We have been on the road for ten days. Sacramento, San Francisco and Sonoma. First, the writing workshop in Sacramento where we met some fine writers, enjoyed the company of Alice and Jim Carney and the whole Carney family -- wonders all! -- and saw, on Halloween night a small white angel toddle up the walkway while her mother, a large woman with a booming voice chanted, "C'mon Mama, C'mon Mama" and the barely bobbling youngster teeters up the walk with hands scribbling in the air, grasping for candy. Of all the costumes and pranksters, this is the best. But, then, it's no costume, it's just magic.
Next morning, an email from my old and dear friend Fred Burstein, reading coach extraordinaire, poet, woodsman, carver, builder, man of big shoulders and wide interests, well, this fabulous Fred sends us a poem from one of his students, Jennifer, and it goes like this:
Over Halloween we were walking back
to Grandpa's, and a cat started following us.
We walked up to a different person.
We asked if this was her cat.
She said, No, but she does know that cat.
His name is Heath. The cat stayed out
on my grandpa's porch, and Grandma Lill
brang the cat inside, and fed it.
And now Grandpa is angry cause
he don't want to be responsible
for the cat, that's why.
The whistler is one of those gifts you sometimes encounter when you wake up at 3 AM. We were in San Francisco on Nob Hill in Jim and Alice's guest suite which was the kind of place Jack London might've written a story in, and I was lying in bed thinking that life is sometimes so magical you can't put it into words, and right then, this whistler comes along and I try to get it down --
A solitary whistler, part swallow, part sparrow
toodling between the tides of traffic
and suddenly the traffic quits, disappears
the whistler wanders on, whistling
a person with no name, no face, no listener
in the whole sleeping city but me.
And then, this morning, a daft raccoon staring into the sunlight with whiskers long as broom straws. Sitting there, staring out of dark eyes, winking in the sun, saying: "I have every right to be here, the people feed me and I waddle around and look at things and take my time as I please." The dog next door ignores the raccoon, and when we pass by again, a half hour later, the masked fellow is sitting in a flower pot, as if he's a furry flower planted there. So life goes -- magic!