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  • You search for deepest Nature, even here.
    Maybe especially here.
    To be startled into clarity by unexpected juxtapositions.

    It’s the same thing when you come upon a woman hiking in high heels miles from any sidewalk or a man reading Ulysses by a mountain stream.
    The lovely absurdity of it.

    And so in New York you listen for coyote song above siren and horn, you hunt for hawks perched in parks: subtle weavings of the wild within the strange roar of the human hive.

    Here in San Francisco, because the full whisper of the non-human world beckons so insistently from just there, over the bridge or down the road, you shed city hills for nearby coast, redwoods and cliffs.

    Sure enough, a woman teeters along the trail, her high-fashion sense nonsense. A runner chugs by to the rhythm of human-made music. But it’s too obvious. Expected.

    You turn away, to the sun shafts that touch the treetops, the wind that pours over the open ocean. You try to enter those places, get all Mary Austin or John Muir.

    But then you have to laugh. At yourself. For it is the human that still comes to you--writers bringing back the secrets, or trying to--and now a poem shakes out from memory, Heaney’s “Postscript.”
    And he reminds you of your arrogance, pushes you beyond.

    No, you are not that brown pelican riding the air currents along the cliff line. You are not that tule elk standing on the near hill. You are not that seal basking on a mussel bedded rock.

    You can only do this: stand at the threshold. But it is on that absurd edge where your heart is indeed blown open.
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