The sun rises in the morning above the northern wall of the alley. The window above my shikibuton looks out onto Oregon Grape plants that now have flowers. Bees and other insects come to the flowers for the nectar. The flowers are bright yellow, the same color as the core of the plant under the bark. The plant contains berberine, which makes it incredibly bitter. The flowers become fat, deep purple berries that are both sweet and bitter.

The plant itself can be used to treat psoriasis. Berberine is strongly anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. The root, dried and powdered, can be used directly on wounds to prevent infection, or taken orally for food poisoning. A tea of the roots/bark works as well.

The bitterness itself is good for digestion. Bitter flavor increases saliva production and other gastric juices, and even the production of hormones that stimulate the gall bladder (where bile is stored) and the pancreas.

The color of the flowers of the spiky Oregon Grape is really the same color as the sunlight. The bitter, spiky nature of the plant is interesting to encounter. Bitterness is restorative, though unpleasant in the process. Just like certain things in life. The deep green glossy leaves shelter small birds.

Today the color of the sunlight is white. The sky is blue. I listened to Margaret Atwood speak yesterday about keeping squirrels from living in her roof by putting hot pepper into where they lived. Then she said: that if you have a place to stay, and you know how to get food, you really have all you need. You’re OK. She said many people who are younger (she is 80) worry that life has changed and that they won’t be able to do the things they had planned anymore. But as an old person, her perspective is different. She has lived through many calamities, and now has less life to look forward to than life she lived. So her perspective is different. Yet it’s like an old tree vs a young one. It’s safe to say that, despite the wisdom of her perspective, the two perspectives, of looking forward, and looking backward, are hard to reconcile.

I also heard someone say recently that there is no running away from your demons anymore. Indeed, there is little to distract from things. I often talk about the root of the bone, which is a funny phrase. I hope for everyone that they get closer to the root of the bone. It’s spring and everyone should be together and doing things. Yet we are not. So it’s root of the bone time.

I hear bears are wandering freely in Yosemite because there aren’t millions of people there anymore. I wonder what flowers are blooming there. I wonder if there will be more flowers in such places than we’ve seen in years?

— Hudson