Thursday, June 11, 2009


photo by Bonnie Tsui for the New York Times

In my other life (a life that has not been written), I wanted to live in one of the above lookout towers. I hoped to watch for forest fires with the boy I loved. I was going to surround myself with books, stacks of them and read poetry and novels. I would write and take pictures and go for walks. It would be quiet and I would be vigilant, looking for wisps of smoke, of fire, of danger. I'd be alert and open but safe inside.

I was reminded of all of this, today, as I drove Sophie to school. I had to stop the car because she was having what seemed like an endless cluster of seizures and she was hitting her hand, hard on the window. At first I just nervously glanced in the rearview mirror and spoke quietly to her. But with every thump against the window, I started to wonder whether she could break a bone in her hand. She has such slender hands. So I stopped and opened the door and sat with her until they stopped. Gardeners across the street were mowing and blowing and one touched the brim of his Chinese hat. A couple of crows hopped across the road and pecked in the grass.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Van Morrison songs from the album Hard Nose the Highway. I wish you could listen to him sing them, but I couldn't find anything to download.

Well the summertime has gone And the leaves are gently turnin' And my love I wanna take you To the place heart-a-yearnin' Will you go, lassie go And we'll all go together In the wild mountain thyme All around the blooming heather Will you go And I will build my love a tower At the foot of yonder mountain And visit by the hour From a lonely wooden tower Will you go, lassie go And we'll all go together In the wild mountain thyme All around the blooming heather Come on At the foot of yonder mountain I will visit by the hour With the lily of the valley Go, will you go, lassie go And we'll all go together In the wild mountain thyme All around the blooming heather Will you go, lassie go Will you go Will you go, will you go

And here's a link to an article that appeared, mysteriously, on my computer tonight in tomorrow's New York Times.


  1. Don't you see that you are already living in the lookout tower? There are probably more "forest fires" than you expected, but beauty surrounds you. I know it from your pictures and your writing...

  2. Elizabeth poor Sophie. Those horrible seizures.

    I am sorry that happened today.

    No one can ever imagine our reality; can they?

    Have you heard that song sung by John McDermott, Wild Mountain Thyme.

    Love Renee xoxo

  3. Beautifully written. I like what endswith8741 said in her comment.

    so, wow... that was like, serendipity (is that the right word) with the whole mysterious nytimes article...

  4. I'm too am so sorry too about Sophie's seizures and that you have to always be watching and wondering and worrying about this type of fire. The coincidence of the nytimes article, inexplicably appearing as it did, made me shiver. It's a wonderful article that makes me yearn for the beauty and peace of the sierras and backpacking weekends from my former life.

  5. What a beautiful poem (& photo).
    Whenever you write about Sophie having seizures like this, I picture the situation, & want to stop and sit with you & her until it passes. Just sit & hold you both in my heart, safely. Maybe that is what God is doing all the time.
    I had a desire to live & work in a National Park when I was a young art student. I thought the peace and beauty of nature would inspire me to great works. I also pictured like-minded young people there, to live and work with, with a balance of manual labor in the great outdoors and art, side by side. I haven't thought about that in a while; thanks for reminding me.

  6. Renee, Wild Mountain Thyme is an old, old folk tune that has been sung by many and interpreted differently by many--I haven't heard John McDermott's, though, and will look it up.

    Karen, I've thought of you during these times with Sophie and felt blessed by you, felt your presence. Thank you.

  7. I can imagine The Wild Mountain Thyme sung by Van Morrison. I've heard a nice version from Judy Collins, too. But my own personal way of enjoying it most is from a battered old book of sheet music. Thanks for bringing this old friend to mind. I'm off to play it. Re your "other life" imagery and your dreams, have you ever read Ira Progoff's "At A Journal Workshop?"

  8. She's very lucky to have you, Elizabeth, you to stop and hold her hand, enjoy the breeze and watch the crow. She is lucky.

    love Van Morrison.

  9. The more I read your blog, the more i'm convinced it's fate that lead me here (not even sure how i stumbled upon it exactly).

    Our lives are vastly different, yet composed of so many common threads. I'm struck over and over again with something or other you post that's either my favorite, or resonates, or my family could relate to. I want the whole world to read everything you've posted here. It's beauty and honesty and truth that deserves to be broadcast from the rooftops. Thank you for all you do.



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