HERON in the MEADOW, Signs of Spring


                                     HERON ON THE MEADOW ~~ Signs of Spring

Heron, 1     My neighbor and I spotted a marvelous tall slim bird in the meadow this morning, and it obliged my closeness  Heron, 2 with it’s

remarkable calm,  Heron, 3  coming I imagine with the knowledge it can fly off when choosing to despite my enthusiastic admiration, and prior even to that greet me with a stern and serious eye to eye challenge to its territory. Heron, 7 I don’t know what it sought here, or if it found the treat of frog or snake, the meal, the sustenance.  Or if, soaring over one Sunday afternoon, returned simply because it wondered what this lovely patch of flat ground next to the river held.   (And PS if you know birds and this is not a Heron please do tell.)

Lavender, 2

French Lavender, as well as the fruit trees in the neighborhood are in bloom.  And daffodils. 

The Carmel River, which by the way has gone from zero to 3 pairs of Mallard ducks in less than a week, and become a roaring fine waterway, wide, clear and deep again.

Last week four bold Kayakers showed for a day’s frivolity, and yesterday a fellow and his Labrador stopped off, and trotted out to center bridge to see what the steelhead situation was.

It’s spring.

White Dogs of Big Sur Clyde


DSCF2930There was interesting man named Clyde who lived in the whereabouts of Big Sur, I have no idea exactly where, or if it was full-time van and campfire life.  I’m not even 100% sure of his name, I think I got it right.

Clyde bred and raised dogs.  They were all white, blue-eyed, and some exquisite combination of wolf or coyote and Shepherd and/or Husky. Clyde was very precise about the combination, he knew whose mate was who and when and where and how old. 

DSCF2931I’ll say this about the fellow’s very mixed reputation (which ranged from fearsome to deranged to saintly), he raised the most marvelous dogs you would ever want to know in your life.  Angelic, healthy, beautiful, dispositions of poets, and providing companions for a lot of locals who were lucky enough to end up with one of Clyde’s dogs.  There are a lot of all white wolf-like dogs in the Santa Lucia hills there now.DSCF2929

DSCF2926He never seemed quite firmly robust, and sometimes the dogs looked underfed.  When we met he was in what are stupidly noted as the golden sunset years of a life, which I suppose I now qualify for myself and I can tell you for a fact it’s hard work and not often golden or sunny. That takes more work than it used to.  I took these photographs around 2010. Aren’t they beautiful creatures?  Wish I’d noted their names. 

I heard that Clyde died two years or so ago.  I never did have a long conversation with him, not once;  he’d spend time with locals  he knew  DSCF2928near my The Hawks Perch Gallery off Highway 1, at the pub next door.

I took these photographs with his permission.  That’s Clyde’s hand assuring these handsome animals I could be trusted to get near his vehicle. 

May they all be blessed in their lives after the loss of the ruffian who did such a nice job loving them.  You can see in their eyes how they loved him back.  Not a bad legacy, old boy. Au revoir, Clyde.





My darling standard old buddy computer crashed.  I got about everything back (WHEW!) all my photos, boy was that scary.  But not my email.  I’ve been working on it about a week and not making any progress.  I have a new email for contacting me though (hope springing eternal) eventually the old one may come back to life.



Please use this for now.

And anyone trying to reach me since last week, please give it another shot with this one.

NEW PAINTING~Carmel Valley Bistro Backyard


Oil on Canvas (Large, maybe  28 X 48 )

Carmel Valley Bistro BackyardI’m not entirely sure this is done, I’ve been working on it awhile, then the temperature dropped (outdoor studio) and I’ve thought of a few more things to add….IFit warms up this week.  Meanwhile, wanted to show it to you all, it’s been a great painting experience. 

The Bistro no longer exists, it’s now the wine-tasting rooms of one of the many vineyards out here.  I worked there in 1997, my first waitress job in California, exhausting two and three shifts a day because everyone always quit within hours.  Run by maniacs. I was, despite the horrors, really glad to have a job and some place out of the rain.

My Luminous Window on the World

Day after rain, Shauna Orchid

My Luminous Window on the World

Far far away on the other side of our country….(though for years there were many things to love in my Brooklyn)….the rampant effusion of flowers to fill the eye and heart was satisfied only by long, hazard-filled, grimey subway trips to mossy walled, early NY Romanesque style architecture: protected hot houses, orangeries, botanical gardens. Or there were museums or picture books…or painting my own.

Lily Bouquet at WindowTropical flowers were non-existant in shops, or scarce, or a king’s ransom. A standard 5 stem bouquet of yellow daisies, a single sunflower or Easter lily were barely within the budget. Then a miracle discovery of the Flower Market, in the West 20’s I think, wood boxes & metal stands filling block after block. And the dizzying morning glory of walking through those heavenly cropped fields, the intoxicating aromas, the brilliant colors. By noon, thousands of shoppers and walkers and every other marker but perhaps a single lavender petal, a curled and spotted white lily bloom left abandoned on the hosed down cement sidewalks, had vanished from the stage of that theatrical city, a life emptied. But the Flower Market was still a long haul from home and required a pre=dawn start up, and was really (despite the possible mind-blowing feast) a costly journey after all. I knew it was there. Having seen and walked it I could still picture it from afar.Table Tops, Bouquet and Orchids

Then I moved.

These photographs are from the current, seventh garden I’ve made to live inside of since coming west. I’m getting better all the time and this one’s a doozie.

Orchid and Books, Window    Last week Safeway tossed their over-ripe bouquets into an accessable dumpster; my garden is having a fresh bloom of Spanish lavender; the huge Bird of Paradise has ten new budding stalks ~~which I’ve learned will thrive and open when cut; my African Violet is a constant purple thrill; and a spectacular old perfumed orchid which has been in my outside studio for a month (til the overnights dropped to the 30’s) and last night I brought it inside. It has been ufurling brand new blossoms, up to four open, three buds to go and perfumes the whole bungalow.River Nile Begonia, Shauna Orchid, Window

They crowd my tables by my window. I am thrilled to sit within inches of all this. The compulsion to share this seizes me every minute of the day and night. I want to give you a look and I encourage you to do the same which is to fill your own landscape to more, more more. (PS, in the background on the right here, the ruffled green leaf with the red edging is The River Nile Begonia, and really incredible.)

As Sir Mick Jagger said, “Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.”
Let the good times roll.

Light through Shauna OrchidBird of Paradise Window

For Fall


I slept tucked in this place beneath the golden eagle’s nest high above Garrapata’s cliffs, seeing them sail out, brilliant yellow, and drop behind a gray sunrise mist on currents invisible to me, descending straight to the ocean’s foam green surf.                     That was fifteen years ago.                                                            Yesterday I saw them again.      Sparhawk~ October 2015


THE FINEST STORY IN THE WORLD, and the Contstant Delight of Rudyard Kipling


and The Contstant Delight of Rudyard Kipling

I waltz in and tango out of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, always intrigued, unfailingly pleased. I’m just doing the dance this week on his pages of short stories: “The Kipling Sampler”, copyrighted 1892-1910 by RK himself, then “By arrangement with Mrs. George Bambridge of Doubleday and Co, Inc.” (I’m not making that up), through 1957 which is the year of the volume in my hand;  pages totalling 223, which are fragile and yellowed in this friendly slim volume that I have carried through very nearly my entire life beginning with teen me of the meritorious ’60’s. The decade was you know, in retrospect (amazingly) (improbably) something to brag about. Even inciting nostalgia. And if for nothing more than this said of my generation: We were readers. And by God but we had writers to read.
The Kipling Sampler contains 8 short stories including the thrilling “Mowgli’s Brothers”, “The Tomb of His Ancestors”, other favorites; 18 Poems including “Gunga Din”, “Mandalay”, and “If~”; “On Travel: An Englishman in Yellowstone Park”, telling of his 4th of July visit to Livingstone; and an extract of his novel, “Kim”.

I am today drawn in by one I have never read. I have not, all my life, stuck with collected Kipling from start to finish. He engages me variously through the years, and I don’t think he’d mind my saying so, not a bit. But I’ve always loved having him within reach of my extended paw.kiplingPortrait of Rudyard Kipling by B Sparhawk, Oil on Linen

That tale is called: “The Finest Story In The World”. Pretty compelling stuff for a writer to trip over just by the title alone. But the opening salvo was so good, so rich, I want to share it with you.

It’s part of Kipling’s magic that with a mere handful of sentences (so linked you have to return to see if you just read one or several) he gets you lasooed in and doesn’t let go until the final punctuation. I’m going to give you Mr Kipling’s first paragraph. See if you don’t agree.

“His name was Charlie Mears; he was the only son of his mother, who was a widow, and he lived in the north of London, coming into the City every day to work in a bank. He was twenty years old and was full of aspirations. I met him in a public billiard-saloon where the marker called him by his first name, and he called the marker “Bullseye.” Charlie explained, a little nervously, that he had only come to the place to look on, and since looking on at games of skill is not a cheap ausement for the young, I suggested that Charlie should go back to his mother.”

Are you hooked? Well, pages 54 to 79 of my ancient volume carries Kipling’s tale in full. Just 25 pages of something that carries you off to untold imaginings of your own at the heated end of the author’s prodding nib.

It’s a brilliant light touch with the stranglehold of a python yet all he does is  tell a story. It’s a real craft, not easy to duplicate, a joy to fall into.

Now here is the oddest thing imaginable, and part of the reason I want to tell you about this. Kipling details more of this young Charlie Mears he befriends, and the odd arrangement they come to (Charlie’s coveting a writer’s life that Kipling, older and wiser, the never identified first person is experiencing) wherein Charlie supplies Kipling with an unbelievable story he is unable to write, and Kipling pays him 5 pounds for the idea because he believes he can, himself, write it.

Charlie lets his story out in a gush (of ships and galley slaves and swashbuckling hero pirates) then piecemeal in appointed visits, and their talk is of writing and the thrill of words, and the overwhelming mystery of how the juvenile, untraveled, unread Charlie could possibly imagine any of it. The story goes on to reveal that Charlie is channeling (Kipling calls it metempsychosis) an ancient Greek galley-slave and the content comes to him in dreams and he is accurate to the point of his writing out what the galley slaves scratched in ancient Greek with their iron bound wrists on their oars!  Which Kipling trudges off to verify with an annoyed antiquarian linguist at the museum across town.  How stupendous is that!

Kipling’s character continues to pry the tale from young Charlie who is kept oblivious to the obvious that he is speaking somehow from his OWN history as a captive Greek slave on a pirate’s ship. Then Charlie, gaining confidence,  begins to spin out other past seafarer lives “half a dozen several and separate existences spent on the blue water in the morning of the world”, in fact the man’s a rare treasure trove, now appearing to possibly be an Argonaut in a previous life!!  What a find for the writer befriending him. Wow.

But this here-and-now-Charlie is as naive and petulant as a child whom Kipling must nurse along.  He dares not tell him what he suspects… because he begins to envision his own writing career into unimagined, glorious sugar plums….once the story is writ.

But here’s a wondrous strange part for me, and it fits in the peculiar category of never knowing at all where reading someone else’s words might lead all of us.

Kipling’s paying cash for the story idea allows Charlie the money to purchase unread books; he is giddy; he falls in love with Longfellow and quotes a poem’s stanza about the sea: “I remember the black wharves and the ships And the sea-tides tossing free; And Spanish sailors with bearded lips, And the beauty and mystery of the ships, And the magic of the sea.”

Now by sheer coincidence it is from one of my favorite Longfellow poems, and the very bit I memorized long ago, and in fact (I’m not making this up!) included it in my own short story, coming from the mouth of my Grandfather Alfred in the one called: “Grandpa’s Ticket to Ride” (“The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories”, BD Sparhawk, 2004.)
And the pirate hero of the Charlie/Kipling story is a red-head, same as my sailor Grandfather!  It’s all true. What can it mean?

And on reflection, because I’m a writer and see the construction of things and the plot and twists and turns,  I’m also thinking: Why Rudyard you sly fox you. 

Can it be that you had some story in your head with the cast of characters, and some composition of the plot and fancies of where it might go but couldn’t make it go there…..and look what you did! You went and invented Charlie, and never did more than the outline of that story but still you turned it into a tale worth keeping and telling, and named it “The Finest Story in the World”.

Which is likely the emotion you woke from sleep feeling it must be, aha.

But trying to get it onto paper never worked right. Now this discovery of mine of you adds so much wonder and happiness to my knowing the man, and increased admiration.  What a damn clever fellow.  Oh I wish I’d known him. We could sit at a country campfire for endless talk, or opposite at a railway’s gas-lit dining car table with cream-colored linen and weighted silver over a fair meal and stiff drinks of an evening; or catch sunrise on a midnight’s hike, rounding a trail’s bend into a wide open space that led downhill to the longed for destination and we hadn’t stopped talking for hours.  Maybe days. 

I can (and have) exhausted even the best of friends with my enthused descriptions and tales.  But I have the feeling Rudyard and I would never run out of steam and only rest long enough to eat or drink or have a few winks then pick up where we left off.  How I wish I’d known you in the flesh.  And, I think it’s fair, that despite your generous gifting of so much pleasure to the world, to discover from “The Finest Story in the World” that you turn out to be a thrifty man who would never let even a convoluted delight go unexplored.

For the full of Kipling’s short and marvelous tale, go here:  “The Finest Story in the World”