Waning Summer

Yes, I am always glad when the warmth (really I mean heat) of summer is on its way out.  Yet, I do feel a nostalgia coming over me this morning as I sit out early on the deck with bees buzzing, blue jays slurping at the birdbath, ravens squawking from high trees and the muffled loud swish sound of the river across the canyon.  The sun is just beginning to pour itself slowly, and then, with a blinding flash over the gently sloped mountain top.

The earth is still moving, turning, spinning at the speed of 1000 miles per hour.  Even when we finally allow ourselves to sit still we are not really still.


[on a planetary note:
early, in the pre-dawn sky, you can see bright Venus smiling down at you outside the cottage window and then later, in the dark night sky, expansive Jupiter shows up to give us a “star” to make a very big wish upon.]

Jupiter via pds.jpl.nasa.gov

Venus via crystalinks.com
Venus via crystalinks.com

Deep into summer, high into mountains…

Summer is a reflective time, a slowing down for me.  I work at chores early in the morning.  Then spend time with the outside world online for a while online.  Maybe some art-making or “putzing around” in the studio.  Of course, a nap, if needed. And swimming in the river in late afternoon, where the breeze is cool from brushing over the melted snow that is called River.

The mountains know a slightly different summer, with high elevation meadows and big trees grinning wide to the glorious big sky.

Cottage meadow summer-style
Cottage meadow summer-style
Big Trees summer-style
Big Trees summer-style

Closing in on Summer

We are few days away from the Summer Solstice when the sun is supposed to stand still.  I am getting into my summer mode, slowing down, watching the sky, and smelling the river as I walk in the mornings.

The birds seem to be extra busy around here for some reason.  It could be that they are just loving the birdbath water I keep fresh for them.  When I sit on the deck near the bird bath, they are landing on the clothes lines just a few feet from my head.  They are chirping and talking all the time.  I saw a hummingbird sit on a branch eight inches away from a phoebee who was flitting his tail.  They seemed to be talking away at each other.  I longed for a translator.

The cottage has been slow in booking this summer, so there are scattered openings through August.  It would be best for you to call or email with your dates and keep your fingers crossed that it is available for you. I have always said that the cottage stays open for the people who are supposed to have it.

That could be you! (PS, this Father’s Day weekend is still open….very unusual.)

Bridge to Nature

I have always known that Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast is a bridge to nature for its guests.  Bridging between city and country, between fast pace and slow pace, between asphalt and mountains, between high tech and low tech, even though the cottage has wireless internet, and between stress and relaxation…

Looking from the Dinely Bridge on my early morning walk today, the Kaweah River has dropped ten feet since last week but it is still rushing by.

upriver  upriver downriver downriver

We locals wait to swim in the river until late June, all through July and early August.  Swimming now would be placing your life in a precarious position.  When you come to Cort Cottage in mid-summer, I tell you about one of the best swimming holes in Sequoia National Park, one with granite pools and many waterfalls. I also say that swimming in the river washes your sins away.

Walking in the early morning…

quailfence I have two wonderful walks near home.  One is just down the road, at the road’s end, and goes up the hills and mountains on BLM land.  It is a famous place for mountain bikers, horse riding and walking with dogs and friends. But lately, I have been drawn to the river, which is down the road.  I drive down to the Veteran’s Memorial Building and walk across the highway to the Dinely Bridge, crossing high over the Kaweah River.  I turn left at Kaweah River Drive and walk for a mile or so and back.  This little “Drive” is a private road that hugs the river in places and goes higher, with river and mountain vistas in other places.  It has shade and wildflowers and creatures.  Can you see the little quail perched on the fence? It would not stay still long enough for me to get a close-up view.

I can direct you to both of these walks when you visit Cort Cottage.

Farewell to Spring

The last wildflowers of Spring are blooming in Three Rivers. I hate to see Spring leave.  But I know that I can just follow it up the hills as the weeks progress. It finally culminates in a great bloom up in the wild meadows of the Park in late June and early July.

And then there is swimming in the river in the late summer months.

Seasons…the way the earth tells time.

The cottage is some openings still left for the summer.  If there is a replay of last summer, when every night was booked, you might need to call soon to make your reservation.  The cottage is cool (in more ways that just air conditioning) and comfortable (in all ways you can think of) and it can become your home away from home.

P.S. Farewell to Spring is the name of a wildflower also called Clarkia or Herald to Summer.
(Yes, I know, I could have photo of it here for you…..I will go out and take one later in the week.)

Spring is full-blown

Yes, it has been a while since I reported from the Edge.  Spring is extra beautiful this year.  I know I say this every year, but it always amazes me how it shows up so glorious each time!

Simply said, April at the Cottage still has several openings before the busy season starts in May.  It is your last chance to see the green and watch the wildflowers graciously become seed pods for the next time around.


the glories of February

Rains that come and go, leaving golden light upon the hills. A few days ago it was “snowing” here with huge flakes filling the air but none were exactly sticking to the ground outside my window.  They just dusted the hills like a baker sifting confectioners sugar over cupcakes.  It was white, white across the canyon.  Two hours later the sun powerfully blasted out from all the clouds and the hills burst into brilliant green.  I took a nap.


This is the time to come to the cottage to see all this sky-air-earth drama.  I think some of my prospective guests have been scared away by weather.  Winter only lasts a few hours a day here, so don’t let it keep you away.

When did you fall in love with nature?

When did you first fall in love with nature?  This question landed on me, as a surprising imperative (posed by keynote speaker, John Muir Laws), in a crowded banquet room in Sacramento, where 800 “plant people” had gathered for the 2009 Conservation Conference of the California Native Plant Society.  This happened two weeks ago…..

In that crowded room I could not pin point the exact moment I fell in love with nature.

It was coming home, driving into Three Rivers, diving into the Kaweah River canyon view of the snow-capped high mountains, as I circumvented the man-made Lake Kaweah, that the memory emerged of how this love in me had shown up.

It happened over 30 years ago, coming into my consciousness gradually each day and in spurts of wildflowers assaulting my vision. There is a ritual that lies somewhere in the indigenous people’s oppressed legacy called “Pelted by Beauty”  where you are beaten with flowers and plants held in another’s hand.  I don’t remember where I first heard about this either…*

I came to live here for good in 1977, but first I came here as a child in the 1950’s to visit my cousins, when there was no lake, only a small two lane country road following the gently curving river’s edge.  I did not know that I loved nature then, or even needed to love it.  It was not something to think about. Running and playing in meadows were just a part of the moment, with no need to know the names of the profusely blooming wildflowers.  Those meadows have since become a necklace of houses conjoined in a subdivision now called Cherokee Oaks (even though no Cherokee lived here.)

In 1977, I found myself renting a downstairs apartment in a house on a road at the farther edge of Cherokee Oaks.  I had a vista of my favorite mountain in Three Rivers (called Blossom Peak, not after the native plants cloaking its steep mountainside, but after a pioneer family who named their daughters for flowers, Pansy Blossom and Rose Blossom, et. al.)  There was a huge meadow draped before me where I would gather miner’s lettuce in the early spring to make the sweetest salads.

Along with many people when they first come to live here from cities and towns, I did not know that miner’s lettuce was miner’s lettuce or that it was good to eat. The meadow is now a house-lined street called Meadow Drive where I wonder if there have recently been any miner’s-lettuce-sitings.

I learned about the “wild plants” from two remarkable people, Gene and Marion Gray, who came to Three Rivers in 1941 from Iowa.  Gene was a nature photographer, teaching me what to do with my first SRL lenses Miranda camera (his macro lens was putting his eye glasses, using one of its magnifying lenses, in front of the camera lens.)  They both taught me the names of the wildflowers. Overwhelmed by so many wildflowers coming up everywhere, I went slowly with 4-5 flower names each year.

It was Marion who taught me the thrilling game of being the first one to spot the first blossom of each wildflower as Spring spread herself over the foothills each year.  She taught me to recognize the green leaves of each one even before buds appeared. She taught me about how to love the natural gardens already surrounding where I lived.  She taught me to weed-eat late in the season only after all the wildflowers had gone to seed.  In fact, she used to hand weed the grasses from the flowers over large expanses of her property.  She taught me how to recognize the seed pods hanging on the dried skeleton stems of her beloved friends.

I remember standing with her on a granite out-cropping way above her house, where she gathered wild onions that grew in the cracks and crevices of the granite when the natural creek water flowed over the rock during the Spring rains.  That day in the early 1980’s she said, “Just look at all the houses over there, soon there will be nothing left.”  I looked across at the broad expanse of the Kaweah River canyon up to Sequoia Park and below Comb Rock, saying to her, “What houses?”  It looked pretty green with vegetation to me.  She started to count, “That one, that one…..”, counting maybe 10 or so houses.  Years later, when I was actually living in Gene and Marion’s house, renting it after Gene had died and Marion had moved to Walnut Creek to be near her son, I counted over three times the houses that I had first seen with Marion.  This last count was 20 years ago for me, and there is now a house built on the spot where Marion and I first stood.

* (oh yes, now this comes to me….)

Pelted by Beauty was mentioned in The REinvention of Work by Matthew Fox.  On page 291, he tells about a flower ritual that was done for (Mary Caroline) M. C. Richards on the 25th anniversary of the publication of her book Centering: In Poetry, Pottery and the Person.  The gathering was hosted by Fox’s Friends of Creation Spirituality, and led by Sister Jose Hobday, a Catholic Native American nun and spiritual teacher, of the Papago people of Arizona.

Richards wrote a poem about it, published in her poetry collection called Imagine Inventing Yellow.
The last few lines of the poem are:

Pelted by beauty and peace,

a cellular reordering, each tiny vessel

lovecrazed, opening.

The fountain erupts, cascades,

we wish to die in it, be other,

be one in an alchemy of eros,

that lad with the arrows who shoots behind.

Weeding Retreat

Do you know how to weed? or not?

Cort Cottage Bed and Breakfast offers a special “weeding retreat”: in exchange for 1 hour per day of weeding therapy (immense value in having your hands in earth itself) you will be given special rate of $145 a night for 2 people. Good for Winter and Spring months only. Please sign up when you make reservation.  No previous weeding experience is needed.

Weeding has been known to calm the mind, connect root chakra directly to earth, and genuinely cheer up the garden and the cottage path.  Some poppy plant, lavender, and other assorted welcomed plants can be transplanted by those with adventurous hearts.

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