My wife recently returned from a pre-school presentation thrown by a local “mommies group”. Here in LA, as in most other places in the USA, one is expected to begin panicking about school immediately after your kid parts ways from her placenta. I get it. Now that 1% percent of the population has successfully procured most of the booty, its kill or be killed at the waterhole. But man, even lion cubs spend a LOT of time messing around, chasing flies, scaring dogs; you know, kid stuff. When do our kids get to wander in the woods, turn over rocks, and chase frogs along creek banks and lie on their back, staring at clouds? Since when did we adopt the imperative to fast-track toddlers toward their degree? Don’t all kids need time to wander? Were it not for wanderers, who would have brought us the theory of natural selection? Darwin? No! Well, not entirely…
Seth Brundle: You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects… don’t have politics. They’re very… brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can’t trust the insect. I’d like to become the first… insect politician. Y’see, I’d like to, but… I’m afraid, uh…
When we bought our house , our yard was a sloppy rectangle of dead pomegranate trees, dried earth and a riddle of busted pipes. Sian was 6 months pregnant, so the priority was that which lay under the new roof, but my heart was focused on the yard. I was, my wife might say, obsessed. Well, I had a dream. I dreamed of creating a magical, urban jungle that my daughter could get lost in, critters would flock (or crawl) to, and friends would wander, drinks in hand, fully inspired. I dreamed of creating a habitat that would be boldly in-sync with the great Mediterranean Chaparral ecosystem that surrounds Los Angeles, and be a model for bridging man and nature in the 21st Century. Ten months later, I’m not even close. Nature, it turns out, has no regard for my wants. Continue reading Welcome to The Jungle…Hard Lessons From a Small Garden→
In Nature, transformation is a given. Picture the caterpillar or the tadpole, and the butterfly and frog come quickly to mind. People too, need to transform to grow, but some do this less elegantly than other. Take me, for example:
Months before we could feel our daughter doing parkour inside Sian’s belly, we had talks about what hip, badass parents we’d be. We swore we’d stay fun. We’d be the sort of parents who strapped on the kid and went to dj parties at Barnsdall, played music and danced into the wee hours while the baby slept swaddled in a sea of friends’ coats piled on the bed. Then Aniko was born, and she, as it turned out, had come with her own trajectory.
Charles and Charles flew the nest today. Both Monarchs hatched this morning, between 7 am and 10 am. We let them take a few hours to fill out their wings before releasing them. Needless to say, a pretty cool thing to watch them fly off. Aniko, in true Aniko form, expressed her delight by nearly pinching them to death, but Sian successfully intervened, and no butterflies were handicapped in the making of this post.
So, that’s a total of three Monarch’s returned to the migration. We hope. It’s a tough journey for those critters under the best of circumstances, and these days, circumstances aren’t their best. Don’t forget, next year, plant milkweed and raise Monarch’s. Keep the flowers flowering and the fruit fruity.
In the months leading up to the birth of our daughter, Sian and I attended a birth class. One night, the instructor, Kathy, told the class to write down their list of essential “Must Do’s” prior to the birth of their child. It was important, she stressed, that we were clear about what we needed accomplished BEFORE the birth. Without skipping a beat, I jotted down my top priority. One by one, we went around the room, reading our lists. Everyone had pretty similar “Must Do’s”: “install car-seat”, “purchase breast pump” or “build nursery”. I looked down at my paper. The only thing I’d written was, “Plant the Butterfly Garden”. Embarrassed, I tried to bury my paper in my pocket. But before I could, Sian raised her hand and, with mock innocence, asked, “So, Kathy, would planting a butterfly garden be something you’d categorize as ‘essential’?” Everyone laughed.
Look, all my life I’ve geeked out over animals. And one thing I always assumed I’d do is get to see the Monarch butterfly’s legendary migration. But then I began reading stories about the steep decline of the Monarch and a profound feeling took over took me: This can’t happen. I want to go see this with my kid someday. But what can I do? I’m not a powerful person. I don’t have much money, and I don’t have political office. My sphere of influence, as a great teacher once called it, is not that impressive. And so, I got this butterfly garden in my head. Continue reading The Charles’s Project→
At the age of 42, I was a single guy who’d lived in the same apartment for two decades, riding around in a 1984 Land Cruiser wagon with his 6o pound mutt, Burt. I had no ambition to own a house, no intention of having kids, and lived only to make enough money to load up my truck, go hiking in the mountains, surfing in the ocean, ride my mountain bike and take pictures. And serial date women. I was an LA based, Peter Pan who tolerated protracted and ridiculous battles with his land-lady in order to enjoy doing whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I eschewed commitment like a dog avoids a cattle grate. Then I met my soon-to-be wife, Sian. The gig was up three hours into our first date. Continue reading Enter, Aniko…→