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A view and a poem from Black Star Canyon

September 2, 2011

On the evening of the August 2011 full moon (the 13th), I had the good fortune to wander with a group of creative folks along the gravel road below the cliffs of Red Rocks (now OC Parks/Irvine Ranch Conservancy land). Near the trailhead, Santiago Creek looked dry dry dry–typical for summer.

A shining surprise greeted us as we hiked downstream–water surfaced; the creek appeared. What fun to sit and laugh and write the fading light away . . . then to be awed by the full moon clearing the Santa Ana Mountains on the way back to our cars. (Note: there was an outdoor concert going on that evening over the ridge at Irvine Lake . . . every so often we were reminded of it by a faint bass beat or the much louder buzz of plane-pulling-an-ad annoyance . . . this became part of the experience and part of our writing, as did the encounter mentioned in Part II.)

One of the “prompts” we responded to was (a favorite of mine, I bust this one out a lot) everyone begin with the words: “I wonder . . .”

Near the mouth of Black Star Canyon

along Santiago Creek, 8.13.11


I wonder what the water is saying, singing, asking me…is it inviting me to my song, or is it asking me to just listen to its tune? I wonder if it wonders why I am here…to enjoy its splash, to answer its momentary tone – each note only here for a moment – each sound only once spoken. I wonder what it is to wonder out-loud like the stream singing my name.


I wonder what motivated those creepy men to say what they did to Paula and Lola – are they trying to keep people out of this beautiful place? I wonder how this creek sounds in the spring? Tonight it sounds happy, harmless, talkative. Probably much different in the spring. I wonder if the concert-goers are noticing their surroundings? Or just having fun at an outdoor concert? I wonder, as we sit here quietly, if we will hear more birds—either less shy or less afraid or less alert? Will we see more wildlife? I wonder how many homes and people are tucked away in these hills and canyons and if they hate seeing us here?


(Muggy and still. When I closed my eyes, I heard a sound beyond the babbling brook, like bicycle wheels turning.  Ray Charles said he could sense the color in sound.)

I wonder if I could live here.  What would I need to change in myself?  How would the world around me need to change?  When you become a hermit, do you become weird?  Or is it perceptions that change?  You of them?  Them of you?  Has that always been so?


I wonder how rain—dumped months ago in fierce winter micro bursts, dispersed in raging run-off, finally percolated through red layers of hidden tilted sandstone—how it knew to surface right here, right now, in a dappled stutter of water-blessing-rocks, so we could summer-sit in the twilight, soak it all in.

I. Paula Brown; II. Sherry Fuller; III. Ric Opalka; IV. Thea Gavin

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