

Then boating on the Seine, riverfront residences replaced all of that for me. Old cities such as Paris were designed to be approached from the water. Suddenly I wanted to go down the river and see all of Europe this way, traveling in all that light.

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