Monday, January 26, 2009

San Francisco 25.5.01: Bowers of Jasmine, Syncretistic Brew

In San Francisco. And I dreamt last night of some plants in my garden. They were thistle-like and had gone to seed. They were disfigured, smutted over, by some black fungus.

Yet atop them were goldfinches, three of them. I got down at eye level to the birds, where I could see right into their eyes. One looked back uncuriously, unafraid.

I couldn’t even see if it were a goldfinch, since all I could see were its face and eyes. I had to back away and stand up to see its color. I was afraid to do that, for fear I’d scare it.

I did so. It—nor the other two birds—didn’t move at all. I see that it is a goldfinch.

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I didn’t even remember this dream until today, at Cody’s bookshop. I picked up a book of poetry and opened to a poem about goldfinches.

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The gardens. One I saw yesterday in front of the Franciscan friary at St. Elizabeth’s church, an old German—now Hispanic—church in Oakland, was absolutely stunning. The colors in the clear California air seem to leap right through the eyes to the brain. As that happened, a rush inside, warm in the chest, bringing tears of sheer joy.

The flowers were foxgloves of all hues of lavender, with a bell-shaped flower in front I should know, and can’t recall, blue, white, pink, purple.

So much else to note. Agave with its mottled serpentine-looking leaves and strange canopy of orange tubular flowers. Bougainvillea/mandevilla trained to tree shape. Bowers of nutmeg-scented Confederate jasmine. And roses roses roses, everywhere, especially in old gardens, growing so abundantly that they seem almost to outgrow themselves.

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The syncretistic brew, always fermenting, that is San Francisco and its environs: here in this old German neighborhood in Oakland, that was a ranch into this century, people are now black, Hispanic, Asian. And plop in the middle a Greek Assembly of God church. Where there are no Greeks at all, that I can see. A Hawaiian eat-in restaurant (as opposed to a take-out one; and what would Hawaiian take-out food be?). Taco Bell and KFC in the same fast-food outlet—are the people driving through seeking burritos or hot wings? Ads for sex therapy and tantric healing in the daily newspaper cheek by jowl with Pogo.

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