Spring Fever

March winds nearly blew me off Bernal hill last night–flapping my scarf in my eyes and doing a very bad number on my hair. But this beautiful butterfly kite couldn’t find a decent breeze. Despite the efforts of 2 parents and 4 kids, the butterfly bombed.kiteflyer_3

His owner was left with nothing to do but hold him as Mom and Dad turned their attention to a much less attractive Angry Birds kite.kite


March is also wildflower month in Northern California, so Maria and I took our annual hike on the Ring Mountain.

We hoped to spot the rare Tiburon Mariposa Lily, found only on Ring Mountain.


photo by Tom Hilton


Instead, when we first arrived we were greeted by numerous Oakland Mariposa Lilies. They are prettier in some ways–pinker and not so hairy- and also considered rare. tiburonlily


Ring Mountain’s other joys are wide open views of the Tiburon Peninsula and San Francisco to the South.  From a picnic spot at the base of a jumbled rock pile, this was my view. Maria kindly posed to add scale and some St Patrick’s day green.



St Patrick’s Day, 2013

Italy in the news: Cristiani e Magici

With the new, Argentinian pope calling himself Francis, after my fair city, my attention was drawn to what is happening in Italy these days. I love thinking about Italy.

There is so much to love.

The language, the food, the buildings, and the people.

My most recent visit was in November 2011, to the northern city of Ferrara.FerraraRooftops

Ferrara, though not widely known in the US, is a cool, compact, walled city with a moated castle. In the Christmas season it was a magical place.

My son’s host family gave us a warm welcome, including homemade Hawthorne liqueur. Brunoliquor

I wonder if Rowan chose to learn Italian partly because of a trip we took there during the Vatican’s Jubilee year in 2000. We took a boat from Greece to the port of Brindisi on the outer heel.

We rented a car and drove across the sole of the boot, into the toe and then north along the Mediterranean sea. Along the way we visited both tourist sights and some more unusual spots.alberobello_2

Alberobello’s old houses, called Trulli, are all built with conical, dry stone roofs. No mortar was used so that the roofs could be torn down at a moment’s notice to avoid taxes.


All are topped with pinnacles that have meanings: Primitivo, Cristiani e Magici, just like Italy herself.


Remembering a War Spring

10 years ago yesterday I just had to get away from the radio news, breathlessly covering the “shock and awe” of Bush’s army entering Iraq.

There was only one thing to do. Draw a breath and draw a flower, or 10.


My hill was covered in spring wildflowers. warflowers

Studying the forms and colors helped take my mind off what I thought then, and know now, was a pointless, wasteful war–based on lies.pawprintflowers

Identifying the flowers, looking them up by color and shape and rolling their Latin names in my mouth was oddly calming. mapleleaves

Bad things were unfolding overseas, but the velvet nap of pink Maple leaves unfolding was very good.Lucyw:flowers

Lucy was still alive and lay near me, eyes and ears tuned for signs of danger.


Pinks and oranges starred the grasses.

That war is now supposed to be over. Other wars loom. March is here.


Time to go draw flowers again.