Between the deep, offshore loading platform in the San Francisco Bay where the tall tankers load the oil we Americans love and hate, and a lagoon in the Miller-Knox Shoreline Park in Pt. Richmond, CA, there sits a bench. It takes nerve to approach this bench because the Canada Geese think this place belongs to them. I do too. But for most of a Spring day they will accommodate my presence, but not before they stretch their long necks and honk their opinions like a bunch of windy politicians up for re-election. They return to grooming and preening -- launching tufts of down skyward -- as they renegotiate their territory with me in it. I cover the dusty slats of the seat with a thick blanket, sit down and wait. My heart knows what they grow to sense, that I am completely harmless. They settle into doing what they do best: poking one another in the butt, take-off and landing practice and raising their fuzzy-headed goslings.
Two adult geese, with their family of six, web-foot their way to the waters' edge. They set sail effortlessly, paddling to the far shore and disappear into the tall grasses. Marching along the near shore lifting one yellow foot after another, feathery topnotch jiggling and jabbing at minnows is a Snowy White Egret. Petite golden moths float upon the scene, at ankle level bobbing through grasses and dry twigs, landing lightly and briefly. A ladybug, in her polka-dot suit, soldiers along following a corkscrew of a dried leaf, proceeds to a blade of spring grass and reminds me how the old decays to grow the new. A male pigeon with a fat iridescent throat pesters a smaller version of himself, I assume a female. She toddles along as he nips and picks at her, forcing her to pivot and hop--a form of avian foreplay turned pigeon polka. I breathe the air flavored by the ocean and listen to the chatty stories of the common brown sparrow. Young lovers enter my peripheral vision standing on a not too distant knoll wearing their desire the way young people often do. I turn a way as I am not up for their afternoon delight interrupting mine.
I open my laptop beneath the live oak canopy of filtered light and release the fear I have been carrying for days, that the words may stop coming. Until this moment I did not know that inspiration was a couple of exits down I-580 from my home--a mere mile if traveling by goose. This is the place that ignites my imagination, like no other. For once, I will trust my own way of making the words turn into sentences and the sentences into paragraphs and surrender the crazy critic to the muse who knows that it doesn't get any better than this.