by Kathleen Boyle
Dictionary of the Atmosphere
Cumulus: Continued upward growth suggests showers later in the day.
Evaporation: Liquid to vapor. Lift up, fall down, lift up. Again.
Fear: There is the place where I saw the Mountain Lion. It was a spring day full of iris. My father never believed me. He insisted it was a bobcat.
Fern: Rubbing a sword fern frond spore-side-down on a stinging nettle sting removes the stinging.
Fog: On the boat we were socked in. Then it cleared slightly. Then we scattered the flowers. Then we scattered the ashes. Then we threw the chocolate. Then there were dolphins.
Fungus: Known to create their own small weather patterns. For example: a lightning strike to an oyster mushroomed stump.
Lenticular: Lens shaped. Once my brother knocked my father’s glasses into a lake. Not Bass Lake.
Lightening: The day dry lightning struck. Or was it a campfire? An arsonist? No matter, they say. Sooner or later it will all grow back. It will come in stages, they say.
Lighthouse: Past the ranches. From here we sometimes see the weather arriving. Sometimes we are distracted by the whales. Other times the cormorants. The families, in general.
Lighthouse: Each emits a unique pattern of light.
Lighthouse: My father’s ashes.
Prediction: Would that we could see the forecast of our moods. Thursday: chance of tears increasing toward evening. An entire week of patchy fog. Monday: Small tantrum advisory. My doppler station. My weather balloon. Would that we could see the forecast of events.
Smell of California Laurel: Returning after a long absence, a hike at Bear Valley. Summer. This is the thing I notice most. That. And the ferns.
Spores: The underside of all these fronds.
Spores: My brother taught us: to identify a tricky mushroom, place it underneath a glass jar place on a piece of white paper. Study the spore pattern. Compare.
Stratocumulus: Lumpy, layered clouds often following a cold front. Rain or drizzle. With bubble-like protrusions on the underside. Covering the entire sky without break. Arranged in parallel waves.
Stratus: Dark ragged under base of precipitation clouds.
Terra Cotta: Our color after we burn.
Tides: The rise and fall of water against earth. Some factors are: gravity, rotation, the shape of the near-shore bottom.
Water: Once in a kayak. Tomales Bay full of jellyfish. I mean full. I mean thick. There was no way to avoid whacking them with each paddlestroke. The rain drizzled off and on. The rain pierced the bay. Did they feel it?
Water: When it rains the phone stops working.
Waterfall: I know water that falls to the sea.
Where Weather Comes From: We all have our theories. It is the heat of the land. It is the heat of the rising water. It is a cold stream down from Alaska. It is the Pineapple Express. It is carried to us by the whales, the geese, the dolphins, the jellyfish.
Where Weather Goes: This is the thing I do not know.
Still Life with Buddha
Prayer wheels at the entrance mark this town like any other.
Touch them, hand across metal as you enter to om mani padme
hum. Climb up the stone path to the famous Gompa, the Buddhist
temple. The man with the key appears thin and whiteshirted to
open the thick door with a rusted key. So many years and miles.
Black then lights on and you are swirling inside orange, fuchsia,
turquoise, the hand-copied books, the hand-carved statutes, the
monk’s chants still hanging, still floating. This was once the salt
trading route. Still every direction color, every direction
sacred. And in the center the huge stone Buddha seated, one hand
raised in greeting or in warding off. He too alive and nothing still.