Friday, November 2, 2007


Two years ago, I lived in a small farm town near Santa Barbara. People there were highly attuned to the patterns of weather, which were always dramatic. One day in spring I was walking downtown and I looked in the sky and saw the clouds blowing from east to west. It was easy to tell east and west, as the valley ran that way. I wasn't the only person noticing. People were stopped on the sidewalk and staring. The reason is that the clouds only blow west to east. The ocean is west, the wind always blows from there. Always. I mean: every day for the last four thousand years. You could have heard a pin drop.

Beginning that moment I got a knot in my stomach that has never gone away. We had no rain, then 11 inches one night. There was a four-day-long frost that killed everything. A 400-year-old oak tree toppled over. Most of the other oaks grew a mysterious fungus that killed them. At the market, all the farmers said they no longer knew what to plant -- nothing made sense. I could feel the weather fighting with itself, blasts of hot air coming in where there should have only been cold.

I still feel this every single day. I write here about fractals and keyboards and accumulation and I am also battling with a fairly dark question. I can only not ask the question for a few hours at a time; I can't actually lay it to rest.

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