Monday, December 31, 2007

Twice this month I've had the good fortune to be spotted by hawks even before I saw them. Both times the hawks slowed their circling directly over me and glided lower and lower until they were within camera range. It was as if they were allowing me to photograph them. In both instances the hawks were probably looking for mice or squirrels, but I like to think they stopped what they were doing to acknowledge my presence. It was obvious that we had seen each other. I must confess that the hawk today in Tecolote Canyon was less obviously friendly than the one I saw earlier in the month when I was tramping around the bluffs at Cabrillo Point. That first hawk, the one in the photograph above, had been circling the bluff above the pounding surf near the lighthouse at the entrance to San Diego Bay; and when I appeared on the hillside, he flew directly over me, slowed into a glide, and circled around not more than twenty or thirty feet above me. Today as I walked the trail through Tecolote Canyon, I had the sense that the magnificent hawk in the other photos was following me. He was close enough for me to catch the fierce look on his face.

Of course, “tecolote” is the Spanish word for owl; but I have never seen an owl in Tecolote Canyon.


Be still
my anxious heart.
I thought
the headline read

I did a double-take when I glanced at the big headline on the first page of our local newspaper. Alas, it was simply a remedy for home owners in fire-prone areas of San Diego. We see what we want to see!

For some reason I was reminded of a a sign I saw when I was going through the customs queue at Beijing Airport a couple of years ago. The messages out of Washington these days make just about as much sense.

Monday, December 17, 2007


The red tail hawk circling
found me...
lonely, both of us, on the hill
above the sea.

His slow circling was sign
we knew the other was there
in space and time.

He knew what he wanted,
I had come with nothing to do
but watch the sea.

I stood stone still watching his circles
and then he signaled with a shallow dive
and flew away.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Going through some of my journal entries from 1990, I came across something I wrote when Pete Wilson was the Republican candidate for governor of California. I wrote it after I had heard Wilson address the the downtown Rotary Club. I am reminded as I read it of some of the people who want to take George Bush's place in the White House.

Wilson got his indoctrination into politics at the age of 27 by serving as an advance man for Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign. He served as State Assemblyman, Mayor of San Diego, and U.S. Senator prior to becoming Governor in 1991.


Gray heads tilted and nodded approval
as the man who wanted to be Governor
and then undoubtedly President with a big “P”
explained to Rotary Club number thirty-three
how he wanted to make the world safe
by building two hundred billion dollars worth of deadly weapons,
and by securing every citizen’s right to buy and keep automatic assault rifles,
and by building an impossible-to-scale wall along the border,
and by protecting marriage from desecration by gays and lesbians.

The old warriors seated around their lunch tables
seemed determined to help him keep the world
just as full of terror as they had found it
when they were young soldiers in Normandy and Iwo Jima.

The dove of peace has had little time for rest
during the watch of these old men for the past fifty years
and is likely to find no safe place for a nest during the next...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I TOOK MY BIG CAMERA out beyond Point Loma and Ocean Beach to see if I could meet up with a red-tail hawk I know. After I left my car and walked along the bluffs below Point Loma Nazarene University, I came upon a patch of nude earth that made me stop and listen and half expect to hear breathing. Perhaps it was the lingering euphoria I had experienced as I listened the night before to Al Gore's Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Maybe it was just the way the morning light slanted into the rain and wind carved gullies and the softly rounded sandstone knolls or the gentle rise and fall of ocean swells below the cliffs, but I could have sworn I felt the earth alive beneath my feet.

One of E.E. Cummings' poems came to mind, and I wanted to speak it softly to the earth; but I could only remember parts of it. So I said out loud what I rememberedt. I thought I was alone with the earth; but when I looked up, I saw a man watching me from the top of one of the hills. He probably thought I was just a crazy old man mumbling to himself, a man who shouldn't be out wandering alone on bluffs above the sea.

When I got home, I went immediately to find the Cummings poem. It's even better and more apt than I had remembered.

Pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange,lenses extend

unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.

A world of made
is not a world of born--pity poor flesh.

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if--listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go

E.E. Cummings