Saturday, February 13, 2021


When I was a child growing up in the hills on the outskirts of Redwood City on the San Francisco Peninsula, I spent much of my time reading in my bed and taking long solitary walks with our small family dog, Star, who was a beagle-fox terrier mix, black with a white star on his chest, a compromise because my father had wanted a beagle and my mother had wanted a fox terrier.  When I saw the header for this blog post, I knew I had walked in that place as a child but I wasn't sure where it was.  The simple photo of sunlight and shadow on a dusty path California clay path evokes a flood of rich childhood memories, sounds, sensations and how the California landscape held me and kept me safe.  It wasn't so much what the blogger wrote that brought back memories but his photographs.  He didn't walk in these places as a young girl in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

My best childhood memories are of exploring the natural world with our family dog and visiting the world beyond my world through books.  The blog post reminded me how fortunate I was to have lived where I lived at the time I did.  I doubt that small children or even older children are allowed to walk alone in the places that I walked alone.  I am also reminded that I was fortunate to have a mother who loved books and although she wasn't able to give me refuge in other ways and my deepest emotion in connection with her was fear, she shared her own ways of finding refuge from her own fears through books and art.

I look and look.
Looking's a way of being: one becomes,
sometimes, a pair of eyes walking.
Walking wherever looking takes one.

The eyes
dig and burrow into the world.
They touch
fanfare, howl, madrigal, clamor.
World and the past of it,
not only
visible present, solid and shadow
that looks at one looking.

And language? Rhythms
of echo and interruption?
a way of breathing.

breathing to sustain
walking and looking,
through the world,
in it.
Denise Levertov